Bay of Islands, New Zealand

The Bay of Islands consists of 144 islands in the Northland region of the North Island. Known for its beauty and rich history, it’s a paradise for those who love pristine beaches, spectacular coastlines and marine life, including penguins, dolphins, marlin and whales.

A subtropical micro-region, it is a popular cruise destination year round. On land, it has shops, restaurants and art galleries, and many beautiful walks. Water sports include diving, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking and swimming with dolphins near the Hole in the Rock at Piercy Island. The main towns are Paihia, Waitangi, Kerikeri, Opua, Kawakawa and Russell, which was the country’s first sea port and European settlement. Some buildings constructed in the mid-1800s are still standing.
Around 40 cruise ships anchor near Paihia each year. Most passengers are taken by tender to the wharf at Russell or at Waitangi.

Cruise Deals

Auckland to Sydney

4 night cruise sailing from Auckland aboard the Sea Princess.
Departs 21 Oct 2021
per person twin share

Auckland to Sydney

4 night cruise sailing from Auckland aboard the Sea Princess.
Departs 16 Sep 2021
per person twin share


6 night cruise sailing from Adelaide aboard the Pacific Aria.
Departs 06 Apr 2020
per person twin share

Australia Getaway

5 night cruise sailing from Sydney, Australia aboard the Regal Princess.
Departs 09 Apr 2021
per person twin share

New Zealand

13 night cruise sailing from Sydney, Australia aboard the Ruby Princess.
Departs 24 Feb 2020
per person twin share

New Zealand

6 night cruise sailing from Auckland aboard the Queen Elizabeth.
Departs 09 Dec 2020
per person twin share

South Pacific & New Zealand

11 night cruise sailing from Sydney, Australia aboard the Ovation of the Seas.
Departs 12 Mar 2020
per person twin share

New Zealand

13 night cruise sailing from Sydney, Australia aboard the Ruby Princess.
Departs 08 Mar 2020
per person twin share

Port Location

Located in the heart of the Bay of Islands, Waitangi Wharf is 2.1 kilometres from Paihia, the area’s main tourist town. Paihia can be reached on foot or via a free shuttle bus. Tenders to Russell Wharf are only available for independent travellers. A ferry from the wharf to Paihia takes 10 minutes. 

Port Facilities

Local transport and area information is available at Waitangi and Russell wharfs.
Facilities include:
  • free shuttle service from Waitangi Wharf to Paihia i-Site Visitor Centre wharf
  • Bay of Islands ambassadors on board to help with maps and information
  • easy access to the ferry service from Russell to Paihia.
Paihia is the hub of the Bay of Islands and the starting point for exploring the area. Staff and tour operators are available at the i-Site Visitor Centre to provide advice on transport, accommodation and sightseeing activities. 

How to Get Around

Waitangi and Russell wharfs are conveniently linked to bus and ferry services, ensuring easy access to the main town of Paihia.
Car hire companies and taxi services operate within the vicinity of Paihia. All information regarding these services is available from the i-Site Visitor Centre. 
Travel times from Waitangi Wharf to Paihia:
  • By foot it is a 20-minute leisurely walk.
  • By shuttle bus it is a 3-minute ride.
Travel times from Russell Wharf to Paihia:
  • By ferry it is a 10-minute ride ($7 one-way and $12 return). 
Travel times from Paihia to other towns:
  • By car it is 6 minutes to Opua, 18 minutes to Kawakawa and 20 minutes to Kerikeri.

General Information

  • Currency - the local currency is the New Zealand dollar. Coins come in $1, $2, 10 cent, 20 cent and 50 cent denominations. Notes come in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.
  • Time Zone - it is New Zealand Standard Time, which is 12 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
  • Weather - the Bay of Islands has a semi-tropical climate. Average temperatures range from 27º Celsius in the summer months of December to February and 15º Celsius in the winter months of June to August. The generally warm temperatures make it a year-round destination.


  • Waitangi Treaty Grounds - visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and the Maori in 1840. Guided tours are available for a more in-depth understanding of the events surrounding the signing of the agreement to make New Zealand a British colony. Cultural performances run at regular intervals throughout the day. 
  • Bay of Islands Kayaking - starting out from Paihia, Bay of Islands Kayaking offers eco and fishing kayak tours to some of the island’s most scenic locations. Suitable for all ages, this is a great way to experience the area’s rich wildlife and cultural history. Tourists can paddle with dolphins, explore caves and even go fishing. 
  • Pompallier House - visit Russell’s historic Pompallier House, a Catholic mission and the only remaining building of its kind in the Western Pacific. Built in 1842, it has a working tannery and printing workshop. Take a tour to learn how French missionaries printed many books in Maori more than 150 years ago. 
  • R. Tucker Thompson - climb aboard the R. Tucker Thompson and experience the thrill of sailing a working tall ship. Suitable for all ages, tours leave Paihia from November to Easter. Visitors are given the chance to help set the sails, take the helm, climb the rigging and venture out onto the bowsprit to ride the waves.

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