The journey from Auckland to Paihia at the famous Bay of Islands in the Northland of New Zealand takes about four hours by bus, and is a destination in itself, as Highway 1 winds up the beautiful coast and drops into lovely valleys. But once there, Bay of Islands truly offers activities for everyone, no matter your personality type.
For the water lover
Kayak rentals, sailboat charters, and beautiful calm waters await you at Bay of Islands. You can explore as much or as little of the Bay and its hundreds of islands as you desire, by whatever method you choose. Rentals and tours run regardless of weather, so even in the frequent rains you’ll be able to get out on the water.
For the history buff
Bay of Islands is the spot where representatives of Queen Victoria signed a treaty with 300 Māori chiefs, making New Zealand part of the British Empire. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds tells that story, and also gives visitors a look into Māori culture. Visit the Marae (meeting place), admire handcrafted boats (one holds 120 rowers), and learn about the history of the Māori people in the newly opened museum.
For the extreme adventurer
Bay of Islands, as one of the adventure capitals of New Zealand, offers extreme activities for everyone. Skydiving over the Bay, helicoptering and more are available (and subject to weather). I might try this on my next trip.
For the beachgoer
The beaches of Bay of Islands are sheltered and sandy. The waters are calm thanks to the shape of the Bay and it’s many peninsulas and islands, with very small waves and tidal changes. Relax and take in some sun, or sit in the shade and admire the stunning water!
For the foodie
Good food options are plentiful in Bay of Islands. Everything is casual, as you’d expect in a beach setting. Also as expected, the seafood is the thing. CBK, right next to the main tourism office, serves one of the best fish and chips I’ve eaten!
For those who appreciate wildlife
In addition to dolphin and whale tours operating from Bay of Islands, you can also rent a car (yes, driving is on the left and as terrifying as it is, you’ll actually get used to it after about 20 minutes – or at least I did) and make your way to the Kawiti glow worm caves. A 30 minute tour will take you into the caves to see the thousands of glow worms lighting up the roof of the caves. It’s a unique experience that was truly magical!
Bay of Islands offers such diverse activities that anyone can easily find something amazing to do there. You will not regret including a few days there in your New Zealand itinerary!