About the Bay of Islands

Welcome to the birthplace of New Zealand

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The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand's most spectacular destinations to visit year round. Its sheltered waters make it the perfect place to swim with dolphins and view a variety of marine life. Regarded as the birthplace of New Zealand, the region affords a unique insight into early European settlement and Māori culture, making a visit to the Bay a must-do on any New Zealand itinerary.

The Bay of Islands has a long, fascinating and often wild history. Once a booming, bustling and bawdy seafaring centre, it’s now a peaceful and pristine spot, and offers the perfect base from which to explore Northland.

Visit Bay of Islands

Fullers GreatSights is proud to be a founding member of the Bay of Islands Marketing Group, promoting the Bay of Islands as a domestic holiday destination along with other local operators and stakeholders.

Sunset in Russell, Bay of Islands




The Bay of Islands is a natural harbour about 16 kilometres wide on the north-eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. At its northern end are the Kerikeri and Te Puna (Mangonui) inlets and to the south is the Waikare inlet. The Bay is home to 144 islands, ranging from rocky outcrops to large inhabited islands with private farms. Towns in and around the Bay of Islands include Paihia, Russell, Kerikeri, Opua and Kawakawa.

Situated in the ‘winterless north’ of New Zealand, the Bay of Islands enjoys mild winters and hot summers. Summer temperatures can pass 30°C (around 90°F), with January and February the warmest months. Average rainfall in the Bay of Islands is around 2000mm. Thanks to tropical currents travelling down from the equator, typical water temperatures are 20–22°C in summer, and 15–16°C in winter.

The Bay of Islands’ calm, sandy beaches, abundant marine life and lush native forest make it a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders and visitors.

The Bay of Islands is made up of 144 islands. View Bay of Islands Map >>


In the centuries after Kupe discovered New Zealand, Māori migrated here in great waka (canoes) and settled around the Northland region. The Bay of Islands is home to many iwi (tribes) including the Ngāpuhi.

Many early Māori settlements later played important roles in the development of New Zealand, such as Kororareka (Russell), Kerikeri and Waitangi. Throughout the region there are opportunities to experience Māori culture and hear the myths and legends of this deeply spiritual people.


With warm, calm water year-round, the Bay of Islands is a marine playground, perfect for swimming, fishing, boating, diving and kayaking.

Fullers GreatSights offers a wide range of Bay of Islands cruises, as well as tours to neighbouring regions like the Hokianga and Far North.

Surrounded by rolling farmland and native bush, the Bay is a popular spot for walking and tramping. Find out more about Bay of Islands walks

    • Top Beaches

      View Northland's best beaches >>

    • Our Wildlife

      Dolphins, whales and more >>

  • Top 10 Walks

    View our top 10 walks >>

  • Top 10 Activities

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