Bay of Islands food and drink itineraries
Being located in subtropical Northland, it’s no surprise that the Bay of Islands region is a great place for fresh local produce, from delicious seafood to abundant fruit and vegetables and locally-made wines. Relax, indulge and let delicious food and wine experiences shape your plans. Here are our recommendations for food and wine itineraries in the Bay of Islands.
Luxurious long weekend of food and wine
Arrive in Paihia in the late afternoon and explore the town. As the sun goes down, enjoy a drink at a waterfront bar like 35 Degrees South, then wander along the wharf to Charlotte’s Kitchen for dinner. This popular restaurant and bar serves up contemporary New Zealand food amid stunning surroundings.
After a leisurely breakfast (try the breakfast burritos at El Café!), spend the morning out on the water on a Hole in the Rock Cruise with Island Stopover. Over four hours you'll see the best of this beautiful region including Cape Brett, the famous Hole in the Rock, and stunning Urupukapuka Island.
Stop off in Russell at the end of your cruise and explore this charming and historic village. All that fresh sea air will have helped you work up an appetite, so it’s time for a long lunch on the verandah of the Duke of Marlborough, New Zealand’s oldest licensed pub.
There’s plenty to see and do in Russell – visit Christ Church and Pompallier Mission, wander over the hill to Oneroa and laze on the beach, or trek up Flagstaff Hill for amazing views. After your indulgent lunch, can we suggest something simple and quintessentially Kiwi for dinner? Pick up some fresh fish and chips and enjoy them picnic-style on the beach before you take the ferry back to Paihia.
Head to Kerikeri, a foodie’s paradise. Pick up a coffee and some locally-grown bargains at a weekend farmers’ market, then explore orchards and vineyards down its country roads. Pick a vineyard (we recommend Ake Ake and Marsden Estate) and graze on a delicious platter or a la carte lunch while enjoying their wares.
If you didn’t bring the car, opt for the Discover Kerikeri day tour instead. This relaxed tour departs from Paihia and takes in some of the town’s historic highlights. It also visits a local vineyard for tastings, as well as the delectable treats on offer at the Makana Chocolate Factory.
Stay in Kerikeri for dinner and choose from some tantalising options. The Pear Tree is a Kerikeri institution and offers fine dining in a gorgeous riverside location. Or there’s Wharepuke, sitting in subtropical gardens and serving up an intriguing mix of European and modern Thai-inspired cuisine.
Ultimate Bay of Islands food and wine getaway
Arrive in Paihia and settle into your accommodation. Cross the harbour to Russell and start your Bay of Islands foodie experience the right way, with a gourmet dinner at the Duke of Marlborough. Enjoy top quality New Zealand cuisine with a focus on seasonal local ingredients, accompanied by a carefully-chosen beverage list.
Head to the farmers’ market in Paihia or Kerikeri and grab some delicious goodies. Pack them up along with your water bottle and set off on board Island Adventurer for a Bays and Beaches cruise to get away from it all. Choose the free island extension and get dropped on beautiful Urupukapuka Island, a pest-free sanctuary, for the day. Wander the island’s excellent walking trails and immerse yourself in nature, stopping for a hearty picnic lunch with your farmers’ market haul, before being picked up at the end of the day.
After a hard day’s walking, you’ll probably feel like some comfort food for dinner. Pop into Charlotte’s Kitchen at the end of Paihia wharf for a relaxed vibe and delicious food with a modern twist. Alternatively, choose from a range of other friendly spots in Paihia, like Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack, Alfresco’s or a host of options including Thai, Indian and Italian fare.
Spend the morning experiencing New Zealand history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds with its award-winning new museum. If you’re visiting in summer, book in for their evening Hāngi and Concert while you’re there! Try authentic Māori cuisine with a hangi dinner cooked underground in the traditional style, accompanied by a high energy cultural performance.
In the afternoon, choose one of the many Bay of Islands activities on offer – go kayaking, parasailing, play a round of golf or just relax on the beach. Make sure you pop in to Cellini’s for gelato too!
If you’re not heading back to Waitangi for dinner, eat at Provenir Cuisine and Cellar for innovative food and wine served by a seriously knowledgeable team.
Cruise across the harbour on the passenger ferry and choose a waterfront spot for brunch. Then join the one-hour Russell mini tour for a relaxing way to see the top highlights of this fascinating little village.
If you have more time
- For a guilt-free meal try the Orange Frog in Paihia – they have a great range of vegetarian and vegan options
- Visit Omata Estate just out of Russell and taste their award-winning syrah, or relax with a platter of treats
- If you’re driving from Okiato into Russell, keep an eye out for the Kororareka Oysters sign. Fresh locally-farmed oysters are available here – a delicious Bay of Islands foodie treat!