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Our Bay of Islands holidays can take you to the unspoilt coves and beaches of this beautiful area. This natural harbour is around 10 miles wide and is located on the temperate north-east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. With its clear waters and beautiful blue skies, it’s hard not to think of it as paradise.

Water activities are aplenty during your Bay of Islands holidays, including diving, fishing or swimming with dolphins. If you’re looking to explore, there are boat cruises around the islands, including taking a trip to Motukokako Island, also known as Piercy Island and Hole in the Rock. There’s also a plethora of sandy beaches and secluded coves calling out to those who simply wish to relax in the sunshine.

Bay of Islands holidays offer natural and multicultural treasures

New Zealand’s founding document was signed at Waitangi Treaty Grounds by the British Crown and Maori Chiefs in 1840. These grounds are a must if you’re looking to discover and understand more about Maori culture. With traditional Maori performances in a meeting house containing exquisite carvings, this award-winning venue should be on the ‘to do’ list for all travellers to the Bay of Islands. You can also explore the native forest and gardens surrounding the grounds, which pleasantly add to the stunning views over the Bay of Islands.

Experience the majesty of the Kauri trees as you visit the Bay of Islands. Some of the trees reach up to 600 metres tall and several metres wide. For a more relaxed day, enjoy the splendour of the Ninety Mile Beach, with its glorious sands and laid-back approach to life. The subtropical climate is known for producing delightful wines and there are lots of artisan food producers to entice your taste buds – perfect for a picnic on the beach. If you prefer to explore further afield, take a trip to Cape Regina and experience the ocean views where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet.

Pair your Bay of Islands holiday with a trip to Auckland. Located just a three and a half hour drive away, which is short for New Zealand standards, this thriving city is home to a cosmopolitan atmosphere and plenty of attractions.

Destination Highlights

  • Take a boat tour to the Hole in the Rock on Piercy Island and sail through its 16 metre-high hole
  • Visit the historic town of Russell and enjoy seaside restaurants, calm waters and spectacular sunsets
  • Head to a secluded beach - with 144 islands to choose from, it’s easy to find one whether you’re travelling by land or sea
  • Go bodyboarding down the sand dunes on Ninety Mile Beach and dig for native shellfish

Great sample itineraries

Get inspired by our our Bay of Islands tour itineraries and multi-centre holidays to get the most from your trip. Speak to our Destination Specialists for a bespoke itinerary tailored to you.

Te Puia, Rotorua

New Zealand North Island Tour Self Drive

  • 9 Days
Our tour of New Zealand’s North Island is perfect for adventurous couples who want to explore the wonders of this...
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Self drive holidays

Auckland To Christchurch Tour

  • 17 Days
  • Guide Price £6,495 PP
Set out on a New Zealand adventure and get a true taste for the country on an escorted New Zealand...
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Escorted tours holidays
a snow covered mountain

Small Group Escorted Tour Of New Zealand

  • 21 Days
Spend 21 days exploring an endlessly stunning country and get a taste of the fascinating Māori culture during your Essence...
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Adventure holidays

Self Drive Tour Of New Zealand South Island

  • 15 Days
Our self drive tour of New Zealand’s South Island takes in some of the area’s most spectacular destinations and packs...
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Cultural holidays

Explore Bay of Islands

Time Zone

GMT +13

Flight Time

The Bay of Islands is around a 50 minute flight from Auckland Airport, or a 3-hour drive from North Auckland. From London Heathrow to Auckland is around 24 hours.


New Zealand dollar (NZD)

Visa Information

UK citizens or passport holders do not need visas for trips up to six months.



Health Info

Health information – no mandatory vaccinations required. It's important to contact your GP for latest recommendations.


Book a guided kayaking tour and see beautiful mangrove forests and thundering waterfalls. The horseshoe shaped Haruru Waterfall is a must, while you might also spot dolphins and seals as they frolic in the waters. Learn about the Māori legends and stories from the area and stop on pretty beaches for a relaxed picnic during the summer.

Pompallier Mission and Printery

Dating back to 1842, the building was originally set up by French brothers who came to New Zealand as missionaries. The building housed a Bible printing press, and is the country’s oldest industrial construction, with fascinating stories to be told. Wander through the beautiful gardens among colourful flowers and see the unique architecture of the house, as well as its 19th Century printing press.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Often said to be New Zealand’s most important historical site, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is where the country became its own nation. Take in beautiful views over the Bay of Islands and enjoy the gardens before learning stories of the past at the Museum of Waitangi. Watch Māori cultural performances, see Māori architecture and the largest ceremonial war canoe.

Boat Tours

The best way to explore the Bay of Islands is with a boat tour, which will take you through the sparkling waters. Take in views of the many luscious islands and their golden sandy beaches, see waterfalls and the colourful birds that fly overhead. Visitors have a chance to see dolphins as they play in the waves, as well as the Hole in the Rock.

Charlie, Destination Manager

“The bustling hub of Paihia is the gateway to the Bay of Islands and a passenger ferry to the island of Russell takes just 15 minutes, although driving is also an option.”


Destination Manager
Lucy, Destination Specialist

“Make sure to try some watersports or boat trips during your holiday. The Bay of Islands can be explored by kayak, motor boat or even sailboat.”


Destination Specialist

Events & Festivals

Festivals and events are wonderful to include during your Bay of Islands holiday, offering a glimpse into the country’s authentic culture and traditions.


Waitangi Day

Waitangi Day celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi that took place in 1840, on the 6th February. This day is held as a public holiday in New Zealand. A flag is raised on the Treaty Grounds at sunrise, and is then followed by a church service and Maori song and dance performances.


Local Cuisine

Get a flavour of the local culture through your palate during your Bay of Islands holiday. Discover a unique creation.


Honey shops

Visit New Zealand’s largest beehive and experience honey production first-hand. Learn about the bee behaviour and enjoy watching their remarkable waggle dance. The Bay of Islands Honey Shop offers tours into the beehive, as well as offering a full range of honey and honey-based products, including skincare and beekeeping equipment.

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