Where are the Bay of Islands?
Essentially, the Bay of Islands is a region in the north island of New Zealand. Refer to the picture below.
Bay of Islands New Zealand Map
Assuming you are driving:
Getting to the Bay of Islands
Here are the driving distances to the Bay of Islands. There are two common stops, Kerikeri or Paihia.
Whangarei to Kerikeri: 1hr 8min, 84.7km
Kaitaia to Kerikeri: 1hr 12min, 87.6km
Auckland to Kerikeri: 3hr 6 min, 242km
Whangarei to Paihia: ~1hr, 70km
Kaitaia to Paihia: 1hr 22minutes, 101km
Auckland to Paihia: 2hr 58min, 227km
The times and distances supplied above are based on Google Maps. Take note that many of them make use of State Highway number 1 – which is a toll road.
*Toll roads in New Zealand can be easily paid online at the official website. Just key in your vehicle registration plate. Prices will increase by 10-20 cents as of March 2019. You can do it at selected petrol stations too but there will be an additional charge of $1+ NZD,
Best time to go – Bay of Islands New Zealand weather
Basically anytime. The weather in this beautiful region of New Zealand is warm enough to be enjoyed any season of the year.
In winter, the highest temperatures are around 25C while in summer (the hottest months being January and February), the maximum temperature can be 30C.
The only thing that you need to watch out for is rain (~50% of the year) and the storms during summer.
We went on our cruise at the Bay of Islands during January. Maybe our skin just isn’t thick enough (since we’re from a tropical country), but we still needed wet suits to snorkel off the boat. >.<
You can however, see many locals swimming close to the beaches.
Things to do at the Bay of Islands
The list is endless:
- taking a cruise or a tour for the Bay of Islands (We highly recommend the Classic Overnight Cruise by The Rock)
- whale and dolphin watching
- stand up paddling
- sky diving
- scenic flights
- island hopping
- scuba diving
- visit Russel, New Zealand’s first capital
- learn more about Waitangi Day at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
- all sorts of water sports…. like parasailing
- see some waterfalls
Accommodation at the Bay of Islands New Zealand
We did our research (via Campermate) and chose this holiday park (i.e. paid campground). All of the holiday parks are around the same price range but this one had the most favorable reviews:
Waitangi Holiday Park
I personally love their lonnnnnnng clothesline outside. And the big trees that shade the grass-covered unpowered sites. Picnic tables too.
Their kitchen and shower facilities are all clean and modern. Can’t comment on the laundry or BBQ facilities since we did not use them. Guest lounge is small but comfortable. Wifi is was slow. Staff are friendly and helpful.
Price: $36 NZD for 2 people on an unpowered site.
As our pick up point for The Rock Bay of Islands Cruise was at Paihia wharf, we needed something that was walking distance. This holiday park is roughly 20 minutes’ walk from the wharf.
The Rock Adventure Cruise – Bay of Islands
To start with, we first heard about this tour from the original owner of our camper car. And after we tried the Classic Overnight Cruise ourselves, we can see why:
Why The Rock Adventure Cruise is worth it
- Accommodation and three delicious meals are included
- The crew are simply amazing
- The small group of passengers pretty much ensures a more personal experience
- The Bay of Islands is beautiful and this is a good way to see it. Especially on a sunny day.
- You can try a lot of activities while on this cruise, like kayaking
- They have a well-planned itinerary which if weather permits, will include at least one stop at an island for a quick hike and some beach chill time.
- There are plenty of games including a pool table and even some instruments on-board
- There is a chance to go night kayaking to see glowing algae
- Snorkeling gear is provided. But wet-suits are at an extra charge of $8 per person
- They frequently change their route – so you can go again if you want to!
- They have a bar on-board. You will be charged for drinks at the end of the trip. You can refill your water bottle as often as you like though!
- The impact on the environment is something the tour operators consider. Always a plus in my book. They keep recyclables separate and even use sea water for the flush toilets.
- If you’re lucky, you will see dolphins!
- There’s a photographer/videographer on board.
- If you’ve never been fishing before, here’s a good chance to learn or just try your luck at it. 😉
What you need to know about The Rock Adventure Cruise
Price ranges from $138pp for the day cruises, $228-278pp for the shared bunk beds and up to $700 (for 2 people) for the Classic double rooms.
There are three packages available. More details (including the itineraries) are available on their site here.
You just need to bring one overnight bag – change of clothes (you can shower on-board), swimwear, a fast drying towel, toiletries, open toe shoes, hat and sunscreen. Camera too!
If you’re looking for a leisure cruise, then consider something like the Ha Long bay cruises in North Vietnam.
But this particular cruise is more suitable for families and people who appreciate a busy itinerary.
The best thing about this cruise is undoubtedly the high-spirited crew. It’s a small group of passengers too so you’ll get a chance to meet everyone, including the crew.
Not to mention, the Bay of Islands is just simply stunning. Don’t be deterred by the price! We don’t regret going on this cruise one bit!
Does this cruise sound like your cup of tea? Leave a comment below!
Other things to do in the North Island, New Zealand
Hike in Tongariro National Park – Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Here are some things to do in Coromandel region
Explore New Zealand’s capital, Wellington