The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand’s most culturally significant regions.

With its significant Maori cultural artefacts, pristine beaches, myriad natural wonders, and great fishing spots, you won't want to miss this naturally beautiful getaway in New Zealand's North Island. Along with experiencing the stunning scenery (and weather) on our Bay of Islands tours and holidays, explore forests full of ancient kauri trees and clear blue lakes to marveling at mystical waterfalls and caves filled with glow worms. You can also visit the Waitangi Treaty grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi between Māori and the British Crown was signed in 1840. Some of the best Bay of Islands activities include canoeing, kayaking, and cruising through the Hole in the Rock, a natural rock formation created by wind and waves. For a more relaxing cruise, take a day trip to Poor Knights Islands where you can snorkel, swim, kayak or just sit back and relax on deck, watching the ‘fish cam’ to see what’s going on beneath the boat.

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Bay of Islands Highlights

Hole in the Rock in New Zealand

Hole in the Rock cruise

Keep an eye out for dolphins and other marine life on the way to Cape Brett and the famous Hole in the Rock on a scenic cruise like no other. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself holding your breath as your captain lines up the ship and it slips through the narrow gap so you’re surrounding by soaring rock walls. You’ll also have time for a stop at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island where you can go for a walk up to the top of a hill for great views across the entire Bay of Islands region.

Glow worm cave at Waitomo

Kawiti glow worm caves

Visit the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves to explore a hidden world of unusual rock formations and thousands of luminous creatures. Discovered in the 17th century by the chieftainess of the Maori tribe Ngati Hine, the caves are still run by her direct descendants today. Take a guided tour through the 200m cave system and marvel at the hundreds of glow worms that call this cave home. Look closely and you’ll be able to see the bodies of the glow worms and their stunning blue/green tail lights.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Maori first came to New Zealand via Polynesia around 1,000 years ago and their social, cultural and spiritual traditions continue to shape New Zealand’s national identity. Gain a deeper understanding of the Maori legacy by visiting the Waitangi Historic Reserve. On this site, the British Crown recognized Maori ownership of their lands in 1840 and gave the Maori rights as British subjects. Explore the museum, watch a cultural performance, and see a traditional waka taua (Maori war canoe).

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

Take in the beauty of the mystical Rainbow Falls on the Kerikeri River. Not only is this waterfall stunning to look at, it’s also easy to reach via a 400m boardwalk. There are three viewing platforms at the top of Rainbow Falls. You can also take in the falls from the bottom where the water falls into the pool. If you don’t mind getting wet, it’s also possible to walk behind the waterfall. Listen out for the tui bird as you’re strolling around the falls as they can often be heard calling to each other here.

Haruru Falls

Haruru Falls

One of the many highlights of the Bay of Islands is visiting Haruru Falls. The word ‘Haruru’ means ‘big noise’ and that is what you will hear as you approach this wide, five-metre high waterfall. You’re paddling peacefully down the Waitangi River and then all of a sudden you’re getting a very loud and all-consuming cold shower. It can take a bit of manoeuvring to get under the spray, so make sure you get the how-to from your tour guide. This is a great activity to share with friends.

Poor Knights Islands

Bay of Islands scenic cruise

Off the shores of the Tutukaka coast you’ll find the Poor Knights Islands, a rugged series of islets with a history stretching back 11 million years. On a full-day Bay of Islands scenic cruise, you’ll have the chance to snorkel, swim, kayak, explore ancient caves and learn about the geological and natural history of the islands. It’s not uncommon to spot marine life from the boat, including dolphins and whales. If you’d prefer to put your feet up today, the boat is kitted out with plenty of seating and viewing areas.

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