1. Go kayaking
Yes, you read that correctly! You can borrowa kayak for free in Paihia if you stay at one of the hostels which have kayaks. Choose a hostel from our list: 8Best Backpacker Hostels in Paihia.Then head down to the beach and go exploring.
2. Go Biking
That’s right, you can borrow bikes too! The hostels that have kayaks usually have mountain bikes to borrow too, so you can explore the Bay of Islands a bit further.
3. Walk to Waitangi
Go see where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. Turn left at the visitor centre in Paihia and follow the beach and coastline for about 45 minutes. You’ll then see the famous Te Ti Marae, whichMaori chiefs used to discuss signing the treaty. [Update: the price for non-New Zealand residents has been bumped up to NZ$50. However, if you have a New Zealand driver license, the fee is NZ$25. Get your ticket here].
4. Then walk to Haruru falls
This 2h30min walk to Haruru Falls is through a sheltered bushwalk next to the Waitangi River. Take the boardwalk through the Mangrove forest – a whole ecosystem growing from the water. Alternatively, take that free kayak you could hire from the hostel up the Waitangi River to the Falls.
5. Go to Russell
The ferry from Paihia to New Zealand’s first capital, Russell, is only NZ$12. The relaxing ferry ride there quickly displays some of the small islands making up the Bay of Islands. Once you get to Russell, there are some great places to eat, a beach, walks (see Flagstaff Hill below) and some people like to jump off the wharf there. Take the ferry at sunset and you probably have the cheapest sunset cruise in New Zealand!
6. Hike up Flagstaff Hill
Not only will you get an awesome view once you reach the lookout point, but you will also be standing on a piece of Maori and European history. Flagstaff Hill is a circuit walk just north of Russell. For more information on how to get there, check outBay of Islands Guide for Backpackers.
7. Have some ice cream
You can’t be in a seaside town without having ice cream on the beach. The Paihia go-to for a good range of ice cream isCellini’s Ice Cream and Espresso. Or, if you take the ferry to Russell, be sure to have some of the Kapiti Ice Cream!
8. While you are at it, eat some fish n’ chips too.
This Kiwi tradition is best enjoyed at the beach. If you have been out fishing, you can bring your catch to Vinnies Fish and Chips for them to cook for you. Otherwise, just buy some of their delicious seafood.
9. Go for a swim
With the ocean in front of you, how can you resist not taking a dip? Unless the weather is appalling.
1o. Walk to the Opua Forest Paihia Lookout
Easy enough to access from central Paihia, the Opua Forest walk is only a 1-hour return walk. Make your way through native forest until you reach a lookout seeing as far as Paihia’s surrounding towns, and of course, the islands out on the water. To get there go to the far end of School Road. The track starts 700m from the Paihia township.