The Bay of Island is one of the New Zealand’s top holiday destinations where you can enjoy water activities, swim with dolphins, explore the islands around the bay and find the most beautiful beaches in the country.
The main towns in the Bay of island are Kerikeri, Paihia and Russel.
The Bay of Islands was the area where the first European settlers arrived, and where the famous Treaty of Waitangi was signed. The Treaty of Waitangi Grounds is only two minutes drive away from Paihia. On the Treaty Grounds, you can visit The Treaty House, Māori Meeting House and the world’s largest ceremonial canoe. You can also take part in guided tours, cultural performances (haka, stick games) or have Māori hāngi for dinner.
Paihia is small seaside town in Bay of Islands. It has many coffee shops, small boutiques, weekend markets and restaurants. From there you can easily take the ferry to Russel and swim with the dolphins, go fishing, take a walk to Haruru falls and hop on the cruise to the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’.
The romantic town of Russel is New Zealand’s first sea port and the first European settlement. The town still has its original layout and names from 1834 and many buildings can still be visited today. If you are planning to visit Russel for at least a whole day, I would recommend you to do a walk all the way to Flagstaff Hill. It is easy track through the bush and it has many nice views along the bay. It begins near the boat ramp on the Strand.
In Kerikeri, you can enjoy a walk surrounded by nature to the amazing Rainbow Falls, get local food from the Farmers Market, visit art and craft shops or have a look at the oldest building in New Zealand called The Stone Store. If you are interested in Māori history, make sure you visit Rewa’s village which recaptures the atmosphere of the average kainga (unfortified village) in pre-European times.
Fly: from Auckland to Kerikeri in an hour
Drive: from Auckland it takes three hours
Bus: Intercity or Nakedbus take around four hours