6 Ways to Keep Your Kids Happy in the Bay Of Islands

The Bay Of Islands is a natural playground for all ages. As all our children were born and bred here, we thought we' d share our favorite things to do.

1. Go to Russell and Eat Fish 'n Chips (with Icecream for Dessert)

Russell is a beautiful township, steeped in history at every turn. The ferry over is great fun for the kids, then you can take in some of the sights with the promise of ice cream after. Take them to see the beautiful stone church – Christ Church or Te Whare Karakia o Kororareka – which is complete with musket holes from the more exhilarating days when Russell was a whaling port with the reputation of being the “Hellhole of the Pacific”! Or maybe go for a wander round the Russell Museum where they can see the original whaling boats amongst many other treasures. If you’re feeling keen, or have more time to burn, you can walk them up to Flagstaff Hill for the amazing panoramic views over the Bay or head over to Long Beach for some sand and surf. Then it’s kai time. You can pick between many pretty waterfront cafes or head to the Duke Of Marlborough Hotel, a beautiful old inn with it’s great stories of times gone by.

2. Hangout at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

When you arrive at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds with littlies in tow, the friendly staff will immediately give you a treasure hunt/educational info sheet for them so that they are entertained & exploring the whole time you are there. You can easily spend half a day investigating the Treaty House itself, the beautifully carved meeting house Te Whare Runanga the carvings of the waka house and the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe “Ngatokimatawhaorua” housed in it. Plus, there is the newly opened, fully interactive Museum of Waitangi. And this is without even mentioning the beautiful grounds with gardens blooming all year round, the view of the whole Bay from the Flagstaff and the hangi and Maori cultural performance on certain days. At the end of your visit, the staff will take your kids’ treasure hunt sheets and give them a treat in exchange!

3. Fly Like a Bird and See The Bay From the Air

A very kid-friendly activity is to go parasailing with Flying Kiwi Parasail, NZ’s Highest parasail at 1200ft of towline. The views are absolutely breathtaking. With 10-12 minutes of flight time to enjoy the sights or maybe even engage in some acrobatics like hanging upside down in your harness! FKP has 20 years experience winching fliers out from the back deck of the purpose-built boat and then winching them back in so there is no need even to get wet, unless you actually want to dangle your feet in the water on the way back down...or more! Double and triple harnesses are available so all the family can have a go, and with FKP’s 100% safety record, you can just sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.

4. Catch Some Air and Do Some Mean Skids at the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park

Opened at the end of 2016, Waitangi Mountain Bike Park is a world class mountain bike park with specific kids trails where they can be challenged by park features made just for their size! Plenty of the other easy/intermediate grade trails are suitable for kids too. The sights and sounds of being in the forest for half a day are hard to beat. Over 20km of trails have been completed and a further 50km are to be developed over the next few years. Our kids especially love getting muddy and us parents love the exercise they are getting and the fun they are having! Take plenty of water and some snacks. Having a picnic break and chat half way round is all part of the experience. Lots of parking and toilets at the trail hub make things super easy for families too.

5. Catch Some Sprats, Catch Your Dinner or Catch The Big One

Fishing in any way possible is a way of life for Kiwi kids, the excitement of having a fish hop on the end of the line makes up for the patience needed to achieve that result! Fishing off the wharf either at Paihia of Russell can provide a great few hours of fun and you don’t even need all the gear as you can hire rods from the convenience store in Russell or Paihia Dive in Paihia. If you’re looking for more dinner-sized fish there are many half-day fishing options, like Blue Sea Charters, and they’ll fillet your catch ready for you to take back to your accommodation or to a local chippie to cook. If you want to really treat your kids take them game fishing. Saltshaker charters are very kid-friendly having taught their own children to fish and with some world-record sized game fish trophies to their names!

6. Get Out On the Water To See the Islands and Maybe Even Some Dolphins

The choice here is endless – you can hire a kayak or paddleboard straight off the beach from Bay Beach Hire or take a guided tour up to the waterfalls with Coastal Kayakers. Sail the day away on the beautiful maxiyacht Gungha II – with a lunch stop on one of the islands plus snorkelling included, sailing is a great value family day out. The crew even make your lunch fresh on the boat for you, which is a welcome break for Mum and Dad! Take one of the Explore NZ or Fullers Bay of Islands “Hole in The Rock” or dolphin swimming trips and relax while you take in all the beautiful scenery and wildlife the Bay has to offer. These cruises run half day or full day options with something to suit everyone.

Have you got a great story to tell? Add your own article