How to Plan a Romantic Escape to Paihia, Kerikeri, Russell and the Bay of Islands
Scintillating waters, scattering of lush islands, and endless summer, what could be a more romantic setting for your honeymoon or romantic getaway? The Bay of Islands is a mere three hours from Auckland, making it an easy weekend escape, while those planning a honeymoon itinerary around New Zealand will definitely want to make time for this subtropical side of the North Island. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to relax together or seek your next adventure, there are activities, accommodations and restaurants to suit. Find out more in this honeymoon and romantic getaway guide to the Bay of Islands.
10 Activities in the Bay of Islands for Couples
What does a honeymoon or romantic getaway to the Bay of Islands look like? Here’s a quick overview of the region’s romantic experiences before we dive into the details.
- Unwind with a sunset sailing cruise with Barefoot Sailing Adventures or R. Tucker Thompson
- Tackle the uncrowded Cape Brett Track
- Enjoy a wine and craft beer-tasting tour with Mullarkeys Tours
- Double up in a kayak and paddle under Haruru Falls with Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak
- Fly the skies in tandem parasailing with Flying Kiwi Parasail
- Buddy up on a scuba diving trip with Paihia Dive
- Indulge in a couples massage at La Spa Naturale
- Make a special gift for each other in a jewellery-making workshop with Rogue Pony
- Explore the coast on horseback with Horse Trek’n Bay of Islands
- Enjoy an intimate scenic flight over the islands with Salt Air.
For elaboration on each experience, see the 10 Romantic Things to Do in the Bay of Islands. Otherwise, we have more details, as well as dining options, listed below.
Romantic Outdoor Adventures
The Bay of Islands is a coastal paradise that’s best explored in the great outdoors. Whether you’re adrenaline junkies or prefer a relaxing cruise, there are outdoor activities to suit all couples.
Cruise among the 144 islands of the bay at the most romantic time of the day. Barefoot Sailing Adventures (Paihia Beach) offers a two-hour sundowner cruise on their sailing catamaran that pulls right up on Paihia Beach, so take off your shoes, kick back with the included drink and snacks, and enjoy the sunset as you sail around the bay. Alternatively, join the R. Tucker Thompson (Rusell Wharf), a tall sailing ship that has a late afternoon sailing with drinks and antipasto platters available to purchase onboard. Check out more cruising options, including private sailing charters, in the 15 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands.
Cape Brett Track
If tour groups aren’t your thing, then escape from it all on the Cape Brett Track (Oke Bay, Rawhiti). Traverse the hilltops of Cape Brett through native vegetation and exposed hills revealing breathtaking coastal views on this two-day hike. With a fee of around NZ$40 each for track maintenance and NZ$25 for the hut accommodation, the trail is blissfully uncrowded.
Test your relationship by teaming up in a double kayak! From kayak rentals to guided tours, there are plenty of options for paddling fun, such as with Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak (1 Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi) who offer a scenic guided paddle down the Waitangi River to Haruru Falls. Find out more about Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak on Viator and Klook.
For more ideas, check out the 10 Romantic Things to Do in the Bay of Islands.
Romantic All-Weather Experiences
For the days when some of that subtropical rain decides to pour, or when you simply want to do something more relaxing, these all-weather experiences are another great way to experience the bay.
Make a unique souvenir to remember this time together in a silver jewellery class with Rogue Pony (Russell). The team offers private transfers to a studio in Russell where you will learn how to make your own piece of sterling silver jewellery that you can take home with you (or, of course, gift to your loved one). Pick-ups are available from Russell Wharf and the Okiato Ferry Terminal. See more like this in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in the Bay of Islands.
Indulge in ultimate relaxation in a couples massage at La Spa Naturale (130 Marsden Road, Paihi). Located at the Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel, La Spa Naturale uses premium spa products to enhance your state of bliss, which can be experienced together in the resort’s couples massage rooms.
Finally, explore the Bay of Islands one winery at a time on one of the excellent wine tours. Leave the designated driving to Mullarkeys Tours which showcases some of the best of Kerikeri’s wine and beer scene, as well as a chocolate factory visit. Alternatively, keep things intimate with a private wine tour organised by the Kernhem Group. Pick-ups are available from Paihia and Kerikeri. For more about tastings, check out the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in the Bay of Islands.
For more all-weather ideas, see the 15 Things to Do in the Bay of Islands on a Rainy Day.
Finally, complete your day with a romantic meal at one of the excellent fine dining restaurants, casual eateries or wineries of the region. For instance, Charlotte’s Kitchen (69 Marsden Road) on Paihia Wharf has unbeatable views of the harbour to go along with your sharing platter, woodfired pizza or something else.
The Marsden Estate Winery (56 Wiroa Road, Kerikeri) serves international cuisine from its terrace overlooking the vines, river and gardens. Māha Restaurant (190 Kerikeri Road) offers an Asian spin on local produce among gorgeous gardens in Kerikeri. Or take the ferry from Paihia to Russell to dine at The Gables (19 The Strand), the oldest restaurant in New Zealand serving up Italian cuisine in their endearing heritage building.
We have many more recommendations in The Food Guide to the Bay of Islands.
Frequently Asked Questions About Planning a Honeymoon or Romantic Getaway to the Bay of Islands
As for some more practical tips for planning a honeymoon or romantic getaway to the Bay of Islands, here are some FAQs to guide you.
What is the best time of year for a romantic trip to the Bay of Islands?
The best time for a romantic getaway to the Bay of Islands is during the New Zealand summer and early autumn months, from December to April. This period boasts warm weather and plenty of sunshine, ideal for beach outings, sailing and enjoying the natural scenery. For couples seeking more solitude and cooler weather, the shoulder seasons of spring (September to November) and autumn (May to June) are also lovely times to visit. Get more insights on the best seasons for travelling in our complete guide, When is the Best Time to Visit New Zealand?
Can you recommend any honeymoon or romantic accommodation in the Bay of Islands?
The Bay of Islands boasts a variety of romantic accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets, including:
- Luxury lodges and boutique hotels: Offering exquisite views, privacy, and premium amenities.
- Beachfront resorts: Wake up to the sound of waves and enjoy direct beach access.
- Secluded holiday homes: Ideal for couples seeking privacy and a home-away-from-home experience.
- Bed and breakfasts: Experience Kiwi hospitality with cosy, intimate settings.
Either see the list of recommended accommodations beside this article (or at the bottom on mobile) or check out the 10 Most Romantic Accommodations in the Bay of Islands.
How do we get around the Bay of Islands?
For couples, renting a car offers the most flexibility to explore the region at your own pace. There are also local taxi services and tour operators, such as Mullarkey Tours and Bay of Islands Tours, that provide transportation to major attractions. For a unique experience, consider hiring bicycles or e-bikes to explore the local area, or use the passenger ferry services to visit nearby islands without the need for a car.
What should we pack for a romantic getaway to the Bay of Islands?
Pack light, casual clothing for the day and something a bit nicer for evening dining. Don’t forget:
- Swimwear and beach gear
- Comfortable walking shoes for exploring
- Sun protection (sunscreen, hats, sunglasses)
- A camera to capture your memories
- A light jacket or sweater, as evenings can be cool, especially outside of the summer months.
For more ideas that apply to the Bay of Islands, as well as the rest of the country, check out our New Zealand Packing List: What to Pack for New Zealand.
Any tips for making a romantic trip to the Bay of Islands extra special?
Consider surprising your partner with a special activity or gesture, such as:
- Booking a surprise adventure, like a parasailing or diving trip.
- Arranging for a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of champagne to be waiting in your room upon arrival.
- Planning a secret picnic at a scenic location.
For more general ideas for celebrating a special occasion with your loved one, check out 15 Romantic Things to Do for Valentine’s Day in New Zealand.
More About the Bay of Islands for Couples
That’s it for our honeymoon and romantic getaway guide to the Bay of Islands. For more trip-planning wisdom, take a look at more of our insightful guides:
- 20 Best Things to Do in the Bay of Islands
- The Luxury Guide to the Bay of Islands
- 15 Best Hotels in the Bay of Islands
Finally, you can find even more tips for couples in The Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to New Zealand.