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The small townships of the Bay of Islands are steeped in colonial history, and set against a patchwork of gently rolling farmland and ancient forests of venerable kauri trees.

For most, however, it is the coast that is the highlight. The 144 islands are scattered in the clear Pacific waters, which are abundant with marine wildlife. In the countless secluded bays, seals, dolphins and whales are often sighted.

Exploring the Bay of Islands

Take to the water to fully appreciate the area’s natural beauty, either on a Cape Brett and ‘Hole in the Rock’ cruise from Paihia, or sail out on board the ‘R. Tucker Thompson’, built in the style of a 100-year-old schooner. Highlights include swimming with dolphins, or game-fishing for some of the world’s largest marlin, tuna and shark.


The area is also well-known for its diving; a string of wrecks along the coastline from Tutukaka in the south to Matauri Bay in the north has created a refuge for marine life, and the clear and protected waters of Deep Water Cove offer consistently good diving conditions throughout the year.

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Audley Travel Specialist Vicki

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Bay of Islands by contacting one of our New Zealand specialists

Places to visit in Bay of Islands

Featuring heavily on our experiences of visiting Bay of Islands, these selected places are destinations that also prove consistently popular with our travellers. Our specialists can help you choose how to include them in your wider trip, based on your preferences.

Suggested itineraries featuring Bay of Islands

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Bay of Islands, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Bay of Islands

Places & hotels on the map

    Places in and around Bay of Islands

    Accommodation choices for Bay of Islands

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Bay of Islands. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Cliff Edge, Opua

      Cliff Edge by the Sea

      First Class

      Located on a secluded promontory, Cliff Edge By The Sea is a delightful property that commands spectacular views over the Bay of Islands.

    • Sanctuary at Bay of Islands, Opua

      Sanctuary at the Bay of Islands

      First Class

      The Sanctuary at the Bay of Islands is a custom-built lodge, carefully designed to provide luxurious, elegant suites that make the most of this truly stunning location.

    • Kauri Cliffs, Matauri Bay

      The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs


      Set on 6,000 acres of land with spectacular views over Matauri Bay and the offshore Cavalli Islands, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is among the most exclusive and luxurious in all New Zealand.

    • Arcadia Lodge, Russell & The Bay of Islands

      Arcadia Lodge


      Arcadia Lodge is a large, characterful two-storey house with just five rooms. Its expansive decking overlooking Russell and the bay is the ideal place to enjoy breakfast in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening.

    • Eagle Spirit, Eagles Nest

      Eagles Nest


      The Eagles Nest is made up of five luxury villas that look out over the Bay of Islands. Each has its own lap pool or spa, spacious rooms and chefs who will design a menu of your choice.

    • Allegra House, Paihia & The Bay of Islands

      Allegra House

      First Class

      Located high on the hill overlooking Paihia and the ocean, Allegra House is a wonderful place to stay in the heart of the Bay of Islands, with its friendly hosts and rooms that boast excellent views.

    • Decks of Paihia, Paihia & The Bay of Islands

      Decks of Paihia


      A modern bed and breakfast, Decks of Paihia is perched high above the town of Paihia with spacious, en suite rooms and great views over the native bush and out into the bay.