The Bay of Islands offers more than broad vistas of sea and sky, more than beaches, boating, and fabulous water sports. The Bay is the birthplace of modern New Zealand. Here the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, establishing British rule and granting the native inhabitants equal status. Rich in legend and mystery, the Bay of Islands has age-old ties to the Maori and to whalers, missionaries and New Zealand's early settlers.
The Bay of Islands has lured explorers for countless centuries. The Maori say that Kupe, the great Polynesian adventurer, came here in the 10th century. Captain Cook anchored offshore in 1769, followed by assorted brigands, traders, colonists and missionaries.
Note: Bay of Islands is an anchorage port. Passengers transfer to shore via ship's tender.
More about Bay of Islands, New Zealand Points of Interest
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
It was here in 1840 that the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed between Maori and the British Crown. This historic site offers a commanding view of history and the Bay of Islands.
Harbour, Islands & Hole in the Rock
Motu Kōkako, also known as Piercy Island or "The Hole In The Rock", is located off the north coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is at the very northern tip of Rakaumangamanga (Cape Brett) in the Bay of Islands. The 60-foot (18 m) hole at sea level was created over centuries by wind and waves making it one of the most naturally beautiful sites in New Zealand. Being a popular tourist destination there are a multitude of tours offered and if the waters are calm and the tide is right the jet boats will go right through the hole.
Kerikeri & Surrounds
Today Kerikeri is a major citrus fruit center and tourist destination. The town also boasts the historic Mission house (1819), Stone Store (1833), and is noted for its thriving art and craft scene.
Russell, known as Kororareka[a] in the early 19th century, was the first permanent European settlement and seaport in New Zealand. It is situated in the Bay of Islands, in the far north of the North Island. New Zealand census recorded a resident population of 720, Much of the accommodation in the area consists of holiday homes or tourist accommodation.
Learn about the history, traditions and contemporary lives of the indigenous Maori people who inhabit the Bay of Islands. Experiences include Marae life and travelling by waka canoe which are brought to life by descendants of the original families.
The family owned Kawiti Cave tours were first established in the 1950's by Te Tawai Kawiti, Great grandson of the famous Maori Chief, Kawiti. The limestone cave system is home to thousands of glow worms spread across the ceiling surrounded by breath taking stalactites and stalagmites.
Paihia and Surrounds
Paihia is the main tourist town in the Bay of Islands in the far north of the North Island of New Zealand. It is 60 kilometres north of Whangarei, located close to the historic towns of Russell and Kerikeri. Missionary Henry Williams named the mission station Marsden's Vale and eventually the Paihia became the accepted name of the settlement. Nearby to the north is the historic settlement of Waitangi, and the residential and commercial area of Haruru Falls is to the west. The port and township of Opua, and the small settlement of Te Haumi, lie to the south. The population of Paihia is 1719
Haruru Falls is a small but wide waterfall. It's where the Waitangi River is at its strongest, feeding into a significant lagoon that ebbs its way out to the Bay of Islands beside Te Tii Marae and the Waitangi Treaty grounds. A small town with accommodation options is built around it. The falls are about 5km from the town of Paihia, and worth a trip to see. You can take a car and walk two minutes down a track to the Falls, passing a rope-swing installed bravely on a tree hanging off the cliff into the lagoon below.
Special Child Pricing Available! Children age 12 and younger, savings up to 50%.
Waitangi Walking Tour
2 hours | Bay of Islands | BI1-380
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Walk in the footsteps of Maori chiefs and English settlers with a tour of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the birthplace of New Zealand. Discover what impact the treaty made on Maori history and culture as you view the world's largest war canoe, visit the Maori Meeting House and Treaty House.
Step aboard your vessel from Waitangi to Russell and embark on a guided walking tour of Russell, New Zealand's first permanent British settlement and its first capital. Then, discover how French missionaries translated religious texts into Maori with a visit to Pompallier Mission Printery. After a tasty scone and tea, enjoy sightseeing on your own.
Get your senses ready for a galaxy of glow-worm lights, impressive limestone walls and magnificent stalactites and stalagmites at Kawiti Glow-worm Caves. Unique to New Zealand, the srachnocompa luminosa glow worm radiates a fluorescent blue-green glow that illuminates the caves leaving on-lookers spellbound.
Wear your swimsuit under your clothes, bring a towel and grab the sunscreen for an exciting boat ride around to the wilder, seaward side of the outer islands. Here, you'll explore deep caves, view majestic island cliffs and stop off at one of the bay's best islands for a swim.
Relive the Maori and colonial history with an excursion to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the treaty was signed in 1840. Then, visit Kemp House and witness its period furniture and personal items owned by the missionary families who lived here. Later, enjoy a cup o' tea at a local venue.
Experience New Zealand's history from a Maori perspective with visits to Kerikeri, home to New Zealand's oldest standing European buildings and a Maori Meetinghouse where you'll be immersed in Maori traditions. Then, take a stroll through Puketi State Forest, which has provided spiritual support to the Maori for centuries.
Reacquaint yourself with the timeless power of nature with a journey that begins with a trek into the Kawiti Caves, home to thousands of glittering glow worms. Then, witness massive and magnificent kauri trees with a stroll through the Puketi Forest.
Explore the peaceful waters of Bay of Islands on a fun-filled motorboat cruise. Sit back and relax with a New Zealand-inspired lunch while gliding past historic sites such as Okiato, also known as Old Russell, the country's first capital. A docking in Russell allows you one hour for independent sightseeing.
Paddle your sea kayak through a mystical mangrove forest and linger at the base of Haruru Falls! The sheltered waters of the Bay of Islands and the Waitangi Estuary with all its wondrous wildlife is a nature lovers dream and this active, half-day excursion includes refreshments at historic Waitangi Beach.
Escape to the cool refuge of Haruru Falls on a paddle board. A boat will take you to the ideal spot where you'll disembark and transfer to your paddleboard. Glide silently through the mangroves to the horseshoe-shaped falls and keep an eye out for the local fauna.
Embark on a journey of discovery with a ride aboard a replica of a traditional Maori waka. Feel and sense the spirituality as you paddle your way up the peaceful and tranquil waters of the Waitangi. Learn Maori songs and chants, view local wildlife and hear stories of Maori culture.
Keep an eye out for New Zealand's unique plants and noisy birdlife on a guided trek through the Puketi Forest, a subtropical rain forest alive with rich flora and , and colonial and Maori history. Once off the trail, you can relax with a refreshing cup of tea.
Learn the history of whaling and peek into the life of a 19th century whaler with a tour of the the Butler Point Whaling Museum and homestead. During your visit, enjoy a cup of tea while taking a peaceful stroll through the magnificent gardens, first developed in the 1840s.
Soar into the wild blue yonder and make your vacation unforgettable with a parasailing adventure over the glorious Bay of Islands! Suitable for the entire family, you'll climb aboard a 31-foot purpose-built parasail boat with the latest in parasailing technology and can fly solo or tandem.
Set sail around the Bay's inner islands on a catamaran. View the famous Hole in the Rock, Cathedral Cave and Cape Brett Lighthouse. Observe many of the Bay's 144 islands from close quarters and look out for the plentiful bird and marine life including playful dolphins and little blue penguins.
Local Connections: Papatuanuku Earth Mother with Wahine Guide
3.5 hours | Bay of Islands | BI1-985
Discover the way of the Maori during an exclusive cultural guided tour. Join in a traditional prayer, hear the creation stories and legends that date back 1,200 years, stroll through an amazing native kauri forest and pay homage to a 600-year-old tree. Then, reflect on your adventure at picturesque Haruru Falls.
Meander through Northland's bucolic countryside on a leisurely guided bike ride. But the ride is half the fun! When pedaling along the Pou Herenga Tai Trail, you'll pass historic sites, hot springs, the North's largest natural lake, and a 260-foot-long rail tunnel.
Go fish! Join a knowledgeable skipper and crew for a half-day fishing trip. You will be targeting Snapper, a species that is particularly favoured by New Zealanders, with any number of other fish species a possibility on the day. All gear, including bait and tackle, is supplied. Small groups of up to eight allows everyone an opportunity for the best individual fishing experience possible.
Glow Worm Cave & Puketi Kauri Forest for Small Groups
5 hours | Bay of Islands | BI1-999
Paihia and Surrounds
Designed for small groups, this half-day tour begins with a trek into the Kawiti Caves, home to thousands of glittering glow worms, and delicate stalactite and stalagmite formations. Then, witness massive and magnificent kauri trees with a stroll through the Puketi Forest.
Local Connections: The Delicious Gems of the North
3.5 hours | Bay of Islands | BI1-980
Kerikeri & Surrounds
Paihia and Surrounds
Designed by Princess Cruises and inspired by a local expert, embark on a day of delights interacting with locals and sampling some of the finest regional delicacies and produce. Peruse a lively Farmer's Market, indulge in sweets from the Makana Chocolate factory, and sip the finest Limoncello in New Zealand.
Local Connections: Waitangi Cultural Experience - Where It All Began
7 hours | Bay of Islands | BI1-115
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Experience New Zealand life, history and culture from a Maori perspective. Stroll the grounds of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, witness Maori arts and crafts, hear legendary myths, and enjoy an authentic hangi lunch. Then, paddle out in a 50-foot Maori canoe and glide down the Waitangi River to Haruru Falls.