If you’re looking for the ultimate New Zealand bucket list, look no further than Paihia. This little town on the north island has something for everyone, from stunning natural scenery to world-class outdoor adventures. Not only is it one of the best places in New Zealand to stop on a road trip, but it’s home to some of the most picturesque peaks, exotic wildlife, and rich culture.
If you’re thinking of visiting Paihia, (which you should be), you’re in for a treat!
There are so many things to do and see in this beautiful town, that it can be tough to know where to start. From hiking and swimming to biking and kayaking, there are enough activities to last you a lifetime in this town!
Paihia may be a small island town, but it packs a big punch when it comes to activities and sights to see here. It’s hands down one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand and definitely one of my favorites.
I’ve put together a list of the 30 best things to do in Paihia to help you plan your trip. Trust me, you’re going to want to add all of these things to your New Zealand itinerary.
Things to do in Paihia, New Zealand
1. Hole in the Rock cruise
Without a doubt, one of the most popular attractions in Paihia is a cruise out to the iconic Hole in the Rock (pictured above) formation at Motukokako Island. Not only is this rock formation super cool, but there is nothing quite like seeing Paihia from the stunning blue water – especially from the deck of a luxury catamaran!
On the cruise, you’ll get to go right through the middle of the hole on the boat, showcasing your captain’s impressive driving skills. Keep an eye out for dolphins and other wildlife in the area too!
The Hole in the Rock cruise features commentary in English so you can learn about the history of the area and Maori legend about the rock itself. Additional activities included in the tour are seeing the lighthouse and the Grand Cathedral Cave.
Guests can enjoy the tour from inside or outside seating. The catamaran tour lasts for 4 and a half to 5 hours, so make sure you bring sunscreen! While food and drink are not included in the price, you will be able to grab food in either Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island. Tickets start from $135 NZD per person, with pick-up points at both Paihia and Russell.
2. Visit craft breweries
Your trip to Paihia will be incomplete without tasting the local craft beer. The area is famous for its breweries, and drinking fresh local beers is the perfect way to relax in the hot summer sun.
Thirty30 Craft Beer Bar is one of the cool places to sit and enjoy your drinks. They offer comfortable indoor and outdoor sitting for the customers and a variety of drinks. Their Ginger Beer tastes delicious and is worth a try.
PhatHouse Brewing Co. is another excellent place for those who love to nibble great pizzas with yummy beers. If you plan to visit them, don’t forget to try their Pale Ale!
If you take your beers seriously then you must book the Bay of Islands Craft Beer Tour from Paihia. On this tour, you’ll get to enjoy a tour that not only includes tasting plenty of beer types and flavors along with a great lunch at an affordable price. Transport is included so you can drink as much as you want without worrying about having to drive! Tickets for this tour start at $135 NZD per person.
3. Chase waterfalls
The peace and tranquility of being around waterfalls is like nothing else. Luckily, some of the main attractions in Paihia are the most beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand!
While there are a few different waterfalls near Paihia, some are more accessible than others. Rainbow Falls and Wharepuke Falls are found at the end of an easy walking trail called the Kerikeri River walking track. From the parking lot at The Stone Store in Kerikeri, the furthermost waterfall, Rainbow Falls, is a 1-hour hike each way or an 8.2-kilometer (5.1 miles) walk return.
Visitors can drive to the area and park in the historic Stone Store car park and then take the trails to the falls of their choice. Unlike other Paihia activities, this area hasn’t been changed for tourism. There isn’t a coffee shop or souvenir in sight, just unspoiled nature and breathtaking scenery!
Another waterfall worth visiting is Haruru Falls, located only a short drive from Pahia in the town of Haruru. To visit this waterfall, just drive out to the parking lot and enjoy – no hike required!
For those who don’t have their own vehicle in Paihia, you can book tours that will take you to the falls as well as to other Paihia attractions. This specific 4-hour private tour is super flexible and allows guests to help pick the attractions they want to visit from a huge list. This includes waterfalls, glow worm caves, and more. Relax in an air-conditioned vehicle and enjoy the convenience of a pickup and drop-off location of your choice.
4. Bay of Islands Farmer Market
The Bay of Islands Farmers Market is more than just a place to buy some fruits and vegetables. The weekly market has that wonderful community atmosphere and showcases amazing produce grown and made by local farmers.
Add the market to your ‘Things to do in Paihia’ list and grab some lunch as you wander the stalls. Pick up a locally roasted coffee or freshly squeezed juice as you soak up the smell of fresh bread. The array of homemade sweets and treats will tempt you, and the artisan vibe will make you wish you had more hands to carry home all these goodies.
This all-weather community event is hosted in two locations; Thursday afternoon 12:30 – 3:30 pm in Paihia or Sunday morning from 8:30 am to 12 pm in Kerikeri. Both locations have parking on-site or close to the market with mobility access, and your dog is welcome too, provided they are kept on a leash.
5. Hike the Cape Brett Walkway
The Cape Brett Walkway is one of the most popular hikes in Pahia. It’s a moderate, 16-kilometer (9.9-mile) hike that offers incredible views of the Bay of Islands. The walkway takes you past rugged cliffs, stunning ocean views, and lush vegetation.
The hike takes around eight hours to complete. It is recommended for experienced hikers only, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re up for the challenge!
Cape Brett Hut, which is the hike’s endpoint, offers excellent views and a chance to relax after your hike. It’s equipped with over 20 bunk beds, toilets, a water supply, and a cooktop – perfect for an overnight stay.
A night at Cape Brett hut will cost you $15 NZD per night for adults and $7.50 per night for children between ages 11-17. All children 10 years old and under can enjoy their stay for free!
Bookings are open for stays from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023.
It’s best to book your stay at Cape Brett Hut online in advance, as spots tend to fill up quickly. In-person bookings are possible, but it is dependent on there being space available. In addition, a $10 NZD service fee applies to phone and in-person booking.
So be sure to reserve your spot before you go!
Important Note: Between Rawhiti and Deep Water Cove, crosses private land so you must pay a fee that is used to maintain this section of the track. It costs $40 NZD for adults and $20 NZD for children. However, there is no fee if hiking the public land section between Deep Water Cove and Cape Brett.
6. Visit a winery or three!
Paihia, New Zealand is home to some award-winning wineries. If you’re looking to sample some local wine, a visit to a winery is the perfect option!
There are several wineries in the area, each with its own unique story and offerings. Omata Estate Vineyard & Kitchen is set atop a hill overlooking the stunning Bay of Islands and offers wine tastings and cellar door sales. Winery tours are also available.
Paroa Bay Winery is another winery worth visiting near Paihia. This family-owned and operated winery produces a variety of wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Paroa Bay Winery offers wine tastings and sales, as well as a cafe serving lunch and light snacks.
If you want to explore more than one winery while in Paihia, take a Bay of Islands wine tour and learn about the history of the wine industry in New Zealand. This guided wine trail starts at $155 NZD per person and takes you to two different family-owned vineyards in the area, each with its own unique style and charm.
On this tour, you’ll learn about the wine-making process, taste some delicious organically-made wine, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how these vineyards operate. Lunch is also provided, so you can enjoy a relaxed meal surrounded by stunning scenery.
7. Day trip to Russel
The old historic town of Russel is one place you shouldn’t miss while in New Zealand! Russel is one of the earliest English establishments in the country, and it’s full of beautiful old buildings and stunning views. Take a ferry ride over to Russel and explore this quaint little town for a day. While strolling around the town, you can appreciate the old architecture and history beside plenty of nature and wildlife.
Having lunch at the Duke of Marlborough, visiting the first church in New Zealand with its walls still bearing the signs of war between Maoris and the British, and trying the hot chocolate are just some of the fun things to do while visiting Russel. The Durhamayship Museum, which houses a history lesson for all ages from early settlers to modern-day events; plus plenty more treasures like Maori artwork and architecture make Russel an absolute must-see destination.
You can hop on the passenger ferry at Paihia Wharf to get to Russel. The return tickets cost $14 NZD for adults, and the shuttle service operates between 7 am to 10 pm. If you want to take your car along, drive to Opua and take the Vehicle ferry to get to Okiato, which is about 10 minutes drive from Russel. The cost for this is $16 NZD for a standard vehicle.
Related Read: Need some wheels. Learn about the best motorhome rentals in Auckland!
As an adventurous girl myself, I love all kinds of outdoor activities, and the stand-up paddleboard was one of my all-time favorite things to do in Paihia, New Zealand. Here you will find many different options for beach activities that are all absolutely fantastic! But the SUP is definitely my top-1 option.
You can rent a SUP on your own if you have had previous experience with paddle boarding. Or you can hire a teacher if you’re a beginner. Renting a SUP costs around $25 NZD an hour and each lesson starts at $49 NZD. You can find a rental (with optional lessons) at 9 Marsden Road, Bay of Islands, Paihia, which opens at 9 am.
If you’re not as adventurous on your own (trust me, I totally get it!), you can also choose this cruise and paddleboarding/kayaking tour that spends 40 minutes out on the boat before getting to paddle out to waterfalls! This tour is still rather affordable for just $78 NZD per adult.
Or go on a cruise that includes SUP and other activities in case you don’t want to paddleboard the entire time. You will spend the day exploring more than 144 islands in the Bay of Islands, starting at the Twin Lagoons. The SUP will be given to you at the second stop.
The cruise parts from Marsden Road, Paihia, where you have to check in at 9:45 am. While the plan includes morning coffee, tea, and some refreshments, you will have to take your own lunch and beverages for the day. Believe me when I tell you you will get hungry with all the paddling, swimming and walking!
Prices go from $120 NZD a person for a full day. My friendly advice is you book online to get the best price.
9. Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
If you’re visiting Paihia, then a trip to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a must. The Treaty Grounds are where the historic Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, which promised to protect Maori culture and rights in New Zealand. Today, the treaty grounds are a popular tourist attraction, and there’s plenty to see and do there.
Here you can learn about the history of the Treaty of Waitangi and its importance to New Zealand, see traditional Maori carving and pou (pole) displays, and enjoy a wide range of activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and sailing. The grounds also feature a marae (traditional Maori meeting house), and visitors can participate in a traditional Maori welcome ceremony. In addition, there are several walking trails on the grounds, and visitors can also enjoy a meal at one of the on-site cafes.
I loved walking through the grounds and learning about the history of the Treaty of Waitangi. The grounds are absolutely beautiful, and there’s so much to see and do! If you’re interested in learning about Maori culture or New Zealand history, then this is definitely the place to go!
You can explore the grounds yourself, but I recommend a guided tour to get the most out of the experience. With this day pass ticket, you can visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to learn about the document that forged New Zealand’s history.
Your day pass includes a skip-the-line pass to the Grounds, a guided tour, an introductory film, and a cultural performance. You can also explore the grounds on your own and take in the beautiful scenery. The pass is valid for two consecutive days, so you can come back and experience everything the grounds have to offer! You can book tickets in advance here.
10. Go on an island-hopping cruise
The popular destination of Paihia has earned the title “The Gateway to the Bay of Islands.” This picturesque bay boasts 144 lush islands surrounded by ocean blue tones. There is an abundance of wildlife, marine life, and rare bird species.
For this reason, the best way to fully absorb this bay’s beauty is to hop onto a modern catamaran and experience one of the main activities in Paihia. Not literally, but an island hopping cruise is sure to blow you away! Choose between a 3-hour cruise or a 5-hour version will give you more time to try more of the activity options.
Both tours are very similar and you can expect to be taken out by your friendly hosts to two remote islands around the bay.
Choose one or several of the activities which include swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding, or a short hike. The ocean is there to cool off if you just feel the need to unwind. I was impressed with the geography and history knowledge shared by the hosts.
The 5-hour tour departs at 10 am or 10:30 am. Current rates are $125 NZD per adult, including transportation, activities, and morning tea or coffee. You can also have lunch brought to you if you pre-order it!
The 3-hour cruise departs in the afternoon at 3:30 pm or 4 pm. Current rates are $91 NZD per adult including transportation and activities (no tea or coffee on this one). Families are also welcome!
Undoubtedly, of all the many things to do in Paihia, either island-hopping cruise is a must-do!
11. See glow worms
The Kawiti Caves (aka the Waiomio Caves) is one of the most well-known glow worm caves in the Bay of Islands area and one of the best places to see glow worms in NZ. The cave is famous for displaying stunning glowworms, rock formations, and lush green rainforest situated right at the end heart of the Waiomio Valley.
If you like to explore, Kawiti Caves is the right place to go. You will tour through a 200-meter cave via a wooden boardwalk, where you get to enjoy the sight of glowworms in their galaxies.
The Kawiti Caves are located only 20 minutes from Paihia so you can visit the caves on your own if you have a rental car. The entrance fee costs $40 NZD for adults and $20 NZD for children and this includes a guided tour of the caves. They also have a family pass for $100 NZD.
If you would like to go on a guided tour of the caves and check out other Paihia attractions consider joining this top-rated Bay of Islands highlights tour. The guided tour will take you not only to the caves but also to other must-see attractions near Paihia such as Haruru Falls, Makana Chocolate Boutique, and the Manginangina Kauri Walk.
The tour takes approximately 6 hours and hotel pickup is offered for free from anywhere in Paihia.
Related Read: If you are planning to drive to any glow worm caves, check out our helpful tips for renting a car in New Zealand!
One of the best things to do in the picturesque town of Paihia is to go parasailing! Not only is it a great way to get a bird’s-eye view of the stunning scenery, but it’s also an adrenaline-pumping activity that’s perfect for thrill-seekers.
When you go parasailing in Paihia, you’ll be harnessed to a parachute and towed behind a boat as you soar through the air. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see for miles in all directions, making it an ideal activity for sightseeing. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some dolphins or whales swimming below. Be prepared for an exhilarating experience as you soar through the air!
This parasailing experience is a great option for those in Paihia seeking an adrenaline rush. The tour costs $105 NZD per person and will last for about an hour and a half. The main departure and return point for this tour is at Pahia wharf, and you’ll have to arrive there 15 minutes before the tour starts to check in with the staff. There are also pick-up points along the way in Russel and Waitangi as well, so you can easily hop on board if you’re staying in one of those cities.
This tour is a really popular choice here in Paihia (especially in the summer months!) so we recommend booking in advance to ensure you’ll get a spot here.
13. Bay of Islands Coastline Walk
The Bay of Islands Coastline Walk follows the coast all the way from the town of Paihia to Russel (or vice versa). This gorgeous hike passes a section of the Bay of Islands, along beaches and bays, and through beautiful reserves.
Hiking the full trip involves starting at Paihia and walking along the shore to Opua where you’ll catch the ferry to Okiato. From Okiato, you’ll walk through stunning reserves and beaches before finally reaching Russell. From Russel, you can catch the ferry back to Paihia.
All up, the entire loop should take around 8 hours including time to travel on the two ferries required to make the full loop. Although long, the trail is flat so it’s rated as easy. You can also choose to only hike one-half of the trail such as the most popular section from Paihia to Opua, called the Paihia to Opua Walkway. With that said, the full loop is well worth your time.
Related Read: Opua is one of the best stops on the drive from Auckland to Paihia in the Bay of Islands.
14. Fish and chips at the beach for sunset
I’m not gonna lie – the fish and chips here are some of the best I’ve ever had. They’re battered and fried to perfection, and the chips are crispy and delicious. And the best place to eat? On the beach at sunset, of course! The views are stunning, and you can watch the waves crashing against the shore.
I still remember the first time I tried the fish and chips here – I was sitting on the beach watching as the sun slowly started to dip below the horizon. The sky was a beautiful orange, and the stars were just starting to come out. I had been walking around all day, exploring Paihia and all it had to offer – I had already gone swimming, kayaking, and hiking that day, and I was so ready to relax! As I sat there, I noticed a small store off nearby selling fish and chips. I decided to get some and take them down to the beach to eat while we watched the sunset.
The fish and chips were delicious! The fish was fresh and crispy, and the chips were golden brown. I dipped them in vinegar and ate them as I watched the sun disappear into the ocean. It was truly a perfect end to a perfect day. If you’re ever in Paihia, make sure to get some fish and chips from the same store I did, Oceans 68 Fish & Chips.
15. Walk to the top of Flagstaff Hill
Flagstaff Hill is an iconic landmark located in Russel, and it’s definitely worth the walk to the top. It’s a short but steep walk, and when you get to the top you’re rewarded with stunning 360-degree views of Russell, the Bay of Islands, and beyond. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to Cape Reinga! The views from up there are stunning – you can even Paihia in the distance. The walk to the top is pretty easy, and it takes about 20-30 minutes depending on your fitness level.
There are a few different routes you can take to get to the top of Flagstaff Hill. There are also some trails that wind their way through the forest, and these are great if you want to add a bit of nature to your walk. Whichever route you choose, make sure to take your time and enjoy the views from the top.
Once you’re at the top of Flagstaff Hill, you’ll be able to see Paihia Beach, the Bay of Islands, and even Russell in the distance. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some dolphins swimming in the bay! Make sure to bring your camera, because this is definitely a view you’ll want to remember.
16. Soak in hot springs
Ngawha Hot Springs is among the top attractions in Paihia. This spring is home to 16 mineral pools with varying degrees of temperature. The best part is that these pools are believed to possess magical restorative energies that instantly relieve aches and calm the body.
Believe me, you’ll fall in love with the Ngawha Springs if you’re a lover of art. The carvings, natural landscape, and mineral water will excite you. It gets better. Preschoolers can enjoy the square pools for free, while primary schoolers pay a fee of $15 NZD, and adults can expect to pay a fee of $34 NZD. There are some exceptions and lower prices for residents living in the surrounding area, depending on which district you live in.
The pools are either dark gray or black. You might also feel that it’s muddy beneath, but it’s nothing to worry about. Although some are smaller than others, the smallest can fit a minimum of four people, and the biggest can fit up to 12.
There’s just one thing you should avoid wearing in the springs— your jewelry. There’s sulfur in the pools, so your jewelry might get ruined. You should keep them at home or remove them when entering any of the thermal pools. Also, you’re only allowed to keep your head above the waters. Submerging is prohibited.
Ngawha Springs is open Thursday to Sunday from 7 am to 9 pm. The distance from Paihia to this popular, yet affordable spring is 37 km (23 miles), which is roughly 32 minutes by car.
17. Go kayaking
Kayaking in Paihia is a must-do activity! The Bay of Islands is made up of 144 different islands, and it’s one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. Kayaking is a great way to explore the bay, and you’ll get to see some amazing scenery up close from your kayak.
You can kayak on your own or take a guided tour. If you prefer to explore alone, you can rent a kayak from one of the many companies in Paihia. I recommend getting a double kayak so you can go with a friend or family member.
Guided tours are a great option if you want to learn more about the area and see some of the best sights. There are plenty of different tour companies to choose from, and they all offer different kayaking experiences. Some tours even include a stop at a remote beach where you can go swimming or relax in the sun.
I recommend doing this Bay of Islands kayak tour. It’s a more unique tour option compared to the other tours because it gives you the choice of a morning, afternoon, or sunset kayak tour. I recommend choosing the sunset tour option – you’ll get to see the Bay of Islands in a whole new light as you paddle through the bay in kayaks while your guide points out all the landmarks and different constellations. You might even have a chance to see some glowworms, which are definitely a highlight of the tour!
The kayak tour is $78 NZD and includes a 40-minute boat tour of the Bay of Islands with an experienced guide who will teach you some history about the area and the Maori culture as you cruise around the Bay. This mini tour is then followed by your kayaking excursion, which will last about an hour and a half before you’re transported back to the pick-up point.
I definitely recommend doing a kayaking tour when you’re in Paihia. It’s such a beautiful place, and there’s no better way to see it than from a kayak.
18. Play a round of golf!
New Zealand is one of the world’s countries famous for golfing, attracting golfers from around the globe. Golfing is one of the Paihia activities that many tourists partake in while on vacation.
Although there are many different golf courses to choose from, the Kauri Cliffs Golf Course is one of the most popular options. This golf course is located in Maturi Bay just a short 45-minute drive from town, and it offers stunning views of the Bay of Islands. The course is made up of six different levels, and it’s considered to be one of the most challenging golf courses in New Zealand.
If you’re looking for an easier game, the Waitangi golf course is a great option. This course is located right in town, and it’s perfect for those who want to fit a game of golf into their busy vacation schedule. The Waitangi Golf Club overlooks the Bay of Islands, and it’s a great place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. The views alone are worth more than any number on your scorecard!
Paihia also has a number of mini-golf courses, which are perfect for families with young children. These courses offer a fun and relaxed game of golf, and they’re a great way to spend some time together as a family. Kerikeri Mini Golf, located about a 30-minute drive from Paihia, is one of the most popular mini-golf courses in the area.
Golfing is a great activity for all ages, and it’s one of the many reasons why Paihia is such a popular vacation destination. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you’ll be able to find a course that’s perfect for you.
19. Drive to the top on NZ – Cape Reinga
One of those things to do in Paihia that you can’t definitely miss is visiting the top of Cape Reinga. I’m not a big fan of long drives, but I promise you this is totally WORTH IT! You can save some time by flying there or you can spend the night at Cape Reinga if possible. You can book a night at Pukenui Lodge Motel, which is 45 min from Cape Reinga. Pukeni Lodge is the closest motel to the Cape. It also provides easy access to Houhora Harbour, so it’s a great base point for exploring New Zealand’s Far North.
Located at the top of the North Island, Cape Reinga is a remote and rugged spot that is well worth the effort to reach. If you’re looking for a unique way to experience the beauty of New Zealand’s Northland region, then a flight tour of Cape Reinga is a must! This is an amazing opportunity to see one of the most beautiful and remote regions in New Zealand. The best way to see it is by combining scenic flights with a driving tour, and that’s exactly what this tour offers.
This Cape Reinga flight tour starts with a 45-minute flight from Paihia, taking in stunning oceanic landscapes along the way. You’ll be able to see some stunning coastal landscapes, including Ninety Mile Beach (one of the best beaches in New Zealand!) Then you’ll also fly inland to the airfield near the Cape Reinga lighthouse, where you’ll begin the second half of the tour exploring by car. Your local guide will take you on a walk to the lighthouse, sharing the myths and legends of this very spiritual area. You’ll enjoy fresh oven-baked treats for morning tea and then rejoin the vehicle to head to Tapotupotu Beach.
After a stroll on the beach, finish with a stop at the Te Paki quicksand stream where you can try to surf down giant sand dunes. On the return 1-hour flight, soar over more spectacular coastal scenery of the North Island and enjoy picturesque views of the Great Exhibition Bay’s pure white silica sand and crystal clear water. Prices for this tour start at $461 NZD per person for a 4.5-hour flight and car tour, guided commentary, snacks and drinks, and time to explore.
This is a really great chance to explore the Northland region and see some incredible scenery. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Cape Reinga, so if you have the means to take this tour, I highly recommend booking in advance!
20. Visit the Parrot Place
If you’re looking for a more unique experience in Paihia, your first stop should be at The Parrot Place! The Parrot Place is a bird display and breeding center located just a short 30-minute drive from Paihia in Kerikeri. This family-friendly attraction is home to more than 300 parrots, and it’s the perfect place to get up close and personal with these beautiful birds.
The parrots here will fly around and even sit on your shoulder, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn about these amazing creatures. The staff is incredibly friendly, and they’re more than happy to take pictures with you and your parrot.
From taking pictures of the vibrant plumage of exotic parrots to having sweets and drinks, the parrot place is a must-see when in Paihia. You can even purchase your own parrot to take home with you! The store is full of different types of parrots, and you can even buy food and toys for them. There’s also a playground on-site, making it the perfect place to spend a day with the family.
The park is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm, but closes one hour earlier on Sundays. On Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day, you will find the park closed. The admission prices are as follows:
- Adult: $14.00 NZD ($9 USD)
- Kid: (under 14 years) $7.00 NZD ($5 USD)
- Family Pass: (2 Adults and up to 2 children) $35 NZD ($22 USD)
Well, if you convince people more than 15 people to go with you; guess what? You will get a group discount however, groups are welcomed through appointments. The Parrot Place is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a unique souvenir, and it’s also a great place to get some photos of Paihia’s vibrant birdlife.
21. Visit Waitangi Mountain Bike Park
With a variety of easy, scenic courses to choose from, Waitangi Mountain Bike Park is a place where you can comfortably start mountain biking. It has 30 trails ranging in difficulty and characteristics, including beginner downhill, jump trails, cross country, and novice routes.
The services available at Waitangi Mountain Bike Park are the following:
- Bike Rental
- Bike Shop
- Skills & Coaching
- Waitangi Mountain Bike Park Café
There are a few different bike options you can choose from here depending on your bike riding experience and comfort level. Choose from a front-suspension bike, a full-suspension bike, or an electric bike. You’ll also be able to choose between a half-day tour or a full-day tour.
Although the park is available every day for riding at any time, the gates officially open at about 7:30 am and close after nightfall. If the gate is locked, you can find a safe place to park and ride in. You need to be cautious while you’re riding at night as they have an active kiwi population.
For further details on rentals, check out the booking page here.
At their in-store shop, they sell basic rider bike tags, trail maps, and WMBP t-shirts and stickers.
22. Wander Willams Road
One of those things you’ll probably find yourself doing while in Paihia is wandering along Williams Road. Visit this main street in town for exclusive boutique shopping followed by a delicious meal at one of the cafes or restaurants.
The boutique shops offer a variety of clothing, jewelry, organic cosmetics, and so much more. Forgot your sunglasses at your accommodation? I often do! Grab a pair while you browse for a trinket or two of memorabilia.
Artwork is a vital part of a country’s heritage, and New Zealand has lots of it. You’ll be captivated by exquisite artworks made by local artists as you walk down this bustling road. The vibrancy of color in some of these pieces is extraordinary! It’s absolutely a must-see for any artist or art collector visiting the area.
Who’s hungry? No matter your taste or diet, there is something for everyone to munch on here on Williams Road. A tantalizing lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants on this road is the perfect way to relax after an epic shopping event. From fresh seafood, Asian-inspired dishes, and Indian infusion to delectable desserts, you’re sure to find a delicious place to eat!
A walk along Williams Road is a chance to meet the friendly locals and explore all this fabulous bay has to offer travelers. It’s a must-visit Paihia attraction, hands down.
23. Eat seafood
New Zealand is famous for its seafood, and Paihia is no exception. This town is located right on the water, so you can be sure that the seafood here is fresh and delicious. There are a number of great restaurants to choose from, but some of the best seafood can be found at Charlotte’s Kitchen.
Charlotte’s Kitchen is a big restaurant with an even bigger reputation. This place brings a social contemporary dining experience to the Bay of Islands and provides a funky fun atmosphere for casual dining and drinking. This gem in Paihia provides stunning waterfront views, and the food is absolutely incredible. The menu changes often, but it always features fresh local seafood. The fish is usually caught early in the morning and delivered to the restaurant later that day. This ensures that you’re getting the freshest seafood possible.
In addition to being delicious, Charlotte’s Kitchen is also affordable. Most of the entrees on the menu are under $20 NZD (outside of the seafood dishes), and the cocktails are only $10 NZD. This is a great place to come for a casual lunch or dinner, and it’s one of the best places in town to enjoy some fresh seafood.
I recommend the Seafood Platter, which includes a variety of fresh seafood including salmon, tuna tataki, oysters, lobster, clams, prawns, and calamari. The platter goes best with a glass of Charlotte’s famous lemonade, and it’s the perfect way to sample a little bit of everything. This dish is usually priced at around $90 NZD, but it’s definitely worth it!
24. Walk to Opua
Another great activity in Paihia, New Zealand, is a coastal walk to Opua. This is a 6 km (3.7-mile) trail that will take you around 2-3 hours to complete (one way). It’s a perfect activity if you want to just walk by the coast, meditate, and get some peace of mind. Opua is a lovely town, and it’s definitely worth the walk.
The trail starts at Paihia Beach and takes you along the coast towards Opua. Along the way, you will enjoy the Veronica Channel view, along with the Russell Peninsular and the Waikare Inlet. The views are absolutely stunning, and you’ll get to see some of New Zealand’s most beautiful coastline. In my opinion, it’s one of the most scenic hikes in New Zealand.
The trail is mostly flat, so it’s not too strenuous, but there are a few hills along the way. And if you have a furry friend: the Paihia-Opua track accepts dogs (though on a leash, of course!). Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, as there are no shops along the trail. There is also no cellphone reception for most of the walk, so make sure to let someone know where you’re going before you start.
25. Jet boating
This adrenaline-pumping and awesomely fun jet boat ride will do more than keep you on your toes! On a jet boat in Paihia, you’ll experience speeds of up to 80 km/hour (50 miles/hr) as you zip through the waters of the Bay of Islands. In addition, you will be in fits of laughter as you scream, twist, and turn on the blue waters. This activity is ideal for kids, but it’s honestly a blast for all ages.
There are a number of different companies that offer jet boat rides in Paihia, but my personal favorite is this Bay of Islands Jet Boat tour. The tour operates on the weekends only and has sessions available at 10 am and 12 pm. Currently, the rate is $78 NZD per adult and includes a life jacket, splash jacket, goggles, and the boat ride. You’ll have to meet at the Paihia Wharf to start this activity, then your jet boat ride will begin! The ride lasts approximately 30 minutes and takes you through the Bay of Islands.
One of the best parts of this activity is that it’s weather-dependent. If the conditions aren’t ideal, then the company will cancel the tour and refund your money. So, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in a bad situation. The jet boat tour in Paihia, New Zealand, is the perfect opportunity for adults with the inner-child syndrome and kids alike.
26. Go on a “Trike” sightseeing tour
Do you wish to explore more things to do in Paihia? How about a sightseeing tour from a tricycle? For a fun-filled and unique experience, visit the Bay of Islands from the seat of a 350 Chevrolet Trike. You can choose from three distinct itineraries, each of which covers some of the area’s must-see attractions, or you can merge them all for a different trip.
Your driver will zip around Paihia on your trike and show you all the best sightseeing spots in the area. You’ll get to see the Bay of Islands from a unique vantage point and take in the sights as the breeze flows through your hair. It’s such a unique experience that I really haven’t seen done anywhere else before. The great thing about this tour is that it’s also wheelchair accessible, so anyone can attend.
This tour offers different packages to choose from, and each has different pricing with variable hours. You can check out the tour packages and book in advance here.
27. Helicopter ride
A helicopter ride is one of the most fun things to do in Paihia, New Zealand. You get to explore the stunning towns of Cape Brett, Russell, and Waitangi from the sky in only 20 minutes! On top of that, a professional pilot narrates the tour for a unique, and more-personalized adventure.
There’s an option to land at the Hole in the Rock, absorb its beauty, and take snapshots of its cliffs. But that’s not all, you can also decide to opt for a stroll with a Maori guide after landing at the Hole in the Rock. If you love learning about histories and cultures, this is your shot to hear historical stories about the Bay of Islands from a local.
Booking prices for this tour start at $266 NZD. Reservations are available online with the option to pay immediately or later. Bookings with a minimum of two persons are confirmed immediately, while solo tourists are subjected to wait-listing.
Helicopter rides take off from Marsden Road in Paihia. It’s advisable to leave your hotel or Airbnb an hour earlier to be sure to get to the meeting point on time and use Google Maps for directions.
28. Bicycle – Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail
For the sporty and outdoorsy type, Paihia is worth exploring on a bicycle. Whether you are an experienced cyclist or someone like me who occasionally likes to ride, Paihia will not fail to surprise you by offering a trail that suits you!
The Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail is a must-do activity in Paihia for the physically fit, but it can also be broken down into shorter sections that are still enjoyable for the average Joe. The full trail is 87 km long (54 miles) and takes anywhere from 2-3 days to complete, depending on your fitness level. It is a shared-use trail, so you will need to be aware of other users such as pedestrians and their dogs.
The Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail is a coastal trail that takes you through some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery. Along the way, you’ll see sandy beaches, coastal forest, and farmland. You might even spot some native wildlife! The trail is relatively flat, so it’s not too challenging. A big part of this track traverses the railway line, saving you from dealing with the unwanted uphill rides on the way.
Paihia – Kerikeri (22 km/13.7 mi) is a perfect trail to immerse yourself in the forest and see the wildlife on the way to Kerikeri. It is an easy/intermediate trail that is best attempted during the summer months. You can start this trail from the Paihia visitor center.
There are a few different companies that offer bike rentals in Paihia, like Paihia Mountain Bikes. Most of them have a wide variety of bikes to choose from at reasonable prices. The average cost of renting a bike for the day is $80 NZD, and goes up from there depending on the size and type of bike you choose.
29. Visit a boutique chocolate factory – Makana Confections
Of all the things to do in Paihia, you don’t want to miss visiting a boutique chocolate factory. Chocolate is a treat that gives the sensation of heaven on earth, yummy! Chocoholics will be happy to hear about Paihia, New Zealand because it is home to some of the best chocolate factories in New Zealand. Give your taste bud a chocolate treat at Makana Confections.
They are famous for their handmade chocolates and other unique truffles, using the freshest and most natural ingredients. You can watch them as they make the chocolate to your preference, ask for a taste sample, and also skim through their many tasty chocolate goodies.
Makana Confections offers a range of chocolate treats for you to choose from: Classic truffles, Fruit Favorites, Rum & Raisin, Naturally Nutty, Orange Biscotti, and other mouthwatering blends. You can pick from their two boutique chocolate factories: one is situated at the heart of Marlborough and the other in the Bay of the Islands.
You can even order their chocolates online and have them shipped to your doorstep as fast as the next day. They also offer corporate gifts and host events such as weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations. So, if you’re ever in Paihia, New Zealand or the Marlborough region, drop by Makana Confections for a heavenly experience!
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, go skydiving! Skydiving is a popular activity in Paihia and offers stunning views of the Bay of Islands. For adventurers looking for things to do in Paihia, skydiving is a must.
There’s something truly exhilarating about leaping out of a plane and freefalling through the air. And what better place to do it than in one of the most beautiful countries in the world? The views of Paihia from up high are simply breathtaking, and there’s no better way to get your adrenaline pumping.
The Bay of Islands Tandem Skydive Experience takes place from 12,000ft up in the sky with an experienced instructor. Enjoy a freefall of 40 seconds and admire the blue waters and lush green landscapes of the Bay of Islands as you take to the skies.
All safety equipment is included in the booking price, so you can be sure that you’re in good hands. Photo and video package options are also available, so you can capture your once-in-a-lifetime experience forever!
Skydiving is definitely one of the most thrilling things to do in Paihia – and it’s sure to leave you with an unforgettable experience.
Related Read: Skydiving is also one of the best things to do in Auckland!
Where to Stay in Paihia, NZ
$ – Haka Lodge Bay of Islands
This is a hostel that is blessed with million-dollar views! Situated just across from the Paihia wharf, Haka Lodge Paihia is an upmarket backpacker lodge that offers stunning views of the bay. The lodge has a range of accommodation options to suit your needs, including dorms, twins, and doubles.
There are also laundry facilities, a shared full-service kitchen, and a social lounge area for you to relax in after a long day of exploring. The staff is friendly and helpful, and they can help you with planning your activities and booking tours.
Haka Lodge Paihia is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking for a cheap, comfortable, and central base to explore Paihia and the Bay of Islands. A bed in a shared dorm starts at $29 NZD per night. You can also book a bed in a double room for $107 NZD per night. You can check their availability on Booking.com or Hostelworld.
$$ – Te Tiriti Motel
This is a family-owned and operated motel that is just a short walk from the beach. The Te Tiriti Motel offers clean and comfortable accommodation at an affordable price. All of the rooms are spacious and well-equipped, with kitchenettes, TVs, and WiFi access.
The motel also has a swimming pool, BBQ area, and laundry facilities for guests to use. The friendly owners are happy to help you with booking activities and tours, and they can also provide you with information about the local area.
A studio room at the Te Tiriti Motel starts at $129 NZD per night. You can check their availability on Booking.com.
$$$ – Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel
This hotel is located right on the beach, with stunning views of the Bay of Islands. The Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel offers a range of luxurious accommodation options, from rooms and suites to apartments and villas.
The hotel facilities include a swimming pool, day spa, restaurants, bars, and a fitness center. Their restaurant, Glasshouse Kitchen & Bar, offers stunning views of the bay while you enjoy contemporary Kiwi cuisine. The on-site pool is to die for!
You can also enjoy complimentary use of the kayaks, paddleboards, and snorkeling gear they have at the hotel for guest use. The hotel can help you with booking activities and tours, and they also have a concierge service to assist you with anything you need.
A standard “Superior Studio” room at the Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel starts at $260 NZD. You can also opt for a Superior Suite, which includes a fully equipped kitchen, large living and dining area, and private balcony, for $405 NZD per night. You can check availability and book online on Booking.com.
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (DTRAVEL5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
Thanks for reading!
Paihia is a beautiful place to visit in New Zealand, with plenty of accommodation options, activities, and tours to keep you busy. If you’re visiting this region, you can’t go wrong with any of the activities and attractions on this list.
If you enjoyed this post about the Best Things to Do in Paihia, stick around and read some of my other blog posts about New Zealand travel!
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