The Luxury Guide to the Bay of Islands© Northland Inc.
The Luxury Guide to the Bay of Islands

The Luxury Travel Guide to the Bay of Islands

© Northland Inc.

How to Plan a Luxury Trip to Paihia, Kerikeri, Russell and the Bay of Islands

Escape to the land of endless summer and spend some time on the coast of the glorious Bay of Islands. The subtropical climate is ideal for vineyards, blissful days sailing around the bay’s 144 islands, and relaxing in one of the luxury accommodations – almost all with commanding views. Experience the extreme through skydiving onto a sandy beach or keep things calm and collected with a heavenly spa treatment. We’ll guide you through the accommodation, eateries and experiences in this luxury travel guide to the Bay of Islands.

Luxury Activities in the Bay of Islands

What does a luxury getaway to the Bay of Islands look like? Here’s a quick overview of the region’s luxury experiences before we dive into the details.

  1. Do a private winery-hopping tour with the Kernhem Group
  2. Fly over the Bay of Islands combined with an island landing or a visit to Cape Reinga with Salt Air
  3. Indulge in a spa day at Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel
  4. Skydive from 20,000 ft with Skydive Bay of Islands
  5. Soar over the islands on a private parasailing charter with Flying Kiwi Parasail
  6. Treat yourself to one of the fine dining restaurants or wineries, from Terra Restaurant to Paroa Bay Winery
  7. Get a tailored experience of the Bay on a private charter with Island Getaway Tours
  8. Sail the Bay of Islands on a private charter with Love Machine Yacht Charter or a small-group luxury catamaran tour with Bayscapes Charters
  9. Have a swing at the Kauri Cliffs Golf Course
  10. Stay at a luxury lodge, such as Eagles Nest or The Landing.

Discover more about each experience in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in the Bay of Islands.

The Luxury Guide to the Bay of Islands©

Luxury Adventure Activities

From renowned golf courses to breathtaking scenic flights, there are some truly special experiences to be had in the Bay of Islands. Now, let’s talk more about those scenic flights…

Scenic Flights

Nothing allows you to take in the magnificence of the bay’s 144 islands quite like a scenic flight. Salt Air (Paihia Wharf) 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“.


Speaking of flights, amp up your scenic journey to the next level with an adrenaline-pumping skydive. Offering one of the highest skydives in the country Skydive Bay of Islands (182 Wiroa Road, Kerikeri Airport) do jumps from a whopping 20,000 ft giving you 85 seconds of freefall. In good weather, you also have the unique experience of landing on the beach. Compare this skydive with others in the 10 Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand.

Parasailing Charters

For something a little closer to sea level, but still pretty darn high at 1,300 ft, try parasailing over the islands in your very own private parasailing charter. Flying Kiwi Parasail (Paihia Wharf) offers a unique experience of hiring a private charter for up to 12 people, picking you up from any private yacht, island or even your cruise ship anchored in the bay. Alternatively, check out their small-group tours on Viator.

Sailing Charters

Enjoy the serenity of sailing among some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking coastlines on a sailing excursion. There are several gorgeous yachts to choose from, as well as experiences from small-group sunset sailings to private full-day charters. Join the R. Tucker Thompson (Russell Wharf), a tall sailing ship that has a late afternoon sailing with drinks and antipasto platters available to purchase onboard. Alternatively, Bayscapes Charters (Paihia Wharf) offers sailing catamaran tours with a 2-hour island stop including SUP boards, snorkelling and lunch. To keep things as exclusive as possible, indulge in a private sailing charter with Love Machine Yacht Charter (Paihia Wharf) for up to eight guests.

For more inspiration for your stay in the Bay, check out the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in the Bay of Islands.

The Luxury Guide to the Bay of Islands© Northland Inc

All-Weather Luxury Activities

Sure, the Bay of Islands is known as the “Winterless North” but with a subtropical climate, wet weather is always a possibility. Nevertheless, the Bay of Islands’ all-weather activities will keep you entertained no matter what.

Private Wine 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. For instance, indulge in a private winery tour with the Kernhem Group (pick ups Paihia and Kerikeri) who offer comprehensive tours incorporating wine tasting and sightseeing. The full-day experience explores some of the natural and historical attractions, including Haruru Falls and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, before embarking on a journey to the Kerikeri wine region. See more tours like this in the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in the Bay of Islands.

Spa Treatments

Make sure you fit in some “you time” with a heavenly spa treatment. The Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel (130 Marsden Road, Paihi) 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 (1 Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi). And those staying at the Paroa Bay Winery (31 Otamarua Road, Russell) can choose from four relaxing treatments.

For more ideas and inspiration, don’t forget to see our 15 Things to Do in the Bay of Islands on a Rainy Day.

The Luxury Travel Guide to the Bay of Islands© Northland Inc

Fine Dining in the Bay of Islands

Of course, no luxury getaway is complete until your evenings are filled with sumptuous flavours. Fine dining experiences can be found in Paihia, especially at the Terra Restaurant (76 Marsden Road) with its seasonal menu of the produce Northland is known for, making up a contemporary New Zealand menu.

If you’re not staying in Russell, be sure to at least take the ferry there to indulge in the Northland fare of The Gables (19 The Strand), New Zealand’s oldest operating restaurant.

Don’t forget to treat yourself to some of the wineries in the Bay of Islands during your visit, such as the Paroa Bay Winery (31 Otamarua Road, Russell), which also offers luxury accommodation. Their restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine made to match their wines. Alternatively, venture to Kerikeri to try the wines and cuisine of the Marsden Estate (Wiroa Road).

For more on gastronomical experiences, check out The Food Guide to the Bay of Islands.

The Luxury Travel Guide to the Bay of Islands© Eagles Nest - Northland Inc

Frequently Asked Questions About Planning a Luxury Getaway to the Bay of Islands

For all those practical tips we have not yet covered, here are some FAQs to help you plan an opulent retreat in the breathtaking Bay of Islands.

What makes the Bay of Islands a prime destination for a luxury getaway?

The Bay of Islands is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, comprising over 144 subtropical islands with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and an abundance of marine life. Its reputation for high-end accommodations, gourmet dining and exclusive experiences, such as private yacht charters and bespoke cultural tours, make it a coveted destination for those seeking luxury and seclusion.

Can I charter a private yacht in the Bay of Islands?

Absolutely. Chartering a private yacht is a quintessential Bay of Islands experience, allowing you to explore secluded coves, pristine beaches, and stunning coastal landscapes at your leisure. Several companies offer luxury yacht charters, complete with skipper services, gourmet meals, and bespoke itineraries tailored to your preferences. Our recommendations include:

What is the best time of year for a luxury getaway to the Bay of Islands?

The best time for a luxury getaway is during the New Zealand summer months from December to March when the weather is warmest and ideal for enjoying the outdoor and water-based activities the Bay of Islands is known for. The shoulder seasons of spring (September to November) and autumn (May to June) also offer pleasant weather with fewer visitors, providing a more exclusive experience. Get more insights on the best seasons for travelling in our complete guide, When is the Best Time to Visit New Zealand?

How can I ensure a truly luxurious experience in the Bay of Islands?

To ensure a luxurious experience, don’t hesitate to communicate your preferences and any special requests directly with your accommodation and service providers; they are usually more than willing to accommodate to ensure your stay is unforgettable.

More About the Bay of Islands

That’s it for the luxury travel guide to the Bay of Islands. For more insightful articles to help guide your getaway, take a look at the following:

Finally, find even more tips to make your luxury getaway exceptional in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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