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Paihia, with its stunning beaches, great restaurants, quaint but busy wharf which offers the gateway to the Bay of Islands with its 144 islands and a raft of activities on offer i...More
Paihia, with its stunning beaches, great restaurants, quaint but busy wharf which offers the gateway to the Bay of Islands with its 144 islands and a raft of activities on offer is an excellent place to base yourself for an amazing stay in Northland. Paihia also has huge cultural significance with Waitangi Treaty Grounds on its doorstep which is New Zealand’s most important historic site, and the quaint township Russell a short boat ride away which was the first permanent European settlement and seaport in New Zealand.
From the wharf, you can arrange a trip to the outer islands, hook into a fishing expedition or catch the ferry to Russell. There are many free things to do too with beautiful walks, beaches and swimming spots and just west of Paihia is Haruru, where you’ll find an impressive waterfall and a boardwalk. Those looking for water-based activities have a huge choice, with fast boats to the Hole in the Rock, fishing, sailing, sea kayaks, paddle boarding, scuba diving and more. Hire a bike heck out the new Waitangi Mountain Bike Park or go on the Twin Coast Cycle Trail. For a bird’s-eye view try parasailing, a scenic helicopter flight or for the more adventurous option you can go skydiving! From the wharf you can arrange a variety of trips out into the Bay. Cruise to the Hole in the Rock, view dolphins, catch a fish, explore the many islands by cruise boat or yacht, get dropped on an island to relax or explore, take a scenic flight by helicopter or plane to Cape Reinga, land on the ‘Hole in the Rock’ and try parasailing where you can enjoy aerial views of Paihia and out over the Bay of Islands.
There are also many walks in the area with a popular walk on boardwalk to Haruru Falls which showcases an impressive waterfall. The historic village of Russell is just across the Bay which was once known from its whaling days as the ‘Hell hole of the Pacific. Today it offers a more relaxed atmosphere with lots of history it also has the oldest licensed pub in New Zealand. The town of Kerkeri is just 20 minutes’ drive away with its many vineyards and known for its horticulture with market days on Saturdays and Sundays where you can buy fresh produce. Nearby is Kerikeri basin with two of New Zealand’s most historical buildings ‘The Stone Store’ and ‘Mission House’.
Best things to do in Paihia.
1. Take a boat trip out into the Bay of Islands
With an incredible 144 Islands filled with stunning beaches, clear water for diving, excellent fishing, dolphins and wildlife. The Bay of Islands is a maritime adventure playground with an abundance of wildlife including penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales, gannets and more. Many of the islands here have walking tracks. A choice of tour operators in the region offer excellent tours and trips around the area leaving from the Paihia Wharf including relaxing day sails, scuba diving, the famous Hole in the Rock and Cream Trips, jet boat rides, fishing trips and kayaking.
2. Waitangi Treaty Grounds
In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Maori and Europeans which marked the beginning of New Zealand as a nation. See where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in the historic Treaty House at Waitangi. Explore the two new contemporary museums, Te Rau Aroha, Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, the carving studio, the Treaty House, Te Whare Rūnanga (Carved Meeting House), traditional Māori waka taua (war canoes) and enjoy a full programme of tours and cultural performances.
3. Waitangi Mountain Bike Park
Waitangi Mountain Bike Park provides the perfect introduction to mountain biking with lots of easy, scenic trails that you can take at your own pace. It offers 30 trails of varying difficulty with great flow and features, from introductory downhill riding, jump trails, cross country and beginner trails. There are plenty of fast, flowing berms, rollers and jumps. Grade 2 and 3 runs are so well built, they’re still fun for more advanced riders. The downhill trails milk the most out of the vertical elevation available providing a lot of fun for a small amount of climbing. You can hire bikes from Paihia Mountain Bikes and also buy shuttle passes to take a shuttle bus ride to the top of the hill to take the downhill tracks.
4. Take a boat ride to Russell
The ferry from Paihia to New Zealand’s first capital, Russell, regularly leaves Paihia Wharf. The relaxing ferry ride there quickly displays some of the small islands making up the Bay of Islands. Once you get to Russell, there are some great places to eat, beautiful beaches for swimming, walks and a great historical tour with Russell Mini Tours that will show you some of NZ’s top historical sites.
5. Twin Coast Cycle Trail
Hire a bike to ride the Twin Coast Cycle Trail (Pou Herenga Tai). This is the stunning Far North cycle trail that covers 87 kms from Opua in the east to Horeke in the Hokianga in the west.You will ride along a disused railway line, alongside a working vintage steam railway, through tunnels and across bridges.The scenery is amazing but this trail is also steeped in Maori and early European history. Following a smooth rail trail, cycle paths, wetland boardwalk, suspension bridges and country roads, it can be broken into smaller day trips. It is both relaxing and highly rewarding, with opportunities to visit various cultural sites and attractions while enjoying the sub-tropical climate for which the ‘winterless’ north is famous.
6. Take to the skys
There are a few places in New Zealand where scenic flights are must-do and this is one of them. Flying over the Bay of Islands is spectacular. There are helicopter flights, you can try fun and exciting Parasailing and also parachuting out of the Kerikeri airport nearby.
7. Go Scuba Diving or Snorkelling
The Bay of Islands has beautiful clear waters, several wrecks in the area and a marine reserve. You can take dive trips To The Rainbow Warrior which was originally Greenpeace’s flagship sunk by French saboteurs on July 10, 1985, and the former Navy Frigate HMNZS Canterbury F421 which now rests in Deep Water Cove near Cape Brett. Upright and intact, she makes for an impressive sight. This is a great dive location year-round. The Bay of Islands is also home to beautiful reefs and protected marine reserves. There is a large diversity of marine life in the Bay of Islands all year round. Paihia’s Reef Diving is stunning any time of year. Some of the yacht charters offer snorkelling as part of their day out too!
8. Go Kayaking
Sea kayaking trips in the stunning Bay of Islands, New Zealand’s marine paradise! Explore the islands, see marine life up close, stay close to Paihia and paddle under a waterfall or take to the Bay of Islands enjoy a camping adventure. Some of the best sea kayaking to be had in New Zealand, enjoy magnificent scenery and white sand beaches. Paihia is in a very sheltered position and is a perfect place to go kayaking all year round.