If you are planning a visit to New Zealand then a trip to Paihia is a must! The Bay of Islands sit upon the shores of Paihia which is a beachside town located around 3 hours north of Auckland. It's a great place for a road trip and all the tour buses (like the Kiwi Experience and Stray New Zealand hop on hop off buses) also stop in the town of Paihia overnight.

What to do in Paihia

1. Explore the Islands!

144 islands make up the bay of islands - each differing in character. The Bay of Islands can be compared to the Whitsunday Islands in Australia - but they're a LOT less touristy! There are a number of island sailing tours and ferries 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, beachside 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 Paihia 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 grounds you can explore a number of historical buildings and monuments including The Treaty House, The Carved Meeting House, a Ceremonial War Canoe and more!

Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds


4. See Wild 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 spot the curious creatures! Please note that even though you can swim and snorkel on most of the dolphin spotting tours, this no longer includes swimming with dolphins due to restrictions on marine mammal interactions.

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 away: Puketi Forest & Omahuta Forest are within 20 minutes drive.

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 oceans 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!

Cape Reinga Lighthouse

By User:Gadfium [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

8. Parasail

Parasailing is a great way to gain fantastic views of the bay - along with it being a thrilling experience!

9. Waterfalls

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.

If you were wondering what to do in Paihia then this list of Paihia activities should have given you an idea of just some of the fabulous things to do here. If not, have a chat with our travel agents who can give you plenty more ideas!

Planning a visit to New Zealand?

Check out our Complete Guide to Backpacking New Zealand!

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