Looking for things to do in the Bay of Islands? Here’s our “local knowledge” shortlist of the Bay of Islands activities worth spending your money on…
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Awesome Cape Reinga & Ninety Mile Beach Day Tour
Of all the Bay of Islands activities, this is by far the most popular tour with Hone Heke Lodge’s guests.
You haven’t really done Northland unless you’ve been to Cape Reinga (Te Rerenga Wairua). It’s the northernmost tip of New Zealand where two oceans collide – the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
This beautiful, wild and untouched region is deeply spiritual for Maori – the place where spirits leave on their journey to the underworld.
This is a full-day return tour from Kerikeri. On the way you’ll drive the full length of Ninety Mile Beach, see ancient kauri trees and sand board down giant sand dunes.
The first stop after leaving Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands is a short walk through the 37,000 acre Puketi Kauri Forest. The air is pure and the magnificent trees ancient… one of the few places on earth you can hug a 2,000 year-old king-of-the-forest native Kauri tree.
On the drive north you’ll be entertained by your driver guide who will recount stories of Northland’s history, from the arrival of Maori to New Zealand right up to the present day.
Next stop is the seaside town of Taipa in beautiful Doubtless Bay for morning tea, then on to Cape Reinga – the very top of New Zealand.
According to Maori legend, the Cape Reinga headland (Te Rerenga Wairua) is the departing place for spirits on their final journey to the homeland, Hawaiki. It’s a special and powerfully beautiful place, with the Tasman Sea on the left colliding with the Pacific Ocean on the right far below you.
At lunchtime you can check out the rolling surf at Taputaputa Bay, try a game of beach rugby, cricket or frisbee, or just relax and enjoy the scenery.
Next stop is the famous sandsurfing thrill at Te Paki Stream. After a quick lesson on the basics of sandsurfing, climb the dunes with your board and race back down again – a real adrenaline rush.
The return trip is down the sand and surf on legendary Ninety Mile Beach, which is a registered highway! You’ll stop to dig in the sand for pipi (fresh shell fish), and end the day at Mangonui tucking into New Zealand’s world-famous fish ‘n’ chips before arriving back in Kerikeri.
- Puketi Kauri Forest and Ancient Kauri Kingdom.
- Cape Reinga.
- Playing beach rugby, cricket and frisbee at Taputaputa Beach.
- Sandboarding on the massive dunes at Te Paki Stream.
- Digging for pipi on Ninety Mile Beach (conditions permitting).
- Real Kiwi fish ‘n’ chips at Mangonui (own cost).
- Photo opportunities galore.
> Talk to Victoria at Hone Heke Lodge to book this tour.
Dolphin Eco Experience
Would you love to view or even swim with wild dolphins in the warmest waters in New Zealand? You’ll be on board a purpose-built vessel with low viewing decks and seating for 35. The captain will get you as close as possible to these amazing and beautiful creatures. Of all the Bay of Islands activities, this is a highly memorable experience. Wetsuits, masks & snorkels are supplied.
> Talk to Victoria at Hone Heke Lodge to book this experience.
Dolphin Cruise to the Hole in the Rock
A half-day Bay of Islands cruise in search of dolphins and other marine life on board Dolphin Seeker, a purpose-built dolphin and whale watching catamaran. Takes you by many of the 144 islands out to to the famous Hole in the Rock on Motukokako Island, right at the end of Cape Brett Peninsula.
> Talk to Victoria at Hone Heke Lodge to book this cruise.
The Cream Trip
Follow the original cream trip route and see the best of the Bay of Islands. It’s been a must-do since 1927! Stops for lunch on an island, cruises out to the famous Hole in the Rock, and includes informative and interactive commentary. You even get the opportunity to swim with the dolphins or boom net alongside the vessel (additional fees apply). The Cream Trip is the perfect cruise for nature lovers, and the most extensive historical cruise in the Bay of Islands.
- Hole in the Rock, Marsden Cross and Black Rocks.
- Dolphin viewing and swimming.
- Urupukapuka Island stopover.
> Talk to Victoria at Hone Heke Lodge to book this trip.
Hokianga Day Tour including Tane Mahuta
Journey into a unique part of New Zealand, first discovered by the Maori voyager Kupe over 1,000 years ago when he paddled into the Hokianga harbour.
- Follow the original stagecoach trail to Hokianga along the old stagecoach route.
- Meet a national icon, the giant kauri tree Tane Mahuta in the Waipoua Forest, and hear the legend of how he separated earth and sky at the beginning of the world.
- Visit the 2.8 million year old Wairere Boulders.
- Learn about the history and culture of the region.
- Pub lunch at Opononi Hotel (own expense).
> Talk to Victoria at Hone Heke Lodge to book this tour.
Kerikeri Half Marathon
Fullers GreatSights Kerikeri Half Marathon is run in mid-November every year. It’s especially popular with those who are in peak fitness after completing Auckland Marathon two weeks earlier.
Kerikeri half marathon is a fast, scenic course with a gradual climb for the first 7km, then mainly downhill for the remaining 14km.
A highlight of the event, and one of the most fun Bay of Islands activities, is the street party that Kerikeri puts on in the afternoon after the Kerikeri half marathon has finished. It’s free, family friendly, and fun!
We specialise in accommodation for Kerikeri half marathon competitors. Click here to book your Kerikeri half marathon accommodation now!
Te Araroa Trail
If you are walking the Te Araroa trail, you’ll find Hone Heke Lodge is the closest backpacker accommodation to the Kerikeri section of the track.
A short 20-minute walk up to Hone Heke Lodge to our wonderfully comfortable beds! If it’s wet we have a drying room that can help dry out your walking gear. If it’s sunny, you can relax in our peaceful surroundings while you stop for a few days to stock up and unwind.
While you’re here, find out more from Hone Heke resident Bob who has walked the trail.
Rainbow Falls, also known in Maori as Waianiwaniwa – meaning Waters of the Rainbow, is situated on the Kerikeri river and is one of the most visited attractions in the district.
The waterfall is 27 metres high and, unlike most New Zealand waterfalls which are created by the erosion of soft rock, Rainbow Falls are sited on a hard basalt layer of rock. The waterfall was formed when water eroded mudstone alongside the basalt. That mudstone is now 27 metres lower!
You can drive to the falls or take the scenic riverside walking track from the Stone Store basin. Another option is the lovely 2½ to 3 hour round-trip walk from Hone Heke Lodge. The walk takes you down Hongi Hika Track with its native bush to the Kerikeri Basin (visit the Stone Store, Mission House and St James church while you’re there), then Rainbow Falls walking track alongside the river.
Kerikeri Stone Store
Kerikeri’s Stone Store is New Zealand’s oldest surviving stone building. It was built in 1832 as the base of the Church Missionary Society’s trading post, selling local produce to ships and European goods to Maori.
The Stone Store, together with the neighbouring Mission House, is now a small museum and forms one of the key Bay of Islands activities.