Bay of Islands New Zealand: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Bay of Islands New Zealand: The Ultimate Travel Guide

The Bay of Islands New Zealand is one of the most spectacular destinations that can visit throughout the year. Made up of 144 islands and historic towns, it is totally an island paradise. It is also filled with golden sand beaches, a variety of marine life, and mountainous background. Since New Zealand’s north side is located, the Bay of Islands is blessed to have a winterless warm climate year-round.

So, I suggest you not miss this destination when you are on your tour to New Zealand.

Bay of Islands New Zealand

Bay of Islands New Zealand Map

The Bay of Islands New Zealand is a natural harbor with a 16km width on New Zealand’s North Island. As I mentioned in the introduction, there are 144 islets in this Bay.

On the northern end, Kerikeri and Te Puna (Mangonui) inlets are there. And on the southern side, the Waikare inlet is there. Out of those 144 islands, there are large inhabited islands as well as totally private farms. And the major towns in and around the Bay of Islands are Paihia, Russel, Kerikeri, Kawakawa, and Opua. Other highlighted towns are Waitangi, Hokianga, and Cape Reinga.

Bay of Islands New Zealand Map

How long does it take to drive from Auckland to the Bay of Islands?

Ok, I will tell you how to reach the Bay of Islands from central Auckland. Before that, I must tell you that, if this is your first time in New Zealand, you should know, New Zealand roads are somewhat narrow and windy. So, it isn’t easy to drive hours compared with other countries.

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If you start your journey from Auckland, you should take the inland road to reach Kawakawa. It is a small town located on the North Island of New Zealand. This route (State Highway 1) shows you the hidden beauty of New Zealand with stunning views. After driving for around 3 hours (212.5 km), you can reach the Bay of Islands near Kawakawa.

Since the route is unique and stunning, I suggest some detours on your way. When you travel around one and a half hours, turn off the main road at Waipu. It is a small city that has Scottish heritage.

And then, again, continue on the main road for another 30 minutes. There you will find Whangarei. It is the ideal place to fulfill your hunger since it has many restaurants and cafes. So, you can rest and have some food there. And if you like to extend that mini journey to a picnic, plan to visit nearby Whangarei Falls.

Finally, at the end of 3 hours, you can reach the Bay of Islands’ gateway, Kawakawa. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

Bay of Islands New Zealand Weather

I have already mentioned that the Bay of Islands has a pleasant climate throughout the year. And it is dominated by a subtropical climate with high temperatures. The summer temperature is around 24°C, while the winter temperature is not very low (16°C). However, the bay of Islands’ climate changes with four seasons Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring.

Summer is the perfect time to visit the Bay of Islands New Zealand. It is pleasantly hot with a varied temperature between 25 to 27°C. And the summer starts in December, and it runs till February. The daytime is sunny and hot, while nighttime is pleasant and windy by providing perfect beach walking opportunities. Therefore, the majority of tourists attract here in the summer. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

The Autumn in the Bay of Islands begins in March and ends in May. Having an average temperature of 20°C, but sometimes it declines to around 11°C. So, if I summarise, the autumn is cooler than summer. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

In the winter months of June, July, and August, the Bay of Islands gets severe rainfall. And the temperature declines between 16°C to 7°C. Most adventure travelers visit this season to get unique experiences like swimming with dolphins and taking cruises.

The Spring starts in September and runs till November. And this season calls “the magical season” since it has a perfect leisurely climate. And also, some colorful flowers bloom by decoring nature. The Bay of Islands gets good rainfall in the spring, and the temperature varies from 19°C to 9°C. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

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How many days do you need in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand?

North Island in New Zealand is a paradise for tourists around the world. Highlighting the three regions, the Bay of Islands, Coromandel Peninsula, and Rotorua attract plenty of travelers annually. If you are looking to explore the whole North Island, I suggest you have at least one week.

The easiest way to reach the North Island is to fly to Auckland. Since traveling from Auckland to the North Island is easier than any other method. And also, it offers many opportunities to see the beauty of New Zealand.

There are so many things to do in Auckland. If you want, you can plan to experience them as well. For example, harbor cruises, shopping, walk on the Auckland beaches, and spectacular views of Auckland are some of them.

The next day, you can travel to Kerikeri on the North Island from Auckland within 3 hours. The Bay of Islands is also located nearby. I suggest you spend at least 3 days in that area to feel the beauty in a relaxing way. As a scenery beach lover, I spent there for 3 days. Filled with waterfalls, stunning beaches, mountains, snorkeling spots, kayaking chances, and many more adventures, the Bay of Island is such a paradise in New Zealand. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

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Bay of Islands activities

This stunningly beautiful and historically significant destination in New Zealand offers you a lot more to discover. If you doubt that “Is Bay of Island worth visiting,” just read the following activities. Because it will surely prove to you that it is totally worth to travel to the Bay of Islands New Zealand.

Visit waterfalls in the Bay of Islands

There are several waterfalls around the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. One of the stunning ones is Rainbow Falls. Since it is the most accessible one, all the travelers are attracted to it. The most special feature of this falls is that there are several viewpoints of this falls. They are top, bottom, behind, and many more. It is a single drop fall that originated from the Kerikeri River.

Visit waterfalls in the Bay of Islands

On the other hand, the trails are developed safely, and even there’s a wheelchair-accessible trail. Supernatural bushes and trees surround those trails. And also, they are connected to some other hiking trails as well. So, if you want, you can extend the tour.

The next highlighted one is Haruru Falls. You will find this stunning fall in Paihia. This waterfall is horseshoe-shaped, and the meaning of Haruru is “a big noise.” And it is an ideal place for kayaking, cruising, and picnicking.

On the other hand, there are some awesome cruises to this Haruru Falls as well. For example, Darryl’s Dinner Cruise offers you the chance to have dinner by staying at the stunning Haruru Falls’ bottom. This cruise goes through the Waitangi River to Haruru. And it offers you the chance to see the stunning coastal views, wildlife and great opportunity to enjoy with your friends and family. And cannot forget the taste of the food and the quality of Darryl’s Dinner Cruise’s drinks. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

Bay of Islands Cruise

There are so many cruise types around the Bay of Islands New Zealand. Whatever the adventure type, most cruises are starting from Paihia Wharf (departure point of cruises and boats from the Bay of Islands).

The world-famous “The Rock,” a purpose-built houseboat in the Bay of Islands, offers you overnight cruises around the islands. Starting from Paihia, it gives you the chance to experience this Bay of Islands’ subtropical climate for a whole day. Although it is adventurous, anyone can join it. The facilities are super warm and homely, with a capacity of 36. They provide you with opportunities like Island walks, kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, fishing, having sea food, and stargazing within one day.

Bay of Islands Cruise

Joining with the Hole in the Rock Cruise is also a great opportunity for you. Daily cruises are starting from Paihia and Russel. It will take you to the iconic landmark “Hole in the Rock” through the 144 scenery Bay of Islands. The journey is filled with scenes of seals, dolphins, whales, and Orcas or killer whales with the various bird types in the sky. You can then cruise through the “Hole in the Rock” and enter the “Cathedral Caves.”

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Viewing Dolphins in the Bay of Islands is one of the top things to do in New Zealand. So, join a dolphin cruise there. Normally the Bay of Islands area is frequent with whales and dolphins all the time. So, you can catch them to your camera for sure.

All of the above cruises offer you the chance to visit the nearby islands like Urupukapuka when they come back to the port. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

Get a Bike Ride to explore more

If you think the Bay of Islands is all about water activities, no, it is wrong. There are some other adventure activities as well. Twin Coast Cycle Trail is such a great opportunity for any level of mountain bike rider to explore the Bay of Islands. It has an around 85km long trail through railway tunnels and some remote countrysides.

On the other hand, Waitangi Mountain Bike Park is another adventure downhill biking trail that you can try. But, it is only for good riders.

Scuba Dive and Snorkeling in the Bay of Islands

Scuba Dive and Snorkeling in the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands New Zealand is one of the best places in the world for scuba diving and snorkeling. From marine mammals to different kinds of fishes and corals in the ocean around the Bay of Islands. And the companies like Paihia Dive offer you the training and chances to get the best diving and snorkeling opportunities. They train you and take you to the best reefs, wrecks, and underwater caves rich with colorful corals. And also, you are getting a chance to swim with colorful fish and other marine life. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

Kayak in the Bay of Islands New Zealand

Now you already know one of the best kayaking places in the Bay of Islands. It is on the Waitangi River till the Haruru Falls. And you can experience this epic and adventurous tour of kayaking while seeing the gorgeous wildlife. Just refer to the above line to explore more kayaking opportunities in the Bay of Islands New Zealand.

Kayak in Haruru Falls

And also, kayaking through the Hole in the Rock is also adventurous and unique. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

Visit Urupukapuka Island

Urupukapuka Island Bay of Islands

Urupukapuka Island is one of the best islands of the Bay of Islands. It is the largest island out of all the other 144 that has lovely beaches, birds, wildlife, forests, and historically important sites like Maori pa sites. Some cruises include a visit to this island since there is a lot more to discover.

Skydive or Parasail to be more adventurous

If you are a crazy traveler with some money, then here’s the chance for you. Skydive in the sky of the Bay of Islands at around 16,000 ft high. If you are lucky to have the ideal climate, then your skydiving guide will drop you at the best drop point above the ocean. Just check their website for more details and the training requirements.

Skydive Bay of Islands New Zealand

Another thrilling and adventurous thing you can do in the Bay of Islands is parasailing. Flying Kiwi Parasail is the best provider of this experience. It surely offers you a great opportunity to watch an overview of the islands. (Bay of Islands New Zealand)

Visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds

This is a historically important site in the country. Actually, this is where the treaty of Waitangi was signed and created the New Zealand nation. In this area, Waitangi Treaty Grounds includes the Waitangi museum, colonial house, Waka House, cultural shows, bush walks, and guided tours.

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