One of New Zealand’s most idyllic destinations, the Bay of Islands comprises 144 islands that boast sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and abundant marine life, plus historical significance. Here are a few ways to experience it all from Auckland.
You can take a guided Bay of Islands day tour from Auckland that combines a boat cruise with visits to historical sites like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the Treaty House, and a traditional Maori meeting house. Boat cruises offer the chance to look for penguins, whales, dolphins, seals, and other marine critters. Around Cape Brett, take in dramatic scenery such as the Hole in the Rock at Motukokako Island, Grand Cathedral Cave, and the Cape Brett Lighthouse.
Choose a multi-day tour to explore the Bay of Islands more thoroughly. You can travel to New Zealand’s northernmost point, Cape Reinga; visit nearby Ninety Mile Beach; cruise around the islands; and go snorkeling or hiking. For the ultimate North Island journey, take a five-day tour that includes top attractions such as Whangarei Falls, Waipoua Forest, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, and Paihia.
Things to Know
From Auckland, the journey to the Bay of Islands takes about three hours by road. Paihia is set about 142 miles (228 kilometers) north of Auckland.
Full-day tours typically include admission fees and last 10 to 12 hours, so prepare for a long day.
Known as “the winterless north,” the region boasts a semitropical climate that allows for year-round outdoor activity. You can go snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, diving, or boating; look for native wildlife; and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
The region is significant to New Zealand’s colonial history as the site of the first permanent European settlement, as well as where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840—which established British sovereignty and led to the formation of the nation of New Zealand.