15 Things to Do in Bay of Islands, New Zealand: 2021 Updated

Activities to Do in Bay of Islands

Things to do in Bay of Islands, New Zealand includes Cruise Around the Bay and Outer Islands, Cycling, Visit Rainbow Falls, Go fishing, Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling and many more.

The range of things to do in Bay of Islands oscillates from adrenaline pumping to relaxed and indulgent. You can parasail at the height of 1200 feet, rejuvenate with a whole massage body or beauty treatment, and cruise to the Bay of Islands’ ever popular “Hole in the rock”. With native forest, waterfalls, and stunning beaches, Paihia in the Bay of Islands is a park for backpacker-budget-friendly activities.

You will be amazed at the amount of free things to do in Bay of islands. For starters, you can borrow a kayak for free at one of the Paihia hostels and go kayaking. You can borrow bikes and get to explore the Bay of Islands in entirety. There is also nothing quite like making your way through the Opua Forest Walk and reaching the lookout point where you can enjoy heart-stirring views of the islands jutting out on the water and surrounding towns. Indulge in an array of bay of islands activities that includes everything from fishing to barefoot sailing, and dolphin viewing. An overnight cruise in the Bay is another activity that will leave you dazzled for life.

Here is the list of things to do in Bay of Islands:

Explore All (36)

Cruise Around the Bay and Outer Islands

Explore the most beloved smaller and outer islands of the Bay of Islands through a cruise that takes you through the idyllic and scenic collection of 144 islands. During the voyage you will set out to explore the massive 16-meters high tunnel of The Hole in the Rock, carved by the ocean, the picturesque Paihia town, the striking Urupukapuka island replete with historical Maori sites, and lovely walking trails.

Another star attraction of the cruise along the Bay of Islands includes a visit to the Kawiti Caves that houses thousands of illuminating glow worms making for a spectacular sight besides the gleaming stalactites and stalagmites. 

Pahia, Kerikeri, and Urupukapuka islands, Bay of Islands


Try Cycling

Enjoy a coast-to-coast ride between the peaceful harbor of Hokianga and the Bay of Islands with views of the rolling farmlands, native forest, wetlands and the coastal region. The trails are smooth one dedicated cycle paths that offer you the opportunity to explore the cultural and historical sites here.

The ride has a predominant grading of 1-2 (easy-easiest) hence is suitable for any kind of rider. You can try both off and on-road riding on the smooth and wide trail with gentle climbs.

Location: Kaikohe, Bay of Islands


Visit Rainbow Falls

The 27-meter spectacular Rainbow Falls is roughly 30 minutes from Paihia. This waterfall relaxes you with its sheer trickle and lets you jump on in and frolic in a catchment that lies directly underneath. This single-drop waterfall has water tumbling into a pool surrounded by dense native bush.

You can spot fantails flitting about or hear the tui call near the falls. Do not forget to take a refreshing dip here in the pool below the falls, or just enjoy a gorgeous close-up view.

Location: Kerikeri 0295, New Zealand


Go Fishing

Also called the Anglers Eldorado the Bay of Islands has fishes in abundance. Thus, one of the most exciting things to do in Bay of Islands is to go fishing for an entire day, a few hours or four days even. There are many charters that will offer you the capabilities and comfort of a memorable fishing experience.

You will be in complete awe of the inshore catches that will include species of trevally, the delicious kahawai, kingfish, grouper and the lip-smacking snapper. You can also opt for light-tackle or salt-water fly fishing here at the Bay.

Paihia, Bay of Islands


Experience Skydive

Packed with excitement and adrenaline, skydiving at the Bay of Islands is one of the most adventurous things to do in Bay of Islands. First, you will cruise up to a height of 9000 feet and from there you will soak up the scenery of all the 144 islands that collectively make up the Bay of Islands.

The spectacular views of the lush countryside, golden beaches and the turquoise water will amaze you beyond imagination. Sitting on the plane’s edge, building your anticipation, you prepare to make an exit and finally jump. After an insane freefall of 20 seconds you will float beneath a canopy before landing at the drop zone. Flexing your courage muscles you can also take it to the limit and book for a 20,000 feet jump with a free fall that lasts 85 seconds.

182 Wiroa Road, Kerikeri 0475, New Zealand


Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling

With the pristine blue waters and multitude of locations to explore around the Bay of 
Islands’ 144 islands, you can fulfill your snorkeling and scuba diving dream. These activities may not be some of the free things to do in Bay of Islands but the sheer variety of snorkeling and diving sights will always fascinate you.

Explore the shipwrecks here, the local beach dives and offshore islands as you try the scallop and crayfish dives. No matter what location you choose for your activity, never part with your underwater camera.

Location: Paihia Dive


Kayaking to Haruru Falls

One of the most fascinating free things to do in Bay of Islands is to Kayak or walk to the gorgeous Haruru Falls. Haruru means “big noise” and you will experience the maddening noise right under these horseshoe-shaped magic falls that has water gurgling down in full power.

You will totally enjoy a paddle in modern sea kayaks with spray skirts and rudders to keep the water out. Exploring the mangrove forests up the Waitangi river will let you get close to the falls and click stunning photos as you take thrilling plunge under the waterfall.

Location : 80 Haruru Falls Road, Waitangi 0204, New Zealand


Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

One of the most educative things to do in Bay of Islands is to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. A 5-minute drive from Paihia, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is one of New Zealand’s most historic locations. A visit here instantly lets you get the feel of what New Zealand is all about, the minute you walk through native bush across the boardwalks, to view the Maori artifacts.

This place represents the signing of Waitangi Treaty: a founding agreement between the British and Maori. You will spend time witnessing the Carved Meeting House, The Flagstaff, The War Canoes, and the Waitangi Museum besides watching a colorful Maori cultural performance while enjoying a sip of your favourite drink.

Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi 0293, New Zealand


Check Out the Hell Hole of the Pacific

Visiting Koror?reka, now known as Russel, is one of the most didactic things to do in Bay of Islands. Russell is called the hell hole of the Pacific because long back when the ships were here in the port, their crews on a leave would let loose and contributed to the roaring trade of the brothels and grog shops. Life on the waterfront was rowdy, violent and sometimes rough hence Koror?reka earned the nickname “hellhole of the Pacific.”

Today this peaceful resort town is a complete contrast from the time when it used to be a lawless community. It welcomes visitors to witness its windy waterfront, and the beautiful town that it is today, 200 years since its establishment.

Location: Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand


Try Parasailing

See the Bay of Islands’ spectacular paradise by indulging in one of the most enchanting things to do in Bay of Islands. Parasailing offers you your lifetime’s best high-flying experience. With options of triple parasail, tandem and solo flights, you will check out the breathtaking vistas on the Bay with an adrenaline shot thrown in too.

You get to soar to a height of 1300 feet and above as you take in birds-eye views of the whole bay and its islands. Even children as young as 8-9 years can try this activity that lasts ten minutes.

Paihia, New Zealand


Explore Pompallier House

Built in the year 1841, the Pompallier House is a French Catholic Mission of the 19th century. Located in Russell this small museum still runs as a printery. You come here and witness the original printing press first-hand, a factory and tannery that the mission operated. This printing press printed more than 30,000 books.

The wonderful stories connected to this place will mesmerize you and you can also explore the award-winning gardens in their spectacular beach-side setting offering mind-boggling views across the bay to Waitangi. Come to the Pompallier house and try some enlightening things to do in Bay of Islands like binding books, tanning a hide and much more.

5 The Strand, Russell 0202, New Zealand


Visit Parrot Place

Located just 15 minutes away from the Kerikeri Airport this Bird breeding display center is one of the best walk-in aviaries that you will ever come across. Visiting this glorious subtropical garden is one of the most captivating things to do in Bay of Islands as you enjoy the colorful plumage of several exotic parrots besides laughing at their entertaining antics.

You can get close to the friendly pet parrots and have many photos taken with them. In the walk-through aviaries you can also feed these beautiful parrots while your kids go all out and wild in the picnic area and play park located in the Parrot Place’s premises.

1 Mission Road, Kerikeri 0230, New Zealand


Check Out the Russell Museum

Image Credit : facebook.com/RussellMuseum
One of the most fascinating things to do in Bay of Islands is to check out the Russell Museum that exhibits everything about the history of these Islands besides bundles of information. This museum tells the development of Kororareka/Russell, from a tiny fishing village of the Maori, to a port of call for the whalers and visiting ships to the tourist town of today.

This informative local museum contains tons of Maori artifacts like a small waka (canoe), Maori taonga, an original whaleboat, and game fisherman’s mementos. Stroll through the grounds of the museum and you will discover many Maori herbal plants in the garden here. You will witness Captain Cook’s ship’s massive replica besides several other historical photographs.

2 York Street, Russell 0202, New Zealand


Visit Tane Mahuta

A five-minute walk from the Waip?ua Forest’s roadside will bring you to the 2000-year old Tane Mahuta’s foot that is the largest living Kauri tree. This tree is also called the Lord of the Forest and the crown of this tree sustains as many as 40 species of nesting birds, ferns and plants. Before entering the area of the tree you have to pass through a cleaning station where you have to wash and brush the sole of your shoe to prevent anything outlandish from entering the quaint wilderness.

Once you are led inside the jungle, you will find the dense canopy blocking out the sun, the temperature dropping and the fading away of the sounds of the world.

Waipoua Kauri Forest 0376, New Zealand


Explore Ninety Mile Beach

Explore one of the most untainted and natural beaches in the whole wide world for the most entertaining beach activities. There are many free things to do in Bay of Islands that include dolphin-spotting, whale-spotting, swimming and beach fishing. This popular spot for a fun holiday lets you experience some of the most spectacular sunsets and high sand dunes bordered by the mystical, dense green Aupouri Forest.

You will thoroughly enjoy exploring this secluded beach that offers the most diverse fishing. You can catch the yellowtail kingfish, elephant shark, snapper, salmon, gummy shark and whiting here. The surreal landscape of the beach lets you enjoy the views of the towering sand hills and practice the thrilling and unique sport of sand boarding.

Kaitaia, New Zealand (western coast of the far north of the North Island of New Zealand)

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People Also Ask About New Zealand

  1. Is the Bay of Islands worth visiting?

    Yes, the Bay of Islands is totally worth visiting because you can watch the dolphins and whales swim at Kaikoura and Nelson beaches besides the National Park of Abel Tasman. This popular summer getaway destination is dotted with 144 islands, and is home to stunning golden beaches and is a complete boater’s paradise. You can make the most of many free things to do in bay of islands that include biking and kayaking.
  2. How many days do you need in the Bay of Islands?

    Three-four days should be great for a tour of the Bay of Islands. The 3-4 days itinerary will let you enjoy many free things to do in Bay of islands like biking, kayaking and making the most of several walking trails. In this 3-4 day trip you will be taken on an adventure trip that lets you witness the authentic New Zealand, rich in charm and beauty.

    Other things to do in Bay of Islands include visiting the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on day one, Kerikeri on day two, set forth on a“Hole in the Rock” Cruise on the third day and scout the charming Russel town on the final/fourth day.
  3. Why is the Bay of Islands of interest to tourists?

    The Bay of Islands is of great interest to the tourists because its sheltered waters make it an ideal place to view a plethora of marine life. You can spot everything from seals, to whales and dolphins even. The Rainbow Falls in the Bay of Islands is another location that will mesmerize you with its viewing platforms and you will enjoy a refreshing swim sesh under the falls.

    The Parrot Place is a popular Kerikeri Aviary that is home to 300 species of birds like king parrots, kakarikis and gold macaws that entertain kids and adults. There are many Bay of Islands activities like skydiving, dolphin watching and parasailing that draw hundreds and thousands of tourists each year.
  4. How long is the drive from Auckland to the Bay of Islands?

    The drive from Auckland to Bay of Islands is three hours forty-five minutes long if you are traveling via state highway one.
  5. What can you do in Paihia for free?

    There are several Bay of Islands activities in Paihia that you can try for free. These include biking, kayaking, and tackling an ocean circuit for swimming. Some of the other things to do in Bay of Islands  is catching dinner like a local, swimming with the stingrays and riding the Twin Coast Cycleway.
  6. How far is the Bay of Islands from Whangarei?

    Bay of Islands is 77.1 kilometers away from Whangarei and it will take 1 hour 38 minutes to reach if you are driving via state highway 1.
  7. How far is the Bay of Islands from Auckland?

    The Bay of Islands is approximately 240 kilometres/149 miles away from Auckland. It will take 4 hours 15 minutes to reach the Bay of Islands from Auckland if you are coming by a vehicle.

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