10 Great Bay of Islands Walks

Get out into the great outdoors


Opua Forest Paihia Lookout

This short walk is very close and convenient to central Paihia. Stroll along a well-maintained track through wetlands before climbing up through regenerated native forest to a lookout point high over Paihia’s township. Keep an eye out for native birdlife as you travel! The lookout is a great place to get your bearings in the Bay of Islands, with stunning views from Opua out towards Waitangi and Paihia, over to Russell and out across the Bay. This walk is a good option for visitors with limited time.

START POINT: School Road, Paihia, 700m from the Paihia township
LENGTH: 1.5km
TIME: 1 hour return


Coastal Walkway - Paihia to Opua, Okiato to Russell

The Full Circle Coastal Walkway encompasses walking sections from Paihia to Opua and Okiato to Russell across the Bay, joined by ferry services. Explore a range of landscapes, from beaches and estuaries to dense bush and hilly terrain with harbour views. Along the way you’ll see historic points of interest, as well as vineyards, oyster farms and native birdlife.

A reasonable level of fitness is required for some sections. You can complete the whole walk or choose sections to suit the time you have available and your fitness level. A map with the sections marked out can be picked up at the local i-SITE.

START POINT: Paihia, Russell or any point in between
LENGTH: Approximately 14km total
TIME: 5.5 to 6 hours total

Flagstaff Hill Loop

This is a great option if you’ve arrived in Russell via passenger ferry. At low tide, start by walking around the rocks from the northern end of Kororareka Bay to Watering Bay, where a marked track leads through bush to Titore Way. 300 metres along on the right another track leads to the summit of Flagstaff Hill (Te Maiki). At high tide, skip the rocks and start on Wellington Street. Visit the famous flagstaff, chopped down four times by Māori in opposition to British rule. Drink in 360-degree views of the Bay of Islands and stroll over to the centennial sundial. The Russell mini-tour also visits Flagstaff Hill.

START POINT: The Strand, Russell
LENGTH: 2.5km loop
TIME: 30 minutes

Long Beach

Long Beach (Oneroa) is a beautiful swimming beach within easy walking distance of the town. The quickest route is the Long Beach Walkway, a paved walking track which starts on Long Beach Road and leads over the hill to the northern end of Oneroa. The Russell mini-tour also visits Long Beach.

START POINT: Long Beach Road, Russell
LENGTH: Approximately 1.5km
TIME: Approximately 20 minutes one way

'Lover’s Leap at Tapeka Point is a bit of a hike, but you can take a picnic, sit right at the top and watch the boats come and go. On a beautiful day it’s just the best place.' - Tammy, Skipper

Haruru Falls

Starting at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, this walkway follows the Waitangi River through native bush, before running along a boardwalk through a mature mangrove forest. Haruru in te reo Māori means ‘roar’ or ‘rumble’ – listen for the thunder of water on rocks as you near the end. Enjoy the view as water cascades down the horseshoe-shaped falls and into the basin below – once the site of New Zealand’s first river port.

We recommend returning along the same route, as the road from Haruru Falls has no footpath and is not suitable for pedestrians.

START POINT: Waitangi Treaty Grounds
TIME: 2.5 hours one way

Kerikeri River Track and Rainbow Falls

Starting at the historic Stone Store and Mission House in the Kerikeri Basin, this walking track follows the banks of the Kerikeri River up to the Wharepuke and Rainbow Falls. Listen out for the sound of native birds like tui or fantails as you walk through native bush. There are viewing platforms at the top of the falls where you can take a snapshot – or bring your swimsuit and take a dip in the swimming hole below.

A shorter walk of approximately 400 metres can be taken from the carpark and picnic area at the end of Rainbow Falls Road. This option is wheelchair accessible.

START POINT: Kerikeri Basin Recreation Reserve, off Landing Road, Kerikeri
LENGTH: 3.5km one way
TIME: Approximately 1.5 hours one way


This walk on the Purerua Peninsula, just 30 minutes north of the Bay of Islands, takes you through a mix of farmland and bush to the white sand beach of Taronui Bay. There is no vehicle access to Taronui. Access is by foot only, available from Taronui to Tapuaetahi Beach at low tide. Signs and orange warratahs mark the route.

START POINT: From State Highway 10 turn off on to Kapiro Road, then Purerua Road, then Hewitt Road
LENGTH: 3.7km one way
TIME: Approximately 45-60 minutes one way

'I like to do the Rainbow Falls walk because you see two waterfalls and a lot of birdlife. It's nice to get away from it all.' - Ross, Crew member


Visit the breathtaking Whangamumu harbour and tread the path of the early 20th century whalers. The track will take you through wetlands and coastal forest, over a ridge to a pristine sandy beach. Take a picnic and your swimsuit to make a day of it.

START POINT: Signposted from the Rawhiti-Ngaiotonga Road, 28km from Russell
LENGTH: 4.2km one way
TIME: 1 hour one way

Urupukapuka Island

Take an archaeological walk around beautiful Urupukapuka Island and discover evidence of a thriving Māori community that once lived here. Pass through wetlands, home to endangered native birds like the brown teal and dotterel, see the remains of fortified Māori villages, and enjoy native forest and stunning views around the Bay of Islands. This walk is divided into two 2.5 hour sections – a map and information can be obtained from the DOC website. You can schedule your walk to coincide with our daily dolphin watching cruises which stop on the island, or make your own way there.

START POINT: Otehei Bay, Urupukapuka Island
LENGTH: 7.3 km
TIME: 5-6 hours

Cape Brett Walkway

A high level of fitness is needed for this walk, which will reward you with fantastic views of the Bay of Islands. There are many bluffs and steep cliffs that require extreme caution when tramping to the lighthouse. The track travels along the ridge of the cape to the lighthouse at its end.

Be prepared to stay the night in the DOC hut which needs to be booked in advance. A track fee must be paid for the portion of track on private land. Track and hut fees can be paid at the Paihia i-SITE. A water taxi is available from Russell and Paihia. By land the track begins from Oke Bay.

START POINT: Oke Bay, Rawhiti, 26km from Russell
LENGTH: 16.3km
TIME: 8 hours one way