Bay of Islands adventure itineraries
The Bay of Islands is known as one of the best maritime parks in New Zealand, but did you know it’s an awesome adventure playground too? There are many thrilling things to get stuck into in the Bay of Islands and we've put together some itineraries jam-packed with activities to suit the most daredevil of people!
A whirlwind weekend up north
Arrive in Paihia in the late afternoon and head out for a sunset horse ride. Feel the wind in your hair and the warmth of the setting sun as you trek over coastal land and through the rolling surf. It’s the perfect way to ease into your action-packed weekend!
Jump on board the earliest Island Adventurer Cliffs and Caves cruise. Nip in and out of bays, get up close to impressive rocks and caves and speed around the rugged, wilder side of the Bay of Islands. It’s a short cruise at only 2 hours long and delivers a burst of adrenaline - a great wakeup call!
Next, it’s time take to the skies for an unforgettable parasailing adventure. Soar to a height of 1,200 feet and enjoy an exhilarating ride as you’re towed behind a speeding boat. Sit back, relax and soak up the incredible aerial views - it’s both exciting and relaxing! You can also do this with a friend or two on the tandem parasails.
Tuck into a hearty lunch as you’ll need some energy for an afternoon of mountain biking.
For a thrilling but gruelling afternoon of blood, sweat (and maybe some tears), you can’t go past the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park. Hire a bike, hit the tracks and get amongst native New Zealand forest. You can choose a bike track to match your skills ranging from Grade 2, (easy) right up to Grade 5 (expert). Not only will you enjoy the ride, but the forest scenery and views of the Bay will blow your mind. If you’d prefer to ride a local trail, hire a bike from Paihia Mountain Bike rentals and they’ll tell you where to go.
Head up to Cape Reinga for a day full of action and adventure. Join our return day tour from Paihia and drive in the surf along the legendary Ninety Mile Beach, throw yourself off the massive sand dunes at Te Paki Stream and stand at the very tip of New Zealand, a perfect end to your Bay of Islands whirlwind weekend.
3-4 days Summertime adventure
In the summer months, spend an evening immersed in Māori culture at the award-winning Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Arrive in Paihia in the late afternoon and join the Māori hāngi and concert experience. Witness hair-raising Māori cultural performances, see your traditional hāngi dinner being lifted from the earth and engage in an authentic pōwhiri (Māori welcome), before tucking into your delicious feast of traditional Māori food.
Spend the morning blasting around the Bay on a jet ski! You can either hire one and go exploring on your own or join a tour with an experienced local guide. Stop off at secluded islands, zoom in and out of sheltered bays and push the boundaries as you journey out past Cape Brett Peninsula. The best part about being on a jet ski is you’re in control and you get to decide how fast to go - within the regulations of course!
For a memorable and unmissable afternoon in the water, head out on the Dolphin Eco Experience cruise to view and swim with dolphins. They’re playful, inquisitive creatures and they’re not shy when you’re in the water with them.
Take a well-deserved break and soak up the evening sun with a meal at one of Paihia’s waterfront restaurants.
Today’s another action-packed day for the young at heart. Climb to a height of 16,000 feet, throw yourself out of an airplane and freefall for an incredible 60 seconds. The flight itself is amazing and you’ll see just how expansive the Bay of Islands really is.
Spend the afternoon on board the Hole in the Rock with island stopover cruise and get right up to Motukokako Island. If conditions permit you’ll power right through the hole - just make sure you’re at the very front of the boat for the best view! We’ll also stop off at an island where you can explore or enjoy a leisurely swim.
On the way back jump off in Russell for dinner at the Duke of Marlborough, New Zealand’s very first pub.
Spend the morning surrounded by native bush on the Haruru Falls walk. Starting at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, follow the boardwalk along the Waitangi River, it’ll take you to the rare and impressive horseshoe shaped falls, known as Haruru Falls. The sight and sound of the thundering falls is well worth the 2.5 hour walk.
If you have more time:
- Go diving and see the Bay’s incredible underwater world including tropical fish, stingrays, coral reefs and iconic shipwrecks
- Hire a kayak and paddle out to a number of secluded islands, waterfalls and beaches
- Join a fishing charter and take on the big fish
- Cruise along the Waitangi River then jump up on a kayak and paddle right up to Haruru Falls, you can do this in the late evening for an added kick.