Bay of Islands, New Zealand – My Heaven on Earth
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I first visited the Bay of Islands by boat during the summer holidays. I remember my first impression coming past Urupukapuka Island. I was in awe, stunned by the beauty. And I would have only been about 12 years old. This encounter with the beautiful Bay of Islands stole my heart, I think I must have known some day this would be my home.
Otehei Bay, Urupukapuka Island
Beautiful Paihia and the Bay of Islands are located about 3 hours north of Auckland. If you are visiting New Zealand for a short weekend away, I totally recommend skipping the city for a place like Bay of Islands in the summertime.
Paihia, Bay of Islands
What is it about Paihia? It is peaceful, it has a tranquil feeling. In the mornings, you look across the calm bay and see beauty. Sometimes the dolphins come into the harbour to say hello. You can walk around the town in five minutes. There is absolutely nothing for shopaholics. There is no madness, free parking, no traffic jams (unless on peak days of the year or sometimes if a cruise ship is visiting)… It is not chaotic. It is bliss.
Te Ti Beach, Paihia
Across the bay from Paihia is Russell. An old whaling town. It is another work of art. There is a cheap, small local ferry that goes across a few times per day. The bay side is stony, with a steep drop off, many boats are moored just off the shore. There are a few shops and a wharf that the kids are either fishing off or jumping off. There are a few small cafes and restaurants along the waterfront, I’ve been lucky enough to have breakfast at one of these, sitting outside, watching the dolphins frolic amongst the yachts.
In a short walk up and over a hill (you might have to ask the locals directions), you will find Long Beach. This side of Russell looks straight out to the islands. Again, you will quite possibly see dolphins or maybe even whales. The water is brilliantly clear.
Long Beach, Russell
This place is special. If you need peace, serenity and tranquility, this is the place for you.
- The Treaty Grounds, Waitangi – The New Zealand Treaty of Waitangi was signed here… It has a really special feel to it, and some fabulous views. If you are lucky enough to be in town on 6th of February, this is the place to be. It is something else. It becomes a full on carnival/fair. Free rides and activities for the kids and more food than you can eat!
- Walks. There are many of them. One that I did regularly was the track at the end of School Road. There aren’t many roads, so you should be able to find this ok.
- Sit on the beach and read a book. You have a few options.
- Take the kids to the playground. Which happens to be next to the beach. So when they finish playing, you can have a swim.
Not Free Stuff
- My number 1 have to do if you get the chance, is go sailing. We were fortunate enough to go on the Lion NZ racing yacht with Explore NZ. As at February 2015, I’m not completely certain it still runs from Paihia. But you must get on a boat, and see the islands. You won’t regret it.
Onboard Lion NZ sailing, Bay of Islands
Lion NZ, Urupukapuka Island, Bay of Islands
- Urupukapuka Island/Otehei Bay trip with Explore NZ. This trip is well priced, and you can walk up the top of a beautiful hill for endless spectacular views. There is a small restaurant/cafe and BBQ on the island. And you can also camp there. These cruises also go through the hole in the Rock.
Cruising on Explore NZ dolphin watching boat, Bay of Islands
- Mack Attack – go through the hole in the Rock
View from the Mack Attach, Bay of Islands
The Hole in the Rock, Bay of Islands, New Zealand – The Wiringi’s Family Travel Blog
- The Flying Kiwi Parasail. Ok, I admit, I didn’t get to do this one. I was a single parent with no spare cash to try this out, but next time I make it back, it’s on my will do it list.
- Kayaking, see Dan the Kayak man at Marsden Road
- Whale or dolphin watching
Dolphin watching, Bay of Islands
Dolphin watching, Bay of Islands
- Swim with dolphins
- Visit Russell
Russsell, Bay of Islands