Site Information

 Loading... Please wait...

You Recently Viewed...

Port Review: Bay Of Islands, New Zealand

Joanna Hall

The Bay of Islands is one of the most famous holiday destinations in New Zealand, and for the locals it’s one of their favourite getaways. And this is for a lineup of great reasons.

The Facts 

Language: English

Currency: New Zealand dollar

Docking/anchoring: Ships anchor in the Bay of Islands and usually it’s a 15-20 minute tender ride to the Waitangi Pier 

Transport: There are very few taxis but some cruise ships run a shuttle into the nearby town of Paihia

Itineraries: South Pacific & New Zealand


The Bay of Islands is located right on the north eastern tip of New Zealand. Essentially, it’s a 16 kilometre wide inlet and natural harbour which makes it an ideal place for cruise travel. Some of its most attractive features include clear blue water, pretty islands and rock formations which combine to create a dramatic and pleasing landscape.

Don’t Miss 

The Waitangi Reserve is one of New Zealand’s most important sites as this is where Chief Hone Heke Pokai led other Maori chiefs to sign treaties with British authorities in 1840. The historic agreement was signed at the small white Treaty House which is now a national symbol.

A short walk from Waitangi Pier towards the town of Paihia is the Shipwreck Museum aboard the vessel, Tui, which is a beached hull near the bridge that connects Waitangi to Paihia.

Best Photo Op

You can get a sweeping view of the Bay of Islands from Flagstaff Hill which is just north of the main town of Russell. It’s a 30 minute walk from Russell on a well marked track.


The Bay of Islands is not a shopping destination but there are a handful of decent local stores in both Paihia and Russell selling surf gear, fashion, and a few souvenir and local craft shops.

Food And Drink

Marsden Road which runs along the waterfront has the highest concentration of restaurants and cafes in Paihia although there are some good local joints which run off the side streets in the town. Over in Russell, it’s much the same with the the Strand on the waterfront featuring half a dozen eateries.

Pick Of The Excursions

A catamaran tour of the Bay is the best way to take in all the natural attractions of the area as well learn a little about the rich history of the islands.  The tour retraces the steps of the old “Cream Trip” which was established in 1886 as a ship service that delivered coal to the islands, and picked up cream in return to transport back to the mainland. The tour usually cruises past  Waitangi, the town of Russell, Marsden Cross and The Black Rocks along with the islands of Motuarhoia, Motorua, Waewaetorea, Deep Water Cove and the Cape Brett Lighthouse. And dolphins are often spotted in the waters as well.

Kayaking is a popular tour option in the Bay of Islands and some offer a paddle through the Waitangi Estuary where you can see the ancient mangroves and small fish and then onto the spectacular Haruru Falls at the edge of the Waitangi Forest.


Send Me More Info - I'm Okay To Be Contacted Directly By a 3rd Party

   Full Name
Email Address


Write Review

This article hasn't received any reviews yet. Be the first to review this article!

  1. Posted by on 3rd Jun 2019 Verified Customer

    Nice Place 4 Star Review

    We stopped here on a cruise and had half a day....the weather was pretty bad but you can see it's a nice place with plenty to see if the sun's out!

  2. Posted by on 3rd Jun 2019 Verified Customer

    Love This Place 5 Star Review

    We've been here both on cruise holidays and as a separate touring holiday of NZ, and loved it both times. Once we had bad weather, the other times it was chilly but dry and sunny. I agree that the best thing to do is not bother with the town as such as instead get out on the water to explore, it's fascinating and packed with marine and wildlife, also those rock formations. Highly recommend it, especially to photograph at sunset on a good day :)

Other users also viewed