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- 12 Dec 2019, 3 nights
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As the gateway town to the Bay of Islands, Paihia puts you within easy reaching distance of some of New Zealand’s best coastal scenery. The adventure starts from the shores of this North Island town, where you can visit underwater caves, kayak to waterfalls and go diving. Its history is just as exciting: it’s here in this small corner of New Zealand that the country’s founding document was signed. You can also learn about the fascinating Māori culture.
Experience a warm Kiwi welcome when you stay in a Paihia hostel. From stays with a party scene to family-run hostels, you can expect to meet like-minded travellers. Stay in a hostel with a view out to the ocean or a sociable outdoor terrace. Some Bay of Islands hostels in Paihia have a swimming pool, hot tub and barbecue, while others have a cosy communal living room with a log fire. Most have free Wi-Fi and female-only dorms.
Paihia’s town is based around its main beach, where there are shops, cafés and a few bars. Also here is Paihia Wharf, which is where most of the dolphin-watching cruises and scuba trips depart from. Just south of the centre is Sullivan’s Beach, a local favourite thanks to its secluded setting with no road access. Another area worth visiting is neighbouring town Waitangi, a 25-minute walk away. Here you'll find the Ngātokimatawhaorua, an impressive ceremonial war boat.
With 144 islands, there’s a lot to explore. One of the best ways to see as much as possible is to jump on an island-hopping tour. You’ll get to stop off at some of the uninhabited islands, snorkel in lagoons and trek through subtropical rainforests. Back on the mainland, you can hike or kayak to nearby Haruru Falls, or walk through the Opua Forest for views of the islands. If you happen to be in town on a Thursday, check out Paihia’s local farmers’ market in the Village Green.
Kerikeri Airport, also known as the Bay of Islands Airport, is a 20-minute drive away from town. You can take a 40-minute flight from Auckland, or go by bus. The journey takes about 3 hours, but it's a scenic route. With a small centre, most places in town are easy to get to by foot. You could always hire a bike if you want to go off road.