The Bay of Islands offers some of the best beaches and coastal scenery in New Zealand, and Paihia is at the heart of it all. Just a three-hour drive from Auckland, this bustling little town is your gateway to the Hole in the Rock, sand-boarding experiences, scenic flights and skydiving. And if adventure isn’t your thing, get engrossed in the local culture and history instead!
Hit the Trails at Waitangi Mountain Bike Park
The Waitangi Mountain Bike Park has some of the most scenic trails in the world looking out over the Bay of Islands. It’s the perfect all-round option for biking any time of year and has a great mix of hardcore and easy trails suitable for the whole family.
Designed by Jeff Carter from Southstar Trails (think Redwoods in Rotorua), the network has grown rapidly over the past couple of years to more than 50km of trail with plenty of fast, flowing berms, rollers and jumps, along with cross country circuits also.
Skydive Bay of Islands
Experience the 144 islands of the Bay of Islands from the air, as you jump from a perfectly good plane. Going skydiving is an awesome way to experience the scenery while filling your tank with pure adrenaline. Skydive Bay of Islands offers four skydive heights – 9,000 ft, 12,000 ft, 16,500 ft and of course, NZ's highest skydive at 20,000 ft! It’s not quite the limits of outer space, but you’ll reach speeds of up to 200km per hour for almost 85 seconds – an experience that’s out of this world.
Explore the Far North
Heed adventure’s call and experience New Zealand’s Far North with Explore Group’s Dune Rider. Travel in their purpose built off-road coach without skipping the comfort of air-conditioning, panoramic windows, reclining seats and plenty of leg room.
Heading north from Paihia, enjoy personal and hilarious stories from your driver and guide, visit the 45,000-year-old Kauri-carved staircase, drive along Ninety Mile Beach and admire the endless stretches of unpopulated coastline before body-boarding down the Te Paki sand dunes. Witness the Tasman Sea collide with the Pacific Ocean at the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, the northernmost tip of New Zealand, before travelling back to Paihia.
Grab a Bite at Charlotte’s Kitchen
Charlotte’s Kitchen has got to be the best dining option in Paihia, with incredible views from their location at the end of the wharf. Their daring and slightly naughty menu is inspired by tales of Charlotte Badger – said to be one of the first white women settlers in New Zealand. After a journey of thievery, penal sentencing and then servantry aboard a ship called The Venus, she incited a mutiny aboard the Venus and set sail to New Zealand, or so the rumours go. How she convinced the men to do such a deed - you can only imagine! Take in the slightly sassy vibe, and time your visit with live local music every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Take a Scenic Flight to ‘Hole in the Rock’
For many years visitors have travelled to the Hole in the Rock by boat, viewing the unique landscape by water and learning of its cultural and ecological significance. Now, with formal blessing from Motu Kokako Ahuwhenua Trust, you can experience it up close and on foot, by taking a scenic flight with Salt Air and landing on their exclusive helipad on top of the island.
Very few people in history, including Maori, have ever ventured on the island in this way before. Being surrounded by steep cliffs (over 150 metres high) and stunning scenery looking towards Cape Brett and its surroundings, this unique location will no doubt appeal to the adventurous. Be hosted by a local Maori Guide, hear stories from the area and soak in views rarely experienced by other tourists.
Experience New Zealand’s History at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Discover the story of New Zealand’s history, where two different cultures come together as one under the Treaty of Waitangi.
Waitangi is one of New Zealand's most significant historic sites, and marks where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the British Crown and New Zealand’s Maori people. The treaty agreed the terms by which New Zealand would become a British colony.
Today the Treaty Grounds offer the opportunity to learn about Maori culture and learn about the historical events associated with the signing of the treaty. Visit the Treaty house, a fully carved marae (Maori meeting house), enjoy some kapa haka – traditional performing arts and check out one of the largest Maori war canoes in the country.
Want to see the Treaty of Waitangi Grounds from a totally different perspective? Just upgrade your Skydive Bay of Islands experience as part of the Moana Package – this alternative landing option at the grounds is right up there for once in a lifetime.