Two Night bay Of Islands Itinerary

Auckland - Bay of Islands - Auckland

As one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most popular destinations, the unbelievable natural beauty, and 144 islands make for an idyllic aquatic playground.

Immerse yourself in the history and culture of this iconic and significant destination. The Bay of Islands is the perfect destination to experience Northland’s key iconic attractions, get out on the water or take a scenic flight, and discover some of the local food and beverage offerings at one of the many eateries. This itinerary is suitable for FIT’s, families, and groups.

Auckland - The Bay of Islands

Day 1

As you’re heading to the Bay of Islands, which is just a three-hour drive from Auckland, call in at the funky Eutopia Café in Kaiwaka for a snack and drink. Continue north with a stop at Kawakawa for the world-famous Hundertwasser Toilets or browse the local Māori art at the Kings Theatre Gallery before arriving at Paihia. Check out the Northland Journey map All About Islands to get deeper into the region.

In the afternoon visit the iconic Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which holds national significance as the signing place of Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding document. Learn about the Treaty and the history of the area and site. Take an informative guided tour of the grounds, experience a cultural performance in an authentic Meeting House, visit the Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi and Te Rau Aroha Museum. View the world’s largest ceremonial canoe and enjoy a bite to eat in the Whare Waka café with stunning views over the Bay of Islands. The Waitangi experience pass is valid for two days as there is so much to see and do here.

The Bay of Islands has the biggest cluster of accommodation offerings in Northland from luxury lodges, motels, hotels & B&B’s. For larger groups consider The Scenic Hotel and Copthorne Bay of Islands. For smaller groups and couples, the heritage house Arcadia Lodge offers glorious views, impeccable service, and legendary breakfasts, with suites or cottage accommodation options. The historic Duke of Marlborough, another bespoke option, is a great place to relax and unwind and watch the world go by. You are spoilt for choice for dining options, consider a meal watching the sunset at The Duke of Marlborough showcasing Taitokerau Northland’s local food and beverage offerings.

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The Duke of Marlborough

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Waitangi Treaty Grounds

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R. Tucker Thompson

Bay of Islands

Day 2

From the quaint towns of Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri, you can experience almost all the Bay has to offer. Jump onboard the Explore Discover The Bay Cruise departing at 10.00am, and stopping at Otehei Bay for chance to take in the views and enjoy lunch at the licensed restaurant at Urupukapuka Island. It’s a perfect spot for a swim or kayak adventure. If you’re feeling like taking to the ocean for the day, consider the traditional sailing heritage vessel the R Tucker Thompson. Their Classic day sail leaves from the Russell wharf at 10am. It is a great option for groups looking for a social day out, a family get together or special event. Or you could join the team at Barefoot Sailing for a Island Hopper Cruise from 10am - 4pm or their famous Sundowner Evening Cruise at 5pm - 7pm to explore in inner harbour. 

Another iconic tour option is to take a full day coach trip to the very top of the North Island – Cape Reinga (Te Rerenga Wairua) with Fullers GreatSights on the Cape Reinga & Ninety Mile Beach Tour, which leaves early at 7am and gets back around 6pm, and includes lunch. Your driver guide will share the stories of this significant site where, according to Māori legend, spirits depart on their journey home to Hawaiki. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views, visit the iconic lighthouse, and see the point where the Tasman Sea and the mighty Pacific Ocean come crashing together. Ninety Mile Beach is another highlight of the tour, do not be alarmed when the driver takes the bus up Te Paki Stream towards the mountainous sand dunes, you can even clamber up then sand-board your way down, or just stretch your legs after the first part of the tour. On your journey back to the Bay of Islands the driver will share local insight and , extensive knowledge with a fantastic sense of humour to create an unforgettable adventure.

For dinner, we suggest trying Charlottes Kitchen at the Paihia wharf or Hone’s Kitchen in Russell.

Bay of Islands – Auckland

Day 3

Enjoy a morning experience in Russell or Paihia before heading south to Auckland.

Take to the sky for a scenic flight with Salt Air which departs from the beachfront helipad in Paihia, next to the wharf. The flight heads across towards Russell taking in inviting turquoise waters with views over Opua, heading out towards Cape Brett and circling around the famous Hole in The Rock landmark.

If you’re keen to explore underwater join Paihia Dive and explore the Rainbow Warrior or HMNZS Canterbury wrecks, you will be amazing by the underwater playground and breath-taking scenery.

Another option is to hop onboard the Carino Wildlife Cruise where you can immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of the Bay of Islands during this island and wildlife day cruise. Watch dolphins, penguins and seabirds in their natural habitat, stop at a beach on an island sanctuary, for an hour or so for exploring, snorkelling, walking and relaxing.

Depending on your activity option for day three, you may have time route back call into Whangārei and enjoy another activity such as a visit to the Hundertwasser Art Centre in the Town Basin. Take a guided tour of the last creative architecturally designed building that Friedensreich Hundertwasser designed before he died. You will be amazed by the uniqueness, romanticism, and creativity in the building itself, with uneven floors and a forested roof with over 4000 trees and plants. There is over 80 pieces of original artwork on display, plus original photos, and information about Hundertwasser and his life. There is a lift for easy access to the first floor and living roof has stunning views of the Whangarei marina and district. Allow 1-2 hours for this visit.

 The thriving Whangārei city hub hosts many places to eat, shop and browse before you head back to Auckland which is approximately a two-hour drive.