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Adventure, romance, recreation and relaxation – if you’re looking for things to do in the Bay of Islands, read on!
1. Go surfing
Northland and the Bay of Islands boast some of New Zealand's most beautiful beaches, including many top surf spots. They range from safe lifeguard patrolled beaches to secluded offshore reefs that will get your adrenaline pumping. Surf tours and surf schools are also available. Check out Elliot’s Bay, Matauri Bay, Sandy Bay, Rarawa Bay, Baylys Beach, Taupo Bay, Taputupoto Bay, Shipwreck Bay or Hobson's Bay.
2. Take an overnight cruise on Ipipiri
What could be better than cruising around the Bay of Islands all afternoon, kayaking in crystal clear water or exploring deserted island beaches, and then staying at sea overnight? Enjoy a drink on deck as the sun sets, dine on local produce complemented by New Zealand wines, and sleep peacefully in an ocean view cabin before returning to Paihia after breakfast. Find out more about cruising on Ipipiri.
3. Dive the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior
In 1985, French foreign agents bombed Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior to stop her from interfering in nuclear tests in Mururoa, killing one crew member. Two years later, Greenpeace gifted the wreck to the sea and she now lies as an artificial reef in the Cavalli Islands, a home for abundant marine life. If you’re a keen scuba diver, this is one site you must not miss. Local operators run daily dive trips to the site.
4. Play a round of golf
Northland has some of the New Zealand’s most spectacular golf courses. Whether you’re a pro or just a keen amateur, courses like Waitangi, Kauri Cliffs or Carrington are sure to challenge your skills and amaze you with their stunning views.
5. Tempt your tastebuds
The Bay of Islands offers a range of dining options. The Duke of Marlborough in Russell may have a ribald and somewhat chequered history as New Zealand’s first licensed pub, but its fine dining menu is highly rated. Over in Kerikeri, Wharepuke and The Pear Tree offer gourmet cuisine amid scenic locations, and all around the Bay of Islands are dotted boutique vineyards offering tastings, lunch and dinner.
6. Do the Cape Brett Lighthouse walk
If you’re into tramping, this walk is the one for you. Running along the ridge of the Cape Brett Peninsula, it requires a decent level of fitness and contains some tricky clifftop sections. Stay the night in what could be New Zealand’s cheapest accommodation – the old lighthouse keeper’s hut at the end of Cape Brett. You’ll need to book in advance and pay a track fee. Find out more
7. Sail across the Bay as the sun sets
After a day spent exploring the Bay of Islands, step aboard the R. Tucker Thompson for a late afternoon harbour cruise. Sit back with a glass of wine and an antipasto platter, or have a go at climbing the rigging and enjoy the views from way up high on this authentic tall ship. Don’t forget your camera!
8. Use your pedal power
See Northland at your own pace with a trip along the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, just outside the Bay of Islands. All the hard work’s taken care of – you’ll be picked up, fitted for a bike and helmet and dropped at the start of the trail, then collected at the other end. Just enjoy the serenity as you pedal along the trail, which runs along an old rail corridor and offers great views of the countryside.
9. Visit historic Ruapekapeka
Step into a piece of history at Ruapekapeka Pa, 14 kilometres south east of Kawakawa. One of the largest and most complex Maori pa sites in New Zealand, it was the site of Northland’s last great land war battle between British troops and the Nga Puhi tribe, led by Hone Heke and Kawiti. The final assault on the pa took place in January 1846. The ditch and bank defences of the pa are still visible today, along with one of Kawiti's cannons and the well that supplied water to the defenders. The earthen defences of British advance troops are also still visible.
10. Live in luxury
Accommodation in the Bay of Islands ranges from budget backpacking hostels right through to award-winning five-star resorts like the Eagle’s Nest in Russell, and Kauri Cliffs in nearby Matauri Bay. Pamper yourself with a stay at one of these top class lodges for a truly glamorous experience. Whether it’s your honeymoon, anniversary or a ‘just because’ holiday, these luxury accommodation providers will take make your stay unforgettable. Search for Bay of Islands accommodation
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