Welcome to Bay of Islands


It's also a place of enormous historical significance. Māori knew it as Pēwhairangi and settled here early in their migrations. As the site of NZ’s first permanent British settlement (at Russell), it is the birthplace of European colonisation in the country. It was here that the Treaty of Waitangi was drawn up and first signed in 1840; the treaty remains the linchpin of race relations in NZ today.


Top experiences in Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands activities

$76.61 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.

$184.85 Day Trips & Excursions

Bay of Islands Day Tour from Auckland

After pickup from your centrally-located Auckland hotel or the Sky City coach terminal, you’ll travel by comfortable air-conditioned coach approximately three hours to Paihia, the jumping off point for touring the Bay of Islands. Relax as you motor along the scenic route and avail yourself of free on board WIFI. When you arrive in Paihia, you’ll head to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds for a guided tour of this historical site, where in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi–considered the founding document of the nation–was signed by 43 Maori chiefs and the British Crown. You’ll visit the Waitangi Treaty House, built in 1832 as a private home and now a museum with informational displays, including a copy of the treaty. Nearby you'll find an elaborately decorated Maori meeting house and a large waka (war canoe) with photographs depicting its construction from gigantic logs. After visiting Waitingi, you’ll take a short ferry ride to Russell for a 1-hour coach tour of this charming town with a wild past. Find out why Russell was once known as the 'Hellhole of the Pacific' and see historical highlights including the Pompallier Mission, Christ Church, and New Zealand’s oldest pub. From the top of Flagstaff Hill, you’ll get panoramic views over the bay and learn about the historical controversy surrounding the flagstaff in the 1840s. You’ll have free time to spend at your leisure when the guided tour concludes in Russell. Relax in town and explore Russell’s cafes, shops, waterfront, museum and art galleries featuring Maori artists. After a scenic and informative full-day tour, you’ll reboard your coach and be returned to Auckland.

$108.94 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..

$96.99 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Best of the Bay Supercruise: Original Cream Trip

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.

$106.83 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.

$702.13 Multi-day & Extended Tours

3-Day Bay of Islands Trip from Auckland

Day 1 - Auckland to Bay of IslandsDepart Auckland on an air-conditioned coach via the Auckland Harbour Bridge, heading north along the Hibiscus Coast to the beautiful Bay of Islands. Arriving in the town of Paihia, also known as the jewel of the Bay of Islands, you'll visit the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It was here that the 1840 treaty was signed between Maori and the British Crown. Spend the rest of your day at your own leisure. Accommodation at the Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands or similar.Day 2 - Cape Reinga, Bay of IslandsYour tour departs this morning and takes you through Puketi Kauri Forest, an ancient subtropical rainforest. You'll travel along the aptly named Ninety Mile Beach to the northernmost point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. A BBQ lunch is included, followed by an afternoon museum visit before returning to Paihia. Accommodation at the Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands or similar.Day 3 - Bay of Islands to AucklandThis morning you will board the Fullers Cruise for a memorable trip to Cape Brett and Piecy Island, traveling through the famous "Hole in the Rock" (weather permitting). On your return, disembark in Russell, the first capital of New Zealand, and enjoy a sightseeing tour of this historic township. Board the ferry back to Paihia, then rejoin your coach for the return to Auckland, where your tour concludes.Accommodation: The Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands has a sub-tropical resort ambience and is situated at the entrance to the seaside town of Paihia. It is a pleasant stroll into town to access the main wharf, visitor activities, fine dining and shopping. All rooms include Sky TV, minibar, fridge, telephone, high-speed internet access, hair dryer and ironing facilities. Hotel facilities include 24-hour reception, swimming pool, internet kiosk, lounge bar and restaurant.

Bay of Islands in detail