40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© NZPocketGuide.com
40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]

35 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]

© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
NZ Pocket Guide is 10 years old. Thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade!

The Top Activities, Tours and Attractions in Paihia

You are utterly and undoubtedly spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do in Paihia. The hub of the Bay of Islands is home to heaps of activities, from adrenaline thrill rides to relaxing trips out on the water. That’s why summing up the Paihia must-dos into one small list is quite the challenge – that’s why we’ve made a long list of the best things to do in Paihia! That way, you won’t miss out!

Whether you are into exploring some of the free attractions like waterfalls or are more into hardcore adventure activities like skydiving or scuba diving, we have a variety on this list of things to do in Paihia. Let’s begin!

1. Explore Urupukapuka Island

Take a day trip out to Urupukapuka Island from the Paihia Wharf! Urupukapuka is the largest island of the Bay of Islands with a vast network of walking tracks taking you to historic pā sites (Māori fortified villages), epic viewpoints and multiple pristine beaches. The island is also a bird sanctuary so you’re bound to spot heaps of beautiful native birds like tui, silvereye, whiteheads, fantails, pukeko, tomtits, robins and more! If you’re not too much into hiking, simply relaxing at the island’s cafe or hiring a kayak are more ways to make the most of this island escape.

Location: Ferries depart from the Paihia Wharf with Explore.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Scuba Dive to Reefs, Wrecks and Caves

The Bay of Islands may look stunning above the water’s surface, but underwater is something else! A colourful array of curious fish species lie in the waters of the Bay of Islands among kelp forests, sea urchins, stingrays, dolphins and more! If you are a qualified diver, there is also the opportunity to do wreck dives and explore underwater caves. Whatever your level, Paihia Dive can organise an exciting dive in the bay. For more scuba diving sites around New Zealand, check out 10 Places to Scuba Dive in New Zealand.

Location: Paihia Dive – 35 Williams Road, Paihia

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Kayak to Haruru Falls

There’s no lack of kayaking options in the Bay of Islands! Take a freedom kayaking trip around the bay from Paihia, or take a guided trip down the Waitangi River to Haruru Falls where you can get right into the falls! At high tide, this also gives you the option to explore the mangrove forest along the Waitangi River and check out some of the fascinating wildlife living here. Book your trip with Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak on Viator or Klook.

Location: 1 Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi, approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) north of Paihia town centre.

Tourism NZ© Tourism NZ

4. Go On an Island-Hopping Sailing Trip

Relax to the sounds of elements on a sailing cruise around the Bay of Islands. Multiple sailing trips operate in the Bay of Islands, such as Barefoot Sailing Adventures, R. Tucker Thompson and Vigilant Yacht Charters, so there’s plenty of choices, whether you’re looking for more of a foodie experience or mix a little adventure in there with snorkelling and stopping off at various islands along the way. Sail through the day or cruise at sunset. Whatever your choice, just remember to sit back, relax and crack open a beer!

Location: Tours depart from Paihia Wharf, Russell Wharf or Paihia Beach.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Only a short drive (or walk) from Paihia, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds tells the story of the combining of the Māori and European cultures on the site where The Treaty of Waitangi was signed. A two-day pass allows you to visit the Museum of Waitangi, access to bush walks, a waka (canoe) house, a colonial house, and experience a Māori cultural performance in the carved meeting house. For more information, check out The Waitangi Treaty Grounds: Visitor Tips & 5 Reasons to Visit or book admission on Viator or Klook.

Location: Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi, approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) north of Paihia town centre.

13 Paihia Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Skydive with a Beach Landing

It’s a much-loved adrenaline activity here in New Zealand and you can do it right here in the Bay of Islands with Skydive Bay of Islands! Skydive from 9,000, 12,000, 16,000 or 20,000 ft and fall at speeds of 200 kph! On a fine weather day, you even get the opportunity to land on the beach! Can it get any more “Bay of Islands” than that?! For more places to skydive around New Zealand, check out the 15 Best Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand.

Location: Pick-ups are available in Paihia. 182 Wiroa Road, Kerikeri, approximately 23 km (14 mi) west of Paihia.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Parasail Over the Bay

Fly at 1,200 ft above the Bay of Islands with Flying Kiwi Parasail. There’s nothing like shooting up into the sky from the back of a speedboat attached to a colourful parachute. You’ll get to take in the views and fly for about 10 to 12 minutes before coming in for landing back on the boat. What’s more, it’s an activity suitable for all ages, along with the 10 Best Things to Do in the Bay of Islands with Kids.

Location: Departures from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf.

© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Explore Historic Russell

Russell is New Zealand’s first capital and a pretty fascinating place to visit. Learn about its history in the various museums or on a bus tour. Walk up to Flagstaff Hill to get some great vantage points. Treat yourself to ice cream parlours, fish and chips, or a beer in New Zealand’s oldest hotel and licensed pub, The Duke of Marlborough. We recommend catching the ferry back to Paihia Wharf at dusk for an amazing sunset cruise! Plan your visit using the 10 Best Things to Do in Russell.

Location: Passenger ferries operate every 10 minutes from Paihia Wharf. Car ferries operated every 10 minutes from Opua Bay.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Go Mountain Biking

There are plenty of biking opportunities around Paihia, from the trail-weaving wonderland of the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park to the Twin Coast Cycle Trail. Rent a bike from Paihia Mountain Bikes then hit the downhill trails of varying difficulties in the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park with lots of fun features to tackle along the way. For something a bit more chilled yet a 2-day adventure, try the Twin Coast Cycle Trail from Opua to Horeke. If you like mountain biking, then check out The Best Mountain Biking Regions in New Zealand.

Location: Waitangi Mountain Bike Park – 33 Bayly Road, Waitangi. Ask bike operators about transport to or from the Twin Coast Cycle Trail.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Kerikeri and Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri is not to be missed! The extremely accessible 27 m (88 ft) high waterfall has many different viewing platforms. If you’re feeling adventurous, cross the stream and make your way around the back of the waterfall for a pretty insane perspective! Additionally, continue on the Kerikeri River Walkway to Kemp House, the oldest surviving house in New Zealand, and visit the museum in the Stone Store. For more ideas of what to do in Kerikeri, check out the 15 Best Things to Do in Kerikeri.

Location: Rainbow Falls Road, Kerikeri, approximately 29.5 km (18 mi) northwest of Paihia.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

11. Get Social on an Overnight Cruise

Extend your trip out on the water in an overnight cruise with The Rock Adventure Cruise. Relax with your cabin mates, go out for some night kayaking to see some bioluminescent algae, go fishing for snapper and enjoy some great food straight from the ocean. The next day is your chance to explore the islands, go snorkelling, or kick back and soak up the sun while slurping some sea urchins.

Location: Departures from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf.

13 Paihia Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

12. Take a Bus Trip to Cape Reinga

Explore ancient kauri forests, stop for fish and chips, see the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide before your eyes, get a photo with the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, sand surf down the sand dunes and enjoy the drive down Ninety Mile Beach! It’s an action-packed day to New Zealand’s Far North with Fullers GreatSights (more info on Viator and Klook)! More information about the Far North can be found in our Northland destination category.

Location: Bus trips depart from Paihia (accommodation pick-up can usually be arranged).

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

13. Cruise to the Hole in the Rock

Deliver mail to remote islands in the Bay of Islands and see iconic sights on the Fullers GreatSightsHole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise or the very similar cruise with Explore (either way, they are both the same company). Enjoy a smooth cruise on their large catamarans with multiple viewing decks ideal for spotting dolphins and other marine wildlife. A highlight is heading all the way to the end of the Cape Brett Peninsula and through the giant archway island known as the Hole in the Rock. The cruises last approximately four hours.

Location: Departures from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf or Russell Wharf, The Strand.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© NZPocketGuide.com

14. Cruise, Paddle, Hike and Snorkel with Island Getaway Tours

A more active cruise in the Bay of Islands, Island Getaway Tours offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy watersports and a hike on an island on their cruise and island tour. They have small-group and private tours available with snorkelling gear, paddleboards and more to make the most of your day. Light refreshments are included but you might want to bring your own lunch. Find out more about the five-hour tour on Viator and Klook. Plus, see how this cruise compares to the 15 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands.

Location: Cruises depart from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Island Getaway Tours - Viator

15. Go Dolphin-Watching on the Carino Wildlife Cruise

For a sailing tour with an emphasis on wildlife and dolphin viewings, choose the Carino Wildlife Cruise. The six-hour cruise on a 15 m (50 ft) catamaran yacht focuses on looking out for little blue penguins, gannets and, of course, the Bay of Islands’ resident pods of dolphins. The cruise includes an island stop with a scenic walk, as well as a barbecue lunch and the opportunity to snorkel from the beach. See more places to spot dolphins in the 5 Best Places to Swim with Dolphins in New Zealand.

Location: Cruises depart from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Carino Wildlife Cruise - Viator

16. Sail the Bay of Islands on a Private Sailing Charter

Amp things up a notch with a private charter on a luxury sailing catamaran. There are several gorgeous yachts to choose from, typically including SUP boards and/or kayaks, snorkelling gear and lunch. To keep things as exclusive as possible, indulge in a private sailing charter with one of the following Bay of Islands sailing charters:

Location: Departure from Paihia Wharf or Russell Wharf. See more activities like this in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in the Bay of Islands.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Northland Inc

17. Embark on a Scenic Flight Over the Bay of Islands

Following the luxury theme, nothing allows you to take in the magnificence of the bay’s 144 islands quite like a scenic flight. Salt Air offers an array of options to experience the Bay of Islands by air and on land. You could fly from Paihia to Ninety Mile Beach on the “Cape Reinga Tour“? Or, just keep things simple and enjoy the views on the “Hole in the Rock Helicopter Flight“. See how these flights compare to the 10 Best Helicopter Tours in New Zealand.

Location: Tours depart from Paihia Wharf.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Northland Inc

18. Indulge the Senses on a Wine, Craft Beer and Chocolate Tour

The Bay of Islands is one of the most underrated wine-growing regions of New Zealand, which means you’ll get a truly off-the-beaten-track feel for any winery visit or wine tour you’ll experience here. Mullarkeys Tours compiles a smorgasbord of food and drink experiences on their wine and craft beer tour. This half-day activity includes a visit to the Sovrano Estate for a vineyard tour and tasting before travelling to Marsden Estate for more tastings and a lunch platter in a scenic lake setting. Next, it’s off to PhatHouse Brewing Co. for tasting beers made from natural ingredients. Finally, tour the Fat Pig Vineyard before returning to your accommodation.

Location: Tours depart from the Paihia i-SITE, The Wharf, 69 Marsden Road.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Northland Inc

19. See the Glowworms at the Kawiti Glowworm Caves

For an experience almost like magic, delve into the glowworm caves of Kawiti Glowworm Caves just south of Kawakawa. A tour of this large limestone cave reveals amazing stalactites, stalagmites and thousands of glowworms. Learn about the interesting lifecycle of the glowworms and enjoy a short bushwalk too on this tour that lasts approximately 45-60 minutes. The Kawiti Glowworm Caves are also included in half-day guided tours with Mullarkey Tours and Bay of Islands Tours, departing from Paihia.

Location: 49 Waiomio Road, Waiomio, just off State Highway 1, approximately 21 km (13 mi) from Paihia.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Bay of Islands Tours - Viator

20. Indulge in a Spa Day

Make sure you fit in some “you time” with a heavenly spa treatment. The Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel is a great place to start, where you can indulge in a wide range of treatments, from facials to body polishes, at their on-site spa, La Spa Naturale. Alternatively, get pampered with a range of spa therapies at the Pure Bliss Spa of the Copthorne Hotel & Resort.

Location: Paihia Beach Resort & Spa – 130 Marsden Road, Paihia. Copthorne Hotel & Resort – 1 Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Paihia Beach Resort & Spa

21. Enjoy Some Beach Time

Take some time to relax by swimming and combing Paihia’s magnificent beaches. Popular picks include Paihia Town Beach on the waterfront of Paihia town and Te Tii Bay at the northern end of Paihia.

Location: Paihia Town Beach – 28 Marsden Road. Te Tii Bay – 128 Marsden Road, Paihia.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Northland Inc

22. Walk or Drive to Haruru Falls

Although accessible on kayaking tours, Haruru Falls is also the highlight of a local walking trail. The Waitangi-to-Haruru Falls Track scales the Waitangi River, winding through mangroves via a boardwalk and bush trail, taking around 2 hrs 30 mins to complete one way. Alternatively, you can drive to the falls via Haruru Falls Road. For more freebies close to town, check out the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Paihia.

Location: Haruru Falls Road, approximately 5 km (3 mi) from Paihia town centre. Alternatively, the Waitangi River Walk starts opposite the road from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi, approximately 3 km (2 mi) from Paihia town centre.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© NZPocketGuide.com

23. Hike to the Opua Forest Paihia Lookout

Speaking of walking trails, an easy enough trail to access from central Paihia is the Opua Forest walk (now commonly known as the School Road Track). 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. The Oromahoe Traverse links the School Road Track to the Opua Kauri Walk, taking a further two hours.

Location: The track starts at the end of School Road, approximately 700 m (765 yards) from the Paihia town centre.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Department of Conservation

24. Tackle the Bay of Islands Coastal Walkway

For a full-day adventure, follow the Coastal Walkway from Paihia to Opua (3 hours one way) over beaches and through coastal and mangrove forest. Either return the same way to join the ferry service from Opua (all you need is some spare change for this) over the water to Okiato. From Okiato, walk through a mix of wetlands and forest to historic Russell. We recommend having a look around the historic town before hopping onto a passenger ferry from Russell Wharf back to Paihia. The whole loop takes approximately 8 hours.

Location: The walk from Paihia starts on the coastal side of the road immediately after the Te Haumi Stream road bridge, approximately 2.5 km (1.5 mi) south of Paihia town centre. You can follow the beaches and coast all the way from Paihia.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© Unsplash

25. Explore the Coast on Horseback

Gallop over the hills with stunning coastal views on one of the horse trekking experiences with Horse Trek’n Bay of Islands. Choose your adventure, including a forest and hillside trek, a bayview ride or taking your horse for a swim. See more endearing experiences like this in the 10 Romantic Things to Do in the Bay of Islands.

Location: 33 Bayly Road, Waitangi, approximately 4.5 km (2.7 mi) north of Paihia town centre.

40 BEST Things to Do in Paihia ⛱️ [2024]© NZPocketGuide.com

10 More Things to Do in Paihia

And for all those honourable mentions, here are 10 more things to do in Paihia:

  1. Bay of Islands Adventures – Experience thrills in a jet boat or observe wildlife in a glass-bottom boat – Paihia Wharf
  2. Waitangi Golf Club – Tee off at a scenic golf course – Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi
  3. Kernhem Group – Embark on a private Bay of Islands wine tour – Pick-ups from Paihia
  4. Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market – Browse local produce and artisanal products every Thursday afternoon – The Village Green, 60 Marsden Road
  5. Paihia Restaurants – Dine on fresh kai moana and ice cream – see The Food Guide to the Bay of Islands for recommendations
  6. St Paul’s Church – Admire the bluestone architecture of this waterfront church – 36 Marsden Road
  7. Kawakawa – See the famous Hundertwasser Toilets and ride the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway – State Highway 11
  8. Opua Kauri Walk – Explore kauri forest on this 30-min return walk just outside of town – Oromahoe Road, Opua
  9. PhatHouse Brewing Co. – Sample craft beer tasting trays – 2 Garden Court, Haruru
  10. Trike Tours – Get a personalised tour of the bay on a 350 Chev Trike – Paihia Wharf.

And extend the list further to the surrounding Bay of Islands with the 40 Best Things to Do in the Bay of Islands.

More Things to Do Near Paihia

That’s it for our list of the best things to do in Paihia. For more experiences just a short drive away, check out the following:

If you need more inspiration, hop on over to The Complete Guide to the Bay of Islands and fill up your remaining time in Paihia with the 40 Best Things to Do in the Bay of Islands.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

Was this article useful?