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The Bay of Islands is a top tourist destination in New Zealand, largely due to it's reliably sunny weather, stunning beaches, and fascinating cultural ties. Families who are travelling to the area should read below for information on what I believe to be the best attractions the area has to offer.
My Top 5 Family Activities in the Bay of Islands
An absolute must-do family day out when visiting The Bay of Islands is a trip to The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed back in 1840. Regular daily tours are held where visitors are guided around the grounds and taught about the areas historical story.
In addition to this, the grounds also hosts entertaining performances and shows in both traditional and more contemporary versions, which the kids tend to really enjoy. There is also regular indoor shows, a history museum and two cafes to choose from.
The Twin Coast Rail Trail involves an enjoyable and easy 20km bike ride from Kaikohe to Okaihau, which takes most people about 2-3 hours. The route takes you through some stunning scenery and is surrounded by native bush for the duration of the trip. Top Trail Hire and Tours take you from Paihea to the start of the track and pick you up at the end, so there's no need to worry about transport. And the best bit is you don't need to be a pro cycler to participate - so it is suitable for all ages and fitness levels!
One of New Zealands most fascinating natural wonders, the Kawiti Caves are home to thousands of glow worms whose luminous glow creates a magical experience for the whole family. Located in Waiomio Valley, it's about a 45 minute drive from Russell and 20 minutes from Paihia, but is well worth the trip either way. The caves have 40 minute guided tours on all day, which includes a short walk through the surrounding native bush on the way.
The history of The Bay of Islands is something you must absorb while on your stay, and one of the best ways to do this is by visiting some of the local historical buildings. The two I would recommend are the Kerikeri Mission House and the Stone Store, both built in the early 1800s. The buildings are adjacent to each other and both represent early European Settlement in New Zealand, the Stone Store being the oldest standing European building in the country. They are now home to open museums and hold guided tours daily.
Located in Kerikeri, Rangemore Llama Farm is the perfect place to take the kids for a break from the history and culture. The cheap admission and a friendly team ensures it will be an enjoyable trip, not to mention being able to get up close to the beautiful Llamas! The kids are taught all about how to care for them in an interactive tour which in my experience appeals to all ages.
Apartment style Bay of Islands accommodation perfect for families
Enjoy the magnificent surroundings of the Paihia beaches or relax in a private luxury cottage in Russell, the choice is yours. The beauty about The Bay of Islands is that nothing is too far away, so no matter what area you decide to stay in you can roam around the neighbouring towns without involving too much travel.
Edgewater Palms - Conveniently across from Pahia's main beach and surrounded by restaurants, cafes and bars, these apartments are the ultimate holiday accommodation. All luxury apartments have access to the lap pool and private covered balconies.
The Waterfront Suites - Ocean views, private balconies and waterfront are just some of the outstanding qualities these 30 luxury 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments have to offer. All apartments are self-catering and are metres from the centre of town.
Russell Cottages - Enjoy a truly luxurious stay at these new modern self-caterin cottages situated in the heart of Russell. 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom cottages available.
Unique to NZ these apartments are like a home away from home. Choose from 40 properties throughout NZ. Need your own full kitchen to self cater? An in room laundry? 1, 2 or 3 bedroom options. Perfect for self drive families, friends and couples.