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Welcome to Paihia, the gateway to the glorious Bay of Islands. You might be wondering what you can do on these 144 lush green islands surrounded by glistening turquoise waters? What kind of activities you can you get up to? From a relaxed cruise to a scuba diving adventure, great food or NZ history, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in the Bay of Islands.   

1. Check out Paihia

Known as “the jewel of the Bay of Islands”, Paihia has a scenic seaside walking track with views of small islands and safe swimming beaches. It’s also full of businesses – cafes, shops and restaurants – with a local flavour.


2. Go to Urupukapuka

Source: Andy Rogers.

The Bay’s largest island, Urupukapuka has dramatic green hillsides, secluded beaches with sparkling seawater and deep green forest. Catch a ferry to the jetty of Otehei Bay and you can take a self-guided walk, hire a paddleboard or kayak to explore secluded coves or just chill out on the beach.  


3. Visit Waitangi

Source: Sara Orme

Travel back through history to the birthplace of New Zealand as a nation at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Museum of Waitangi. You’ll see the spot where Maori chiefs signed NZ’s most important document with the British crown in 1840. You can also see a carved meeting house and the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe, two eye-catching sights in that traditional Maori style.    


4. Scuba Dive in Paihia


The Bay of Islands is the ideal place to have a deep-sea adventure, see some eye-catching marine life and become a skilled scuba diver. Paihia Dive has trips and packages to two shipwrecks: HMNZS Canterbury and Rainbow Warrior. You can also see deep underwater caverns, kelp forests and large sea creatures.

5. Check out ‘The Hole in the Rock’

Source: Matt Lemmon

Motu Kōkako, also known as Piercy Island, is a tower of rock jutting out of the ocean with a hole in it large enough to steer a boat through. Take a cruise and make sure you bring your camera.


6. Explore Waipoua Forest

Source: Destination Northland

In NZ’s kauri forests you can stand among trees that were fully grown before any humans arrived. And Waipoua Forest is Northland’s biggest and most famous. Although this forest is full of large trees, the biggest is Tane Mahuta – more than 2,000 years old and 51 metres tall, it’s apparently still growing.


7. Go chasing waterfalls

Source: Gadfium

New Zealand is known for its lovely waterfalls, and here you can wander to Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri or Haruru Falls, recognisable for its short, wide shape. Close to Paihia, Haruru Falls is also one of our most accessible places to visit in the Bay of Islands.

8. Visit Kerikeri Mission Station

Source: PerPlex

Another fascinating piece of NZ history, this station was established in 1819 when Europeans arrived to spread the Christian message among the Maori people. It’s made up of two buildings: the Stone Store, an ex-warehouse turned authentic goods shop, and Kemp House, NZ’s oldest building and still full of items from missionary families.



9. Bay of Islands dining


Eating out is one of our less obvious (but no less satisfying) Bay of Islands activities. From waterfront dining in Paihia at a local favourite like Alfresco’s Restaurant and Bar to fine dining in Russell and Kerikeri to fish and chips on the beach, the Bay of Islands caters to all tastes. 


10. Skydive


What better way to see these magnificent islands than from 16,000 feet up in the air? Book a jump with Skydive Bay of Islands and have an adrenaline-fuelled adventure you’ll be sure to remember.


Further Reading

10 Things to do on Your Getaway to the Bay of Islands 

10 Great Bay of Island Adventure Tours

10 of the top Golf Courses near Paihia

Top 13 Restaurants in Paihia

Puketi Nature Trail