Looking for things to do in Bay of Islands? As THE Bay of Islands backpackers we’ll give you the inside skinny on the best things to do in Bay of Islands.
Things to do in Bay of Islands
Only a 3-hour drive from Auckland, there is a remarkable diversity of things to do in Bay of Islands. It is the most historically significant area, has a warm sub-tropical climate, and offers a diverse range of aquatic adventures set in the most spectacular scenery.
This is where the first Europeans settled, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 and where the country’s first capital, Russell, was established.
David, Victoria, Ella & Joe enjoy a real Maori experience!
The Treaty is, like the Declaration of Independence, the founding document on which New Zealand’s bi-cultural society is based. It was not always peaceful, however, and in the early days of settlement, the Bay of Islands saw some of the worst fighting between Maori and Pakeha (the Maori word for Europeans) in the country.
Ella standing beside a waka (Maori war canoe).
Many people choose to live here because of the climate. Whereas Auckland can have 4 seasons in one day, the weather in Northland is more settled and several degrees warmer during the winter, hence its nickname, the winterless north. This makes it an ideal holiday destination no matter what the time of year.
Looking for aquatic things to do in Bay of Islands? With its nearly 150 islands and bays, the region has abundant marine life. This offers opportunities for big game fishing, diving, swimming and boat tours of various kinds. It is not uncommon for visitors to observe whales, dolphins, penguins, seals and other marine life in their natural habitat. All activities involving wildlife are based on sound ecological and environmental principles, in order to preserve their habitat and numbers.
The entire Northland area is chock full of unique scenic landscapes such as giant sand dunes, volcanic rock formations, stands of huge native trees, pristine clear water, bush-lined bays and safe, sandy beaches.
Click here for a full list of Bay of Islands activities.
One of the most popular things to do in Bay of Islands is swim with dolphins.
Paihia, Russell, Kerikeri
The 3 principal towns in the Bay of Islands are Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri. The list of things to do in Bay of Islands, courtesy of these 3 centres, is comprehensive.
Paihia is a thriving community of shops, bars, cafés and accommodation options. The largest fleet of charter fishing boats in the country is based here offering all types of fishing opportunities from light tackle to big game fishing. The area is one big maritime park and one of its biggest draw cards is the wreck of the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, a favourite diving destination.
Nearby is Waitangi, the tiny seaside settlement where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. It is home to the historic Treaty House, a fully carved Maori meeting house, a Maori war canoe and exhibitions all set in park-like grounds with wonderful views of the bay.
Across the harbour from Paihia lies Russell, the first capital of New Zealand. Russell is a peaceful and historic fishing town which is home to the country’s oldest church and licensed hotel. Russell is best accessed by vehicular ferry, which operates from Opua, just out of Paihia.
A 20-minute drive from Paihia is Kerikeri, which lies at the end of a tidal inlet. Nestled among the sweet-smelling citrus orchards and kiwifruit vines are the Stone Store (New Zealand’s oldest stone building) and Kemp House (New Zealand’s oldest wooden building).
Kerikeri is a picturesque spot full of interesting arts & craft shops, outdoor cafés, scenic walks and places of historic interest to visit.
Click here for a full list of things to do in Kerikeri.