Bay of Islands

Travel Guide
Russell featuring tranquil scenes and a bay or harbour

Swim with dolphins, learn to sail or discover New Zealand’s fascinating history in one of the most beautiful areas in the country.

Visit the stunning Bay of Islands on New Zealand’s North Island and enjoy the many water-based tours, from discovering uninhabited islands dotted around the cold, blue waters to watching dolphins leap around the boat. Enjoy the relaxed, friendly atmosphere in the bay’s towns or retreat to the ancient native forests to be at one with nature.

The Bay of Islands area is one of New Zealand’s premier tourist destinations and it is easy to see why thousands of people flock here each year. Despite its popularity, the Bay of Islands never feels overcrowded.

Most visitors stay in Paihia, a colourful, waterfront town full of cafés and buzzing bars. A short ferry ride across the bay is Russell. This town was the first European settlement in New Zealand. Spend a day wandering the historic streets and admiring the quaint, colonial architecture.

The nearby Waitangi Treaty Grounds are where historic documents were signed by the original Māori people and the “Pākehā”, as the natives called the British newcomers. The agreement allowed the Māoris to keep their culture alive.

The most popular activities in the Bay of Islands involve boat tours. Choose between fishing, dolphin or orca watching and cruising around the islands. If you are feeling adventurous, learn how to sail and windsurf or join a scuba diving tour around some of the outer islands.

For a day away from the water take a walk in the Puketi Forest. Follow trails past giant kauri trees and other native species. Make sure you visit the Haruru Falls, a picturesque waterfall that cascades down the cliff face in the shape of a horseshoe.

The Bay of Islands is located 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Auckland. Driving is the quickest way to get there, although regular buses and organised tours run from Auckland too. Summer is the busiest time, but the Bay of Islands’ prime location in New Zealand’s “winterless north” means that you can enjoy stunning days here year-round.

Where to stay in Bay of Islands

Dolphin Motel
Dolphin Motel
4 out of 5
69 Williams Road, Paihia, 0200
The price is NZ$108 per night from 12 Jun. to 13 Jun.
Stay at this 4-star motel in Paihia. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and an airport shuttle. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the clean rooms in their reviews. ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (471 reviews)
"Close to everything"

Reviewed on 12 May 2022

Dolphin Motel
Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands
Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands
4 out of 5
1 Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi, 0200
The price is NZ$128 per night from 28 May to 29 May
Stay at this 4-star beach hotel in Waitangi. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and 2 outdoor pools. Our guests praise the pool and the helpful staff in their reviews. ...
4/5 Very Good! (993 reviews)
"A lovely couple of days.. ALL the staff friendly and helpful. We did notice some areas that needed maintenance - but overall it was a great good place to stay"

Reviewed on 20 Apr. 2022

Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands
Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands
Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands
4 out of 5
58 Seaview Road, Paihia, 0200
Fully refundableReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is NZ$149 per night from 6 Jun. to 7 Jun.
Stay at this 4-star luxury hotel in Paihia. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and breakfast. Our guests praise the helpful staff in their reviews. Popular attractions ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (816 reviews)
"Heated pool would have been nice"

Reviewed on 26 Apr. 2022

Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Sea Spray Suites - Heritage Collection
Sea Spray Suites - Heritage Collection
4 out of 5
138 Marsden Road, Bay of Islands, Paihia, 0200
The price is NZ$127 per night from 1 Jun. to 2 Jun.
Stay at this 4-star beach aparthotel in Paihia. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and a business centre. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the comfy rooms ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (600 reviews)
"Awesome property, really nice"

Reviewed on 3 Jan. 2022

Sea Spray Suites - Heritage Collection
The Waterfront Suites - Heritage Collection
The Waterfront Suites - Heritage Collection
5 out of 5
100 Marsden Road, Paihia, 0210
The price is NZ$241 per night from 17 May to 18 May
Stay at this 5-star luxury aparthotel in Paihia. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and a beach locale. Our guests praise the helpful staff in their reviews. Popular ...
4.7/5 Exceptional! (611 reviews)

Reviewed on 8 May 2022

The Waterfront Suites - Heritage Collection
Edgewater Palms Apartments
Edgewater Palms Apartments
4 out of 5
8 - 10 Marsden Road, Paihia, 0247
The price is NZ$289 per night from 30 May to 31 May
Stay at this 4-star luxury apartment in Paihia. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and an outdoor pool. Our guests praise the pool and the helpful staff in their ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (186 reviews)
Very happy with our stay.
"Immaculately clean, spacious, comfy and well equipped. Brilliant family holiday location and a high quality place that you can enjoy with your dog too."

Reviewed on 19 Jan. 2022

Edgewater Palms Apartments
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Bay of Islands

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