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Bay of Islands must dos

June 7, 2023

The Bay of Islands is a popular holiday destination for good reason - make the most of your visit with these activities.

Cape Brett Walk

Cape Brett

If you are fit and able the iconic Cape Brett Track is an essential experience during a visit to the Bay of Islands. While this is arguably one of the toughest walks around, walkers who make the effort are rewarded with stunning views of the Hole in the Rock, Cavalli Islands, south to Whangaruru and beyond to the famous Poor Knights Islands. Cape Brett is 30km north east of Russell.

There are several options for walking to the lighthouse at Cape Brett or staying the night in the DOC hut before making the return trip the following day. The 16 kilometre track (one way) begins from Oke Bay in Rawhiti or can be joined from the Whangamumu Track. You can leave your car in Rawhiti or take a water taxi from paihia or Russell to Deep Water Cove which is about six kilometres from Cape Brett.

Interestingly Rakaumangamanga (Cape Brett) is one of the waypoints in the Polynesian Triangle.

Hole in the Rock

Motukōkako/Piercy island or more commonly known as the ‘Hole in the Rock’.

Just off Rakaumangamanga you will find Motukōkako/Piercy island or more commonly known as the ‘Hole in the Rock’. Fullers GreatSights and Explore both offer cruises with dolphin viewing and a visit to the Hole in the Rock. The beautiful natural cave is a unique place to visit – if conditions allow boats can navigate their way through.

According to Māori, warriors used to paddle through Motukōkako before departing for battle – drips of water from the roof of the cave were a good omen. A lucky drip may be a bonus to your  make your day.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Te Rau Aroha at Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Waitangi Treaty Grounds is an absolute must do in the Bay of Islands. Waitangi is regarded as the Birthplace of the Nation where Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840. Discover the history with the stories leading up to the signing, during and the after effects all presented in a balanced and authentic way inside the modern and interactive Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi. Visitors have been known to spend several hours inside Te Kōngahu and the latest addition to the Grounds: Te Rau Aroha. The newest museum explores the Māori commitment to the New Zealand Armed Forces as the ‘Price of Citizenship’.


Parasailing is a fantastic way to see the Bay of Islands

The Bay is equally beautiful while looking at it from a different perspective – how about soaring 1300ft above it with Flying Kiwi Parasail?  See the Treaty Grounds, Russell and the rest of the Bay of Islands from the air while flying high above the ocean. The environmentally-friendly operator places a strong emphasis on being kaitiaki (guardians) of the Bay as well.