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Bay of Islands Complete Guide

In our ‘Complete Guide’ series, we’re going to be visiting some of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations and getting the inside track from our GO Explore followers on the best places to stay, eat, drink, sunbathe and more. Instead of just finding out what the guidebooks tell you, find out what the locals and the travellers think when it comes to the best place to get an ice cream, the best fish and chips and the best cocktail you’ll ever taste!

The next in our series of Complete Guides takes us to the Bay of Islands on the North Island, just a short three and a half hour drive from Auckland and home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, beautiful views and the rare occurrence of two oceans colliding. If you’re planning a trip to the far north, you’re in for an absolute treat. Let’s get GOing!

  • Paihia

    Paihia

    Without doubt the most popular place to stay up in the Bay of Islands is the seafront town of Paihia. This place has a bit of something for everyone from backpacker accommodation to luxury five star hotels. Paihia is the hub of most of the activit

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    Without doubt the most popular place to stay up in the Bay of Islands is the seafront town of Paihia. This place has a bit of something for everyone from backpacker accommodation to luxury five star hotels. Paihia is the hub of most of the activities in the Bay of Islands from the cruises out to explore the islands and the famous hole in the rock to scenic helicopter flights to relaxing on the beach. It’s also home to some great restaurants and places to grab a drink making it the ideal place to base yourself for exploring the Bay of Islands.

  • Russell

    Russell

    If you are looking for something a bit more relaxed and not quite as tourist-laden, Russell is also a great option. Situated right across the bay from Paihia, Russell is steeped in history and has a very laid back feel. There is a regular ferry se

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    If you are looking for something a bit more relaxed and not quite as tourist-laden, Russell is also a great option. Situated right across the bay from Paihia, Russell is steeped in history and has a very laid back feel. There is a regular ferry service across from Paihia so Russell still gets a high volume of tourist traffic but it always feels a bit more sleepy. The accommodation option in Russell are very different and you will be looking more at holiday homes and boutique B&Bs rather than hotels and motels.

  • Taipa Beach

    Taipa Beach

    If you want to get a bit further off the tourist trail and go for somewhere a bit more secluded, then Taipa Beach close to Coppers Beach and Cable Bay is a great option. With views looking straight out into Doubtless Bay, this sleepy village is de

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    If you want to get a bit further off the tourist trail and go for somewhere a bit more secluded, then Taipa Beach close to Coppers Beach and Cable Bay is a great option. With views looking straight out into Doubtless Bay, this sleepy village is definitely off the beaten track although there are still some good accommodation options. This is also quite a good place to base yourself if you are planning a trip up to the northern most tip of the North Island at Cape Reinga as it can be a long drive from Paihia or Russell.

Worthy of an honourable mention is Kerikeri which is definitely a town to add to your list of places to visit on your trip to Northland. Kerikeri is home to New Zealand’s oldest Stone Building as well as some great walks and waterfalls. There is no shortage of accommodation options and it is a little quieter than the busy towns of Paihia and Russell.

Best accommodation in the Bay of Islands

Obviously there are a lot of places to choose from when you are picking your accommodation for the Bay of Islands – whilst most people will choose to head to Paihia and Russell, we asked our GO Explorers for their top tips and this is what they came back with:

Best places to eat out in the Bay of Islands

There are hidden gems all across the Bay of Islands which is why it’s a good job we have our GO Explorers to help you to pick out some of the best. Here are some of top restaurants, takeaways and cafes in the Bay of Islands – let us know what you think.

Best beaches in the Bay of Islands and Northland

As you would imagine, the Bay of Islands and Northland region is not short on amazing beaches. Whether you are looking to kick back and relax with a good book or you are looking for a great walk, one of these amazing beaches should tick your boxes. Take a peek at the top five beaches in Northland:

Most people heading to the Bay of Islands come up here because of the huge range of activities you can get stuck in to. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover or you just enjoy looking at some amazing views, the Bay of Islands has it all. With so many activities to choose from, planning your trip to the Bay of Islands can be tricky which is why we have pulled together this list of our top nine activities to try when you’re up in the Bay of Islands:

Trip Planner

  • 5
    Days

    Auckland to Bay of Islands Round Trip – 5 days

    Driving Tour

    So great news – you’ve got a 5 day trip planned to the Bay of Islands and you’re setting off from Auckland. Although there’s heaps of stuff to do once you get up there, make sure you take the time on your drive north to stop off at some of th

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  • 3
    Days

    Auckland to Bay of Islands Round Trip – 3 days

    Driving Tour

    So, you’ve booked yourself a long weekend in the Bay of Islands and you’re setting off from Auckland. Although there’s heaps of stuff to do once you get up there, make sure you take the time on your drive north to stop off at some of the little

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  • 21
    Days

    Auckland to Auckland – North Island Round Trip – 21 days

    Driving Tour

    So great news – you’ve got a 3 week trip planned around the North Island of New Zealand and you’re setting off from Auckland. The first place to visit will be the Bay of Islands and although there’s heaps of stuff to do once you get up there,

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