If you are planning a visit to New Zealand then a trip to the Bay of Islands is a must! The Bay of Islands sit upon the shores of Paihia, a beach side town located around 3 hours north of Auckland. It is a great place for a road trip and the Kiwi Experience and Stray New Zealand hop on hop off buses also stop in the town of Paihia overnight. Base Backpackers is located just 50 metres from the beach and within the small town of Paihia. So here it is, the Top 10 Things to do in the Bay of Islands.
1. Explore the Islands!
144 islands make up the bay - each differing in character. The Bay of Islands can be compared to the Whitsunday Islands in Australia - but ALOT less touristy! There are a number island sailing tours and ferrys that you can take to the islands. Urupukapuka Island is a favourite of mine. Combine with a morning dolphin experience or a hole in the rock cruise. The island offers untouched beaches, nature walks and amazing views of the Bay of Islands.
2. Get a ferry to Russell - New Zealand's first ever Capital
Russell is a beautiful, beach side historic town that can be accessed by a short ferry ride. Long Beach is located on the far side of Russell and due to its location, is the only surf beach within a 2 hour drive from Paihia.
3. Visit New Zealand's birth place - Waitangi
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a thirty minute walk from Base Backpackers and is where New Zealand's founding document was signed: the Treaty of Waitangi. The grounds ooze a sense of cultural and historical significance and it is the very place in which the country of New Zealand was founded. In the ground you can explore a number of historical buildings and monuments including The Treaty House, The Carved Meeting House, a Ceremonial War Canoe and more!
4. Swim with Dolphins
The Bay of Islands is a popular spot for taking a Dolphin spotting tour. Dolphins like to visit the bay and Paihia serves as a great location to swim with the curious creatures! Tours depart twice daily.
5. See the 'Hole in the Rock'
The 'Hole in the Rock' is probably the most popular photographed location to resemble the Bay of Islands. Cruises depart from the mainland daily. Combine your cruise with dolphin watching.
6. Kauri Forests
Rainforests surround the town of Paihia and are home to the famous Kiwi Kauri Tree - these trees are gigantic and are known to be over 2,000 years old! There are many forests that are just a short drive from Base Backpackers: Puketi Forest & Omahuta Forest are just 20 minutes away.
7. Cape Reinga Day Tour
A journey to the very top of New Zealand - Cape Reinga is an absolute must when visiting the Bay of Islands. Venture to the very top of New Zealand, the bottom of the world and where two ocean collide! Day Tours drive you along 90 mile beach (a registered highway), offer fantastic views of the ocean leading to the middle of nowhere, the Cape Reinga lighthouse and Sand Boarding!
Parasailing is a great way to gain fantastic views of the bay - along with a thrilling experience!
The northland region of New Zealand is famous for its waterfalls. Rainbow Falls are just 20 minutes from Paihia - you can either drive and walk 5 minutes to the viewing platform, or take a 1.5 hour walk through the rainforest. Haruru Falls are also close by and are a great place for a dip in the lake - with a man made beach.
10. Scuba Dive
The coastline is home to a number of shipwrecks that provide unforgettable diving experiences; the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace flagship vessel or the newest wreck - HMNZS Canterbury - sunk for divers in mind
BONUS - Have a Pipi Bomb at Pipi Patch Bar!
No visit "The Bay" is complete without trying an iconic Pipi Pomb at the Pipi Patch Bar at Base Bay of Islands - go on, we dare you!
Planning a visit to New Zealand? Check out our Complete Guide to Backpacking New Zealand!