Welcome to Bay of Islands & Northland

Beaches are the main drawcard and they’re here in profusion. Visitors from more crowded countries are sometimes flummoxed to wander onto beaches without a scrap of development or another human being in sight. The west coast shelters the most spectacular remnants of the ancient kauri forests that once blanketed the top of the country; the remaining giant trees are an awe-inspiring sight and one of the nation’s treasures.

It’s not just natural attractions that are on offer: history hangs heavily here. The site of the earliest settlements of both Māori and Europeans, Northland is unquestionably the birthplace of the nation.

Top experiences in Bay of Islands & Northland

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Bay of Islands & Northland activities

$75.14 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Bay of Islands and Cape Brett Catamaran Cruise

Meet you guide at the Maritime Building in Paihia or The Strand Wharf in Russell for your 3 hour Bay of Islands cruise. Pass through the famous Cape Brett "Hole in the Rock" at Motukokako Island.The crew share with you local history and ecology and you will often see a variety of marine wildlife including Whales, Seals, Dolphins, Penguins, and other sea and bird life.Hop off in Russell or Paihia for more exploring after your cruise and use your complimentary ferry ticket to get back.

$103.41 Day Trips & Excursions

Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach Tour from Bay of Islands

Explore one of the most amazing stretches of coastline in Oceania on a custom-built coach that keeps you comfortable as it moves effortlessly over sandy beaches, rugged roads and quicksand streams. Start your New Zealand North Island adventure day trip with a stop at the Puketi Forest, home to 1,000-year-old kauri trees, some of the most ancient trees in the world. Walk along a ground-level boardwalk that meanders around the trunks of the trees and learn more about the area from the information panels located throughout the walk.After you leave the Puketi Forest, you’ll head to Taipa Beach resort for a morning tea stop right on the beach front. From Here we head to Houhora Harbour for your complimentary lunch at Wagner’s Holiday Park. Later you will go to Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand. You’ll feel as though you’re standing on the edge of the world as you watch the Pacific Ocean collide with the Tasman Sea.Maori legend says that Cape Reinga is the departure point for spirits on their way to the Maori homeland in Hawaiki. There are no shops on Cape Reinga, and eating and drinking is frowned upon in order to show respect for this sacred Maori site. From Cape Reinga, your tour continues down the North Island’s coast. Your first stop is the giant sand dunes at the Te Paki Quicksand Stream, where you can try your hand at sandboarding. Experience an exhilarating ride down the face of a dune on a boogie board! Finally, get back on the Waverider coach and head south on Ninety Mile Beach. This strikingly beautiful stretch of unpopulated beach, is a marked contrast to the bustle of the island’s East Coast, and you will have plenty of opportunities to stick your toes in the sand and help your guide dig for shellfish. Your New Zealand North Island adventure ends with your return drive to Paihia.

$106.85 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Bay of Islands Tall Ship Sailing Tour and Barbecue Lunch

Catch the breeze and set sail for the day from either Paihia or Russell on board the unique tall ship "R. Tucker Thompson", built in the tradition of 100 year old schooners by local Northlanders. She has sailed the world but today will explore the somewhat calmer seas of the Bay of Islands with you on board. Help set the sails, take the helm or just lie back on deck and relax. Hear tales of the ship's exploits from the crew. Enjoy the Devonshire tea freshly baked and brewed in the galley each morning. At lunchtime the vessel anchors in a secluded bay. Step ashore, take a swim or try swinging from the yardarm. With all this sea air and activity you'll have a hearty appetite - taken care of by a tasty barbecue lunch cooked on board. Return to either Paihia or Russell this afternoon.If departing from Paihia you will need to take the regular ferry (departs every 20-minutes) to Russel wharf to meet the tall ship R. Tucker Thompson. Note return ferry pass is included..

$91 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

The Cream Trip, Day in the Bay

Your one-of-a-kind Bay of Islands cruise departs from the Paihia Wharf and then picks up more passengers about 10 minutes later in Russell — you may hop aboard at either of these locations. On board your jet-powered, multi-level catamaran with both indoor and outdoor seating, cruise through the Bay of Islands — named for its nearly 150 islands — heading toward Cape Brett, the far eastern tip in the bay. Admire great views from the boat's spacious decks while you listen to the crew share information about the region’s history and ecology. Keep your eyes open for marine life like seals, dolphins, whales, penguins and sea birds. Your cruise isn’t just for sightseeing, though — it’s a Cream Trip, a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s when a boat was used to transport cream and other supplies between the islands and the mainland. This means you’ll get up-close views of sandy beaches and island homes as you stop to deliver mail and other supplies to local residents. When you reach Cape Brett, check out its noted landmark, a natural arch known as Hole in the Rock. Then your captain will let you know if the weather and water conditions allow for swimming in an area where dolphins like to hang out (optional, must be pre-booked; own expense). If you’re interested, you can use a provided wetsuit and snorkeling gear. About halfway through the day, stop on a local Island for 1.5 hours of free time to take a scenic walk, go for a swim or relax on the beach. There is a full bar on board as well as tea, coffee and snacks available for purchase (own expense). Limited lunch options are also available but must be pre-ordered at least 24-hours prior to departure. Your cruise ends with return to Russell and Paihia.

$104.79 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Half-Day Bay of Islands Discovery Tour from Paihia

Cruise and discover the very best of the Bay of Islands. Experience the spectacular scenery in an area that is soaked in rich culture and history. Encounter diverse wildlife in their natural surroundings.Cruise among the 144 islands with skipper's commentary including a visit to the iconic Hole in the Rock and when conditions permit, travel through it. View dolphins, with a success rate of over 90% of our trips along with other wildlife.Your trip will also include an island stop at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island with full catering (lunch or early dinner) and an opportunity to interact with our experienced Nature Guides.

$179.24 Air, Helicopter & Balloon Tours

Bay of Islands and Hole in the Rock Scenic Helicopter Tour

Discover the natural beauty of the Bay of Islands by helicopter as you fly over crystal blue waters, beautiful island beaches and stunning scenery. You’ll also enjoy a fabulous perspective of the region’s most famous natural formation, the Hole in the Rock, only possible to see by air or water. With different options available, you can now choose to try the unique experience of landing on top of the Hole in the Rock. Select the 20-minute option for a scenic helicopter flight that will take you over the historic townships of Russell, Paihia and Waitangi, where the treaty between the British colonialists and local Maori people was signed. For a unique experience, select the scenic helicopter flight and Hole in Rock landing option. Fly over the Bay of Islands, before landing for 15 minutes on the newly built helipad on top of the Hole in Rock. Exit the helicopter and be surrounded by steep cliffs and stunning scenery. Take in the views towards Cape Brett. There are also plenty of photo opportunities. For the ultimate experience, select the Hole in Rock landing and walk option. You'll enjoy a scenic helicopter flight over the Bay of Islands before landing on top of the Hole in the Rock. Take a short walk with your Maori guide who will share the island's unique history. as well as its cultural and ecological significance. Very few people in history, including Maori, have ever ventured on the island in this way before! All seats on board the helicopter provide spectacular views, and your pilot will provide commentary and point out the must-see sights. All flights require a MINIMUM of 2 PASSENGERS to confirm, single passengers may need to be waitlisted pending further bookings

Bay of Islands & Northland in detail