Bay of Islands, New Zealand

The Bay of Islands, or the Bay of Islands, is a subtropical microregion in northern New Zealand. This is a real paradise for yachtsmen, divers, beach lovers and active water recreation just half an hour from Auckland. It got its name because of the 144 small islands scattered between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula. The resort also includes the towns of Opua, Peihia, Kerikeri and Russell, famous for the fact that James Cook is considered the first European to set foot on its land. The Bay of Islands managed to preserve its originality, and today people come here, among other things, to get acquainted with the culture of the natives – the Maori people. See CITYPOPULATIONREVIEW for weather information.

How to get to the Bay of Islands

In the towns of the Bay of Islands there are several helipads, a small airstrip in Kerikeri. Large liners land only in Auckland. Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand fly here from Moscow, 28 hours on the way, changing in Singapore. Tourist shuttles and regular buses run from Auckland Airport to the Bay of Islands (240 km) (you will need to change in Auckland itself). Travel time is 6-7 hours.

A more convenient option is to fly to Auckland and take a plane to Kerikeri. Every day Air New Zealand operates 3 flights there, the flight time is 50 minutes. The airport is located in the southwestern suburbs, and you can get to your destination from there by shuttle or taxi. A shuttle ride to Paihia costs 13-28 NZD, a taxi costs 79-100 NZD. You can buy a ticket at carrier’s website (in English).


Between the towns of the resort they move either by buses – regular or chartered, or by taxi. You can rent a car, for example, at Kerikeri Airport. But the vast majority of tourists buy package tours, the cost of which includes accommodation, entertainment and transfers. Parking in the towns is free, cars are parked along the streets and in large parking lots.

A taxi ride between neighboring cities costs 65-80 NZD, cars must be called in advance or taken at special parking lots.

Passenger-and-freight ferries run between the major islands. There are many bike rentals.

Bay of Islands Hotels

Despite the fact that the Bay of Islands looks like a paradise, rest here is affordable even for a mere mortal. Of course, when choosing budget options, you need to be prepared that you will have to live at a relative distance from the beaches. However, lodges for 85-131 NZD for two are popular with active tourists who only need a roof over their heads from housing. A place in the campsite will cost about the same price (the use of a barbecue, toilet and shower are included).

The most expensive options are rooms and bungalows with sea views in coastal hotel complexes in Russell. A night in a stunning hotel will cost 3,000 NZD for two with breakfast.

Well, most tourists choose not so luxurious, but very good in terms of price-quality ratio, 3-4 * hotels for 150-325 NZD within the city.


The Bay of Islands and its surrounding areas are home to some of New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches. All of them are sandy, with a wall of virgin forest and clear azure water. There are only three beach clusters directly in the bay itself – in Peihia, Oneroa and Oka. All of them are without sunbeds and umbrellas, but due to the proximity to the urban infrastructure, you do not notice these shortcomings. But on many beaches you can rent a boat or diving equipment.

The beaches of the city of Paihia are perhaps the most popular in the resort. This is a great place for swimming, sunbathing and picnics just around the corner from numerous cafes, shops and hotels. It is suitable for lovers of swimming, fishing and families with children – there is a large playground.

In the southern part of the city, Sullivan Beach seems to be hidden (GPS coordinates: −35.288128, 174.099719). This is a very quiet place for romantics, you can get here only on foot, bypassing the rocks.

Located in Russell Oneroa, or Long Beach, this beach is a favorite with both locals and tourists (Russell, Long Beach Road 32). Its long (about 1 km) golden strip is located in the eastern part of the town. Oneroa is just a 20-minute walk from the pier where ferries from Paihia arrive. The entry into the sea here is very shallow, so a significant part of the visitors are families with small children. After water procedures, you can sunbathe on the velvet sand (there are no sunbeds) and admire the nearest islands of Motuarohia and Motukauri.

Another top beach, Oke, is located 29 km from Russell, on Cape Brett (Rowity, Rowity Road, 147). It is especially beautiful at low tide and ideal for swimming and dolphin watching. Oke is a great place for a romantic sunset stroll.

Cuisine and restaurants of the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands food has completely different formats. At expensive hotels, excellent restaurants with terraces and sea views are open. Of course, you will have to spend money there – not the most satisfying, but very beautiful dinner with a steak and New Zealand or Australian wine will cost 200-220 NZD. In the towns, coffee houses and simple cafes are common, which serve mostly freshly prepared fish. There, dinner costs about 100 NZD per person. Local fast food is also based on seafood. A typical dish is deep-fried smelt fish with potatoes. You take such a bag, a bottle of cold beer – and go to the beach!

Things to do

As already mentioned, almost all tourists here are package tourists. Vouchers can also be bought on the spot, for example, in Kerikeri. Everyone includes everything they want in the voucher: excursions to the islands, diving courses, participation in Maori rituals, helicopter rides, fishing, off-road trips.

Among the must-see places: a rock with a cave on Percy Island near Cape Brett. It is especially impressive when the boat accelerates and rushes through the natural grotto at maximum speed. Often a ship with tourists is accompanied by dolphins – there are a lot of them here.

Another “must-see” that will help you delve deeper into the culture of New Zealand is Waitangi. It was here that an agreement was concluded between Great Britain and the Maori tribes, which actually laid the foundation for the statehood of New Zealand. During the tour, guests are introduced to the history of the Bay of Islands Aboriginals and invited to participate in some of the rituals.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

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