New Zealand’s Bay of Islands

A google search for New Zealand’s Bay of Islands brings up picturesque white sand beaches, stunning azure water, and black rock outcroppings covered in vibrant green trees.  It’s enough to make anyone want to visit immediately.  But it’s a well-kept secret: while local Kiwis and most visitors make it to the Bay of Islands, it’s relatively unknown on a global scale.

How to Get There

The Bay of Islands lies in the Northland region of New Zealand, a 35 minute flight or three-hour drive from Auckland.  The main towns are Whangaroa, Kerikeri, Paihia, Russell, and Opua. Intercity buses run regular routes to these, as well as many of the smaller outposts. Air New Zealand also has regularly scheduled flights into Kerikeri.  Another option is to fly into Whangerei and travel further north by car, bus, or boat.

What is the bay of islands?

The Bay of Islands encompasses 144 islands as well as the coastline of the Northland from Cape Brett to the Purerua peninsula.  Its winterless climate attracts thousands each year.  The Northland is known as the birthplace of New Zealand and has a wide range of Maori cultural attractions in addition to the recreational activities.  The Treaty of Waitangi, which established a British Governor in New Zealand, gave Maori the rights of British subjects, and recognised their ownership of the land (depending on which translation is read,) was signed here in the Northland.

New Zealand Bay photo
Photo by Boat bloke


what to do in the bay of islands

There are plenty of activities to enjoy in the Bay of Islands.  Visitors can swim with dolphins in Paihia, charter a yacht in Opua, shop in Russell, and go wine tasting in Kerikeri.  The Northland is also considered the best place to scuba dive in New Zealand.  A stunning reef and purposely-sunk shipwrecks are just some of the underwater attractions.  The tranquil waters are also sublimely clear.

Another top attraction in the area is the Haruru Falls.  They are close to Paihia, and are accessible by car, foot, or kayak.  An excellent walking trail connects the Waitangi Treaty grounds to the Falls, some of it along a boardwalk over mangroves.

Adventurous sorts can experience some of the best outdoor activities that the Islands have to offer, all from the wharf in Paihia.  Tandem parasailing and sea kayaking are just a few of the adventures available here.  Check in any town for operators and guides.

If diving among shipwrecks doesn’t get the adrenaline pumping, there’s also always diving out of a plane.  Skydives rank as one of the top attractions across New Zealand and travelers often have to choose skydiving over the mountains on the South Island, the golden beaches of Abel Tasman, Lake Taupo, or the Bay of Islands.  Travelers interested in a more leisurely activity can charter a yacht or hop onboard a cruise to Cape Brett to see the famed “hole in the rock.”

Since there is something for everyone in the Northland, visitors to New Zealand should plan to spend some time exploring the paradise that is the Bay of Islands.

Photo by engiles

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