The Complete Food Guide to the Bay of Islands
The northern hotspot of the Bay of Islands might be renowned for its sun, sea, and 144 islands, but did you know its also a mecca for foodies? Base yourself in Kerikeri and you’re surrounded by the fruit orchards and vineyards that supply the regions delectable eateries. Stay in Russell and you have vineyards on the hillsides and some of the oldest pubs and restaurants in the country. Head to Paihia and you can embark on a cruise with a gourmet New Zealand picnic. Or take one of the many food and wine tours of the region to see it all!
We’ll guide you through the food tours, restaurants, accommodations with excellent eateries and more in this foodie guide to the Bay of Islands.
Things to Do in the Bay of Islands for Foodies
- Experience the bay though a wine or craft beer tour
- Mingle with the locals at the Bay of Islands Farmers Market
- Learn a new dish with a market tour and vegetarian cooking class
- Enjoy a sailing cruise with a gourmet barbecue lunch
- Watch chocolate being made at the local chocolate factory
- Dine on fresh seafood, taste local wines and more at the Bay of Islands’ delectable restaurants.
For elaboration on each recommendation, take a look at the 7 Things to Do in the Bay of Islands for Foodies.
Activities for Foodies
Treat the food-lover within by taking part in one of the amazing food and drink experiences in the Bay of Islands. For instance, treat yourself to a local market and vegetarian cooking class with Anna from the Travelling Spoon. Learn about the local culture through its food at Anna’s home in a 140-year-old kauri villa. After a local market tour, you’ll learn how to make a vegetarian or vegan barbecue or a meal influenced by Middle-eastern, Italian, Asian or Mexican flavours. Learn more about this experience on Viator and Tripadvisor.
To experience the famous vibrant blue waters of the Bay of Islands while having a gastronomic experience, hop on a sailing cruise with Sunkissed Gourmet Sailing Adventures. While sailing between the bay’s 144 islands, stopping along the way for an island hike, snorkel or something else, you’ll have a gourmet lunch prepared onboard from scratch, such as a barbecued butterflied lamb leg served with a Mediterranean grilled vegetable salad with chimichurri and ciabatta. Find out more about Sunkissed Gourmet Sailing Tours on Viator and Tripadvisor.
To experience the underrated wine-growing region of the Bay of Islands, hop on a winery tour with Rogue Pony who offer a unique ride in a luxury Jeep or Mustang. Find out more about Rogue Pony’s tours on Viator and Tripadvisor. Alternatively, Mullarkeys Tours offers a combination of craft beer, wines and chocolate on their wine and craft beer tour. More details on Mullarkeys Tours can be found on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Finally, for a free way to experience the tastes of the Bay of Islands, head to Makana Confections in Kerikeri to watch chocolates being made in their chocolate factory.
For more ideas and inspiration, head over to the 7 Things to Do in the Bay of Islands for Foodies.
The Best Restaurants in the Bay of Islands
From some of the oldest pubs and restaurants in the country to sweet seaside treats to lavish wineries, the Bay of Islands food scene is fun and varied. Its restaurants will take you across the main towns of the region, allowing you to enjoy real travel experiences through food.
Be sure to spend some time in Kerikeri to make the most of vineyard restaurants such as at the Ake Ake Vineyard (165 Waimate North Road) with its bistro-style eatery serving photo-worthy meals sourced from “back garden” ingredients. Try award-winning wines at the Marsden Estate (56 Wiroa Road) serving local ingredients in their picturesque vineyard, lake and garden setting. The Sage Restaurant at Paroa Bay Winery (31 Otamarua Road) offers contemporary New Zealand cuisine at their hilltop winery near Russell.
You can’t stay in Paihia without sampling some fresh seafood and a good place to start is at the Tipsy Oyster Tapas & Bar (24 Kings Road) that has live music every Friday to go along with its creative menu of Southeast Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Alternatively, try some classic Kiwi-style fish and chips at JFC (40 Marsden Road) or some cheap eats at Vinnie’s Restaurant (68 Marsden Road).
Finally, a visit to the bay is not complete until you’ve tasted some Bay of Islands’ gourmet ice cream, such as at Cellini’s Ice Cream & Espresso (Williams Road, Paihia) or Delish Coffee and Ice Cream (4 Cass Street, Russell).
For more recommendations, check out the fine dining restaurants in The Luxury Guide to the Bay of Islands, romantic restaurants in The Honeymoon Guide to the Bay of Islands, and cheap eats in The Guide to the Bay of Islands on a Budget.
Alternative Things to Do in the Bay of Islands
As hard as it may be to believe, the Bay of Islands isn’t just about the good eats. It actually has a few amazing natural and historical attractions, as well as some fun-filled experiences. Complete your foodie getaway to the bay with some of the following non-food activities:
- Do a cruise of the Bay of Islands with Explore NZ (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Fullers GreatSights (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Hit the bikes trails, such as the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park (on Viator and Tripadvisor) or the Twin Coast Cycle Trail (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- See the stunning Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri
- Skydive from 20,000ft with Skydive Bay of Islands (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Kayak under Haruru Falls with Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Learn about the Maori culture and New Zealand history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
For more suggestions, check out the 10 Must-Dos in the Bay of Islands.