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Bay of Islands Tour

The Bay of Islands is a subtropical micro-region known for its stunning beauty and history. For those that love beaches and water activities, it’s paradise, so ensure you have a Bay of Islands Tour as part of your New Zealand holiday!

A three-hour drive or 35 minute flight from Auckland, the Bay of Islands encompasses 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula. In addition, this region includes the boutique towns of Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri.

A choice of Bay of Islands tour operators in the region offer excellent trips by sea to spectacular Cape Brett and the ‘Hole in the Rock’ on Piercy Island. A passenger ferry service runs between Paihia and Russell, while a vehicle ferry provides a link between Opua and Russell. On land, enjoy beautiful river and seaside walking tracks or encounter the mighty Kauri Tree in pristine subtropical rainforest.

Best things to do during your Bay of Islands tour

#1 Bay of Islands Boat Tour

explore new zealand Bay of Islands tour
Discover the Bay Cruise

The Bay of Islands encompasses 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula. One of the best Bay of Island Boat Tours, is through Explore NZ on their Discover the Bay Cruise. This Bay of Islands Boat Tour includes a visit to the famous ‘Hole in the Rock.’

If conditions are right, your boat will travel through it! Other highlights include wildlife spotting including dolphins and whales, and an island stop-over where you can paddle board, kayak or swim plus enjoy a delicious lunch!

If Swimming with Dolphins is on your bucket list, your tour should definitely include a Dolphin Discovery Cruise. Cruise around the many islands and spot pods of dolphins. After that, jump in the water to experience a once-in-a-lifetime dolphin swimming experience.

#2 Waitangi Treaty Grounds

maori village rotorua Bay of Islands tour
Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Waitangi Treaty Grounds is New Zealand’s most important historic site. Here, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and the indigenous Maori in February 1840. Set on a stunning site overlooking the Bay of Islands, Waitangi is an absolute must-see for all visitors. Attractions include the historic Treaty House, a giant flagstaff, a unique fully carved Maori meeting house and the the world’s largest single-hulled canoe (waka). Guided tours and cultural performances run at regular intervals throughout the day. Open daily except Christmas.

#3 Pompallier Mission and Printery

Pompallier Mission and Printery

Pompallier Mission, is where Catholic missionaries translated religious texts into Maori, printed and bound them into beautiful books, and was a saintly enclave in the most sinful site of the southern seas. In what is undoubtedly one of the best heritage tours in the country, passionate guides will take you through the steps of leather and book-making as it was done by courageous pioneers living in this tiny outpost, over 150 years ago. Hear the stories of the lives and times of French missionaries caught up in British Treaty-making and war between Maori and European settlers. Delight in award winning heritage gardens, take in the wonderful views across the Bay and browse the neat gift shop.

#4 Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri

Rainbow Falls Kerikeri Bay of Islands tour
Rainbow Falls Kerikeri

A spectacular 27-metre waterfall, Rainbow Falls is located in Kerikeri a must see during your tour. Easy access and an enjoyable walk (5 to 10 minutes) make this waterfall one of New Zealand’s must-see waterfalls.

There are three viewpoints, two upper lookouts and one lower lookout. If it’s rainy or you don’t want to walk, then you can enjoy the waterfall from the upper lookout. This is roughly a 1-minute walk from the carpark.

#5 The Parrot Place, Kerikeri

The Parrot Place Kerikeri

Wander through the glorious subtropical gardens and enjoy the entertaining antics and colourful plumage of a huge variety of native and exotic parrots from around the world. Enjoy getting up close and personal with the pet birds in their natural environment and get your photo taken with them and Elmo the dancing Macaw. Let the kids burn off some energy in the play area whilst you sit back and relax with refreshments and ice creams. A different and entertaining experience to add to your tour!

#6 Urupukapuka Island Tour

explore new zealand Bay of Islands tour
Discover the Bay Cruise

If you were asked to sum up Urupukapuka Island in only one word, it would have to be – quite simply – “Wow”! You can  travel to the island by ferry, which leaves Paihia and Russell at regular intervals every day.

As the largest of all the 140 beautiful islands in the Bay, Urupukapuka offers a fantastic range of things to do in the island recreation reserve.  Urupukapuka is abundant with world class beaches, where you can walk, eat a picnic, relax, swim, snorkel and dive. You can hire a paddle board or kayak and explore the bays, or even book a half-day scuba diving trip.

On land activities include full day Māori experiences including the chance to try delicious traditional Māori food. The Island Conservation Centre and fantastic walking tracks, ranging from 1 hour strolls to 5 hour hikes. You will even find a fully licensed family friendly café in Otehei Bay, where you can enjoy great food and beverages.

#7 The Stone Store & Kemp House – Kerikeri Mission Station

The Stone Store

Established in 1819, the Kerikeri Mission Station is one of New Zealand’s first places where Maori invited visitors to to live among them. Built under the protection of local Maori chiefs who were keen to harness the trade and technology of Europe, Kerikeri Mission Station grew amidst a backdrop of tribal warfare and ever increasing visits from foreign ships. Located only 5 minutes from Kerikeri the Kerikeri Mission Station has a range of activites available. The grounds tour is a visitor favourite. Experienced guides share stories of fierce warriors and drunken sailors and earnest missionaries who preached, taught and battled to spread the Christian message amongst Maori, a proud people with their own ancient traditions. The Kerikeri Mission Station is also the site of two of the country’s oldest surviving buildings- The Stone Store and Kemp House.

Book a New Zealand Holiday Package with a Bay of Islands Tour

Many of our North Island holiday packages include a stay in the Bay of Islands. For example, you could choose from the following packages:

Many of our other holiday packages also include a visit to the Bay of Islands. Explore our New Zealand holiday packages and our family holiday packages for further inspiration.

Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to begin planning your Bay of Islands tour.


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