Bay of Islands & Cape Reinga Holidays

Explore New Zealand’s Northland, famed for its islands, beaches and kauri forests.

Head north from Auckland to visit two of the most picturesque areas on New Zealand’s North Island. The Bay of Islands is known for its spectacular rock formations and diverse marine life, while Cape Reinga is an area of vast stretches of golden sands and Māori legends. Inland, the area is full of towering kauri forests, including Waipoua where you will see what is believed to be New Zealand’s largest and oldest tree Tāne Mahuta (father of the forest).

Explore the quaint towns of Russell and Paihia, kayak or sail through the Bay of Islands and enjoy the thrill of being driven along the sandy highway of Ninety-Mile Beach. Learn about the agreement between the Māori and British at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and see where the ancestral spirits of the Māori depart at Cape Reinga.

The Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga are perfect for a few days’ extension from Auckland.

Read more

Bay of Islands & Cape Reinga Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Bay of Islands & Cape Reinga

Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel

Modern hotel with beautiful ocean views

Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands, Paihia

Comfortable base for local exploration

The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Matauri Bay

A world-class plantation-style lodge set on a 6000-acre estate overlooking the stunning Cavalli I...

Get to know the Bay of Islands & Cape Reinga and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.


GMT +12 (with New Zealand Daylight Time and New Zealand Standard Time applied, this largely equates to 11 hours ahead of the UK from early April to late September and 13 hours ahead from late September to late March)


New Zealand dollar


25½ hours (not including stopover time)


New Zealand has no state religion but the majority of people are Christian


Māori and English

Where are the Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga?
The Bay of Islands is located in the northeast of North Island New Zealand, between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula. It is about a 3-hour drive or 40-minute flight from Auckland. At the top of North Island, where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet, is Cape Reinga.

Read more

Paihia & Russell
The towns of Paihia and Russell are perfect bases for exploring the Bay of Islands. Whether you drive or take the ferry, it’s a 45-minute journey between the two. From Paihia you can take one of the daily cruises that visit the Bay of Islands and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds are just a 30-minute walk from the town. Russell is significant in the history of New Zealand as it was here that the first European settlers originally arrived. Many of the town’s characterful and historical buildings now house cafés, shops and art galleries.

Read more

The Islands
It’s worth spending a few days in the Bay of Islands area. Most visitors base themselves in Russell or Paihia and take a boat cruise to explore just some of the 144 islands that are scattered in the bay. Each island is different in shape and size; the largest is Urupukapuka Island where boats anchor at Otehei Bay where you can swim from the sweeping curve of golden sands. One of the longer cruises takes you to see the naturally carved Hole in the Rock on Motukōkaku, an important island for the Māori.

Read more

Top of the North
Travel, quite literally, to the end of the road to visit Cape Reinga. Here, from this rocky headland, you can see where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean collide. Walk to the lighthouse for incredible coastal views and of course take an obligatory photo at the signpost that will really show you how far you are away from home. Most visitors take a tour from Paihia or Kaitaia to Cape Reinga so that they can experience the thrill of being driven along the famous highway at Ninety-Mile Beach.

Read more

Māori culture
Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds for a greater understanding of the signing of an agreement in 1840 between the Māori and the British. Set in native gardens, there are two museums showcasing Aotearoa New Zealand and cultural performances including the pōwhiri welcome and the haka war dance. Cape Reinga is also of cultural significance to the Māori. The sacred pohutukawa tree, perched on a rocky headland is where the Māori believe the spirits of their deceased leap into the ocean to return to Hawaiki, their ancestral home.

Read more

Marine adventures
The best way to explore the Bay of Islands is on a cruise from Paihia or Russell. One of the most popular cruises is to see the Hole in the Rock on Motukōkako Island. According to local legend, the Māori would canoe through the natural archway for good fortune before heading into battle. Cruising the islands is also one of the best ways to encounter some of New Zealand’s marine wildlife including fur seals, dolphins and migratory whales. Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding are popular activities and divers are drawn to the area to explore shipwrecks, including Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior that was moved to an artificial reef here.

Read more

Ninety-Mile Beach
Ninety-Mile Beach stretches between Ahipara and Scott Point. Despite being a misnomer at just shy of 55-miles it’s a must see for those wishing to explore Northland. The sands are an official highway, however as many rental vehicles are not allowed on the beach, it’s worth taking one of the organised 4x4 excursions for a thrilling ride along the coastline. To avoid a quicksand encounter, the tides determine when the shore is best to be driven on.

Read more

Bay of Islands & Cape Reinga Weather

Dec - Apr