Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is the major tourist region in the North Island, and one of the most popular destinations in all of New Zealand. Obviously one will notice its beauty immediately once you see mile after mile of beach and rock coastline surrounding a bay dotted with 144 islands – a dazzling, sparkling world of blue and green. The Bay of Islands is a popular getaway for New Zealanders, who come here for big-game fishing and to sail among the various coves and islands. But countless activities in the Bay of Islands are geared towards backpackers, from affordable cruises and fishing trips to sea kayaking and excursions where you can swim with dolphins. The Bay of Islands is one of the easiest and most rewarding places to travel in New Zealand.
- Hostel Prices: Dorms room cost between $15-20 USD while private rooms cost between $45-60 USD. All the hostels in Paihia (the main town) are located on one main street.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Many prices are seasonal ranging from $55-160 per rom depending on when you go. Except the higher range during January (peak summer) or other summer months.
- Cost of Food: Meals at most restaurants will cost around $20. Meals at some of the nicer restaurants will cost you around $30-40 USD, including wine. If you choose to cook your food, plan to spend about $33-50 USD per week. There are also some cheap pizza and fish and chip shops around town that will cost around $6.
- Transportation Costs: Ferries operate between Paihia and Russell. The 15 minute trip costs $5 each way and departs every half hour. To get to the Bay of Islands, buses run frequently from Auckland with fares as little as $.75 USD if you book early. If you don’t, fares are typically around $8 for a single journey ticket.
Top Things to Do
- The beach – The bay of islands is a perfect destination for the beach. There are beautiful beaches through the bay, many of them are very secluded too. During the summer months, you’ll be hard pressed to find space as the beaches fill up quickly. (They aren’t that long).
- Horseback Riding – If you’ve ever wanted to horseback ride along the sand while listening to the roar of the waves, here’s you chance. Horseback riding is a popular activity here and many go out during sunset.
- Go sailing – Sailing is another popular adventure here. There are many sailboats in the area. Expect to spend around $65 USD for a day trip.
- Hiking – With such beautiful scenery and perfect weather, you will find a top selection of guided walks, hiking and tramping options to absorb some of the country’s spectacular environment.
- Dolphin Watching - Explore the bay and swim with dolphins, which seems to be the biggest draw here. it costs extra to swim with dolphins. These tours are about $75 USD to start, but dolphin swimming costs $25 USD extra.
- Go Scuba Diving - The area has some of the best scuba diving in the country. Beautiful coral gardens, blue waters, and tons of healthy reefs and fish life fill the area. You can take a PADI course here too.
- Waitangi Treaty Ground – The Waitangi Grounds give a unique and fascinating insight into New Zealand’s historic past. New Zealand’s most significant document, The Treaty of Waitangi, was first signed here in 1840 betweenMaori chiefs and the British and became the basis for life in New Zealand as it is known today.
- Get cheap bus fare – New Zealand’s two main coach operators have cheap fares for travelers who are organized enough to book ahead. InterCity also has the advantage of no booking fee (Naked Bus charges $1), but once the bargain $1 fares have been sold Naked Bus still works out at around half the price of InterCity.
- Cook your food – The Bay of Islands is a upscale beach area with many expensive homes and restaurants. Eating out will really hurt your budget more so than in other places of New Zealand.