This aquatic playground is lavishly scattered with 144 islands, clear blue waters, a myriad of secluded beaches and a handful of towns. The stunning scenery, golden beaches, fresh seafood and several historical attractions make it one of the most prominent tourist destinations in New Zealand.
Paihia is the main town in the Bay of Islands and an excellent base from which to explore the region, with an extensive choice of accommodation and dining options. From the wharf you can head out to the outer islands, join a fishing expedition or catch the ferry to Russell. Paihia is also just down the road from the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, establishing New Zealand as a nation of the British Empire.
The town of Russell holds an important place in New Zealand's history, being the country's first sea port, its first European settlement and New Zealand's first capital. The town's streets retain their original layout and names from 1843, and many of its historic buildings can be visited. Kerikeri is another town where you can dip into New Zealand history, browse art galleries or simply enjoy fresh local produce.
No trip to the Bay of Islands would be complete without some time spent in or on the water. If you're looking for adventure, why not try the thrills and spills of parasailing, sailing, kayaking, surfing diving, fishing or, of course, you can simply relax and enjoy the surroundings. This is also a fantastic place to enjoy a cruise or boat trip to take in the majestic scenery, see the famous Hole in the Rock, or seek out some dolphins. For those preferring to stay on dry land, there's plenty to do – mountain biking, golf, horse riding, walking and hiking or shopping for fresh produce at a local farmers' market.
Further north is the fabled strip of sand called Ninety Mile Beach where activities range from blo-karting and swimming to bodyboarding down the sand dunes. Continue north and you'll reach Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet and in Maori culture, it's where departed souls leave New Zealand to return to their spiritual home. Enjoy the relaxing walk to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, watch the swirling currents of the two mighty seas and gaze at the endless blue.
GMT +12 hours.
New Zealand dollar
The Bay of Islands region is located just over 3 hours drive from Auckland. Alternatively you can fly from Auckland to Kerikeri in less than an hour.
This region is dominated by a subtropical climate with summer temperatures averaging around 24ºC while the winter average is 16ºC. In Autumn the temperatures cool slightly and the entire landscape is filled in a hue of different colours, while spring is perfect for idling around and enjoying the flowers as they bloom.