A Guide for Bay of Islands Tourists place and Visa Information
The Bay of Islands is a stunningly beautiful tourist destination located in the far north of New Zealand's North Island. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, attracting visitors with its warm climate, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking natural beauty.
Visitors to the Bay of Islands can enjoy a range of activities, including sailing, fishing, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife spotting. The area is also rich in history, with significant Maori cultural sites and early European settlements to explore. Whether you're seeking adventure or relaxation, the Bay of Islands is a must-visit destination.
Before you plan your trip to the Bay of Islands, you'll need to make sure you have the appropriate visa to enter New Zealand. Most visitors will need a tourist visa, which allows you to stay in the country for up to three months.
To apply for a tourist visa, you'll need to provide several documents, including:
- A valid passport that's valid for at least three months beyond your planned departure date from New Zealand
- A completed application form
- Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay
- A return ticket or evidence of onward travel
In addition to these requirements, some visitors may need to provide additional documentation depending on their country of origin, travel history, and other factors. You can find more information about visa requirements and the application process on the New Zealand immigration website.
Getting to the Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is located approximately 240 kilometers north of Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. The easiest way to reach the area is by car, although you can also take a bus or fly into the local airport.
If you're driving, you'll need to take State Highway 1 north from Auckland, then turn off onto State Highway 11 at Kawakawa. This will take you directly to Paihia, the main tourist hub of the Bay of Islands. The drive takes approximately three hours, although it can take longer during peak holiday periods.
If you prefer not to drive, there are several bus companies that operate regular services to the Bay of Islands from Auckland and other major cities. The trip takes approximately four hours and offers stunning views of the New Zealand countryside.
If you're short on time, you can also fly into Kerikeri Airport, which is located approximately 20 kilometers from Paihia. Several airlines offer flights from major cities in New Zealand, including Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.
Things to Do in the Bay of Islands
Once you arrive in the Bay of Islands, you'll find plenty of things to see and do. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds: This historic site marks the location where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori chiefs and the British Crown in 1840. Visitors can explore the treaty house, Maori meeting house, and the beautifully landscaped grounds.
- Take a dolphin or whale watching tour: The Bay of Islands is home to a variety of marine life, including bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, and orca. You can take a boat tour to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures.
- Go sailing or kayaking: The sheltered waters of the Bay of Islands are perfect for sailing and kayaking. You can rent a boat or kayak and explore the many islands, bays, and coves at your own pace.
- Visit Russell: This charming town was the first European settlement in New Zealand and is home to a number of historic buildings and museums. You can also take a ferry from Paihia to Russell and enjoy the scenic ride across the bay.
- Explore the Puketi Forest: This ancient kauri forest is home to some of the largest and oldest trees in New Zealand
and offers excellent hiking opportunities. You can take a guided tour or explore on your own along the many walking tracks.
- Visit the Hole in the Rock: This natural wonder is located on Motukokako Island and is accessible by boat. You can take a tour and sail through the hole for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Relax on the beach: The Bay of Islands is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand. You can soak up the sun and enjoy the stunning scenery at Paihia Beach, Te Ti Beach, or any of the other nearby beaches.
- Learn about Maori culture: The Bay of Islands is steeped in Maori history and culture. You can visit the Maori Cultural Centre in Paihia and learn about traditional Maori customs, arts, and crafts.
- Go fishing: The Bay of Islands is a world-renowned fishing destination, with a range of fish species to catch, including snapper, kingfish, and marlin. You can book a fishing charter and spend a day out on the water.
Where to Stay in the Bay of Islands
There are plenty of accommodation options in the Bay of Islands to suit all budgets and preferences. Here are a few of the most popular options:
- Hotels and motels: There are several hotels and motels in Paihia and the surrounding area, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury. Many offer stunning ocean views and are within walking distance of the town's restaurants, shops, and attractions.
- Bed and breakfasts: For a more personal touch, you can stay at one of the many bed and breakfasts in the Bay of Islands. These offer a cozy and comfortable alternative to larger hotels.
- Holiday homes and apartments: If you're traveling with a group or family, you may want to consider renting a holiday home or apartment. These offer more space and privacy and often come with amenities like a kitchen and laundry facilities.
- Campgrounds and holiday parks: For budget-conscious travelers, there are several campgrounds and holiday parks in the Bay of Islands. These offer basic facilities like showers and toilets and are located in some of the most beautiful spots in the area.
The Bay of Islands is a stunningly beautiful and culturally rich destination that should be on every traveler's bucket list. Whether you're seeking adventure or relaxation, there's something for everyone in this beautiful corner of New Zealand. With its warm climate, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking natural beauty, the Bay of Islands is truly a must-visit destination.