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Northland

Outdoor Activities

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Our most recommended Northland Outdoor Activities

From Paihia or Russell: Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise

1. From Paihia or Russell: Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise

Embark on a catamaran tour of the Bay of Islands from Paihia or Russell. Enjoy insightful commentary as you visit famous sights, including the "Hole in the Rock" and make a stop at Urupukapuka Island. Board your vessel in Paihia or Russell and glide out through the islands. Cruise along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse watches over the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’.  The natural sculpture, one of New Zealand's most popular attractions, was created from centuries of sea and wind erosion. According to Maori legend, local warriors paddled through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof were a good omen. Take in the Grand Cathedral Cave before heading back into the bay. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales, and other marine life.  Cruise in comfort aboard the Dolphin Seeker with indoor and outdoor seating and the Bay of Island's largest outdoor viewing decks. Treat yourself to snacks and a licensed bar on board, or enjoy the Otehei Bar Café and Bar on Urupukapuka Island.

Bay of Islands Small Group Afternoon Cruise & Island Tour

2. Bay of Islands Small Group Afternoon Cruise & Island Tour

Check-in at the Salt Air Office at 3.20 PM, before setting off along the sheltered coastline for a scenic cruise. Stop off at Roberton Island (also known as Twin Lagoons) for a 10-minute native bush walk to a breathtaking 360-degree lookout over the bay. After the walk, explore the tidal lagoons before climbing back on board. Cruise among the stunning islands of the Bay, keeping an eye out for wildlife.  Then, stopover at one of the Bay of Islands’ most secluded and unfrequented bays to try some new activities. Snorkel and explore the underwater reefs, stroll on an island trail, give stand-up paddle-boarding a try, relax on the beach or jump in the water for a swim. Make the afternoon your own with the activities that interest you most. Finally, board the boat for the return scenic cruise back to Paihia, arriving at 6:30 PM.

Bay of Islands: 5-Hour Day Cruise and Island Getaway Tour

3. Bay of Islands: 5-Hour Day Cruise and Island Getaway Tour

Escape the crowds and experience the Bay of Islands on a personalised, small-group, interactive boat cruise. Combine the best activities of the Bay of Islands with interactive and informative commentary for an amazing day excursion. Stop at Roberton Island and disembark for a 10-minute walk along a native bush trail. At the end of the trail discover a breathtaking 360-degree viewpoint over the bay. Enjoy a complimentary beachside morning tea provided by the crew and have the opportunity to explore the tidal lagoons. Climb back on board and continue cruising among the 144 islands of the Bay keeping a lookout for marine wildlife and unique shorebirds. Your second island stop takes you to one of the Bay of Islands’ most secluded and unfrequented bays. Snorkel and explore the underwater reefs, take a walk along the island trail and try stand-up paddleboarding. Relax on the beach or jump in the water for a swim, do as much or as little as you want.

Bay of Islands: Island Hopper Day Sailing Cruise from Paihia

4. Bay of Islands: Island Hopper Day Sailing Cruise from Paihia

Embark on a magical day sailing adventure in the Bay of Islands. Experience the Kiwi barefoot culture for yourself as you step straight from Paihia's beachfront onto a modern catamaran.  Set sail through the bay's 144 islands to a remote island stopover aboard Kopiko, a 33-foot performance catamaran built for speed, comfort, and style. Lend the friendly crew a hand with sailing the boat, or spread out with plenty of deck space where you can grab a bean bag and chalk up some leisure time. Discover a wealth of wildlife from seabirds, stingrays, seals, penguins, to dolphins.  Arrive in a stunning bay, where you'll anchor close to the beach. Step off onto the island and enjoy a delicious packed lunch at a stunning picnic spot of your choice. Enjoy short walking trails, picturesque views, snorkeling, paddleboarding, swimming, or digging your toes into the sand. After your island adventures, set sail and watch the wind fill the sails as you relax on the return trip. 

Bay of Islands: Full-Day Tall Ship Sailing Excursion

5. Bay of Islands: Full-Day Tall Ship Sailing Excursion

Catch the breeze and set sail for the day on board the unique tall ship R. Tucker Thompson, built in the tradition of 100-year-old schooners by local Northlanders. She has sailed the world, but today explores the somewhat calmer seas of the Bay of Islands. The design of the tall ship is based on the Halibut schooners of the north-west coast of America, which were considered fast and easily manned. She has the look of a working ship of the 18th century, purposeful and square-shouldered, but with a touch of style and speed. The day out can be an interactive experience, so help set the sails, ride on the bowsprit, or climb the rigging. If you prefer, you can relax while the crew does the work. The crew will share stories about the ship, the Bay of Islands and involve you as much or as little as you want. You’ll enjoy the Devonshire cream tea freshly baked in the galley each morning. The ship is spacious and comfortable and the friendly crew makes this a personal experience, suitable for people of all ages. At lunchtime the vessel anchors in a secluded bay. Step ashore, take a swim, or try swinging from the yardarm. With all this sea air and activity you'll have a hearty appetite that will be well taken care of by a tasty BBQ lunch cooked on board. After lunch the ship will head back to the historic village of Russell. The ship is operated as a not-for-profit charitable trust with profits from day sail activities being used to support youth sail training programs over the New Zealand winter. Operating for over 25 years, the ship is Qualmark-approved with a Gold environmental rating.

Bay of Islands: Awesome Day Sailing Tour with Island Stop

6. Bay of Islands: Awesome Day Sailing Tour with Island Stop

On boarding this ocean going yacht in Paihia guests are greeted with a safety briefing and invited to join in sailing as participants or simply relax and enjoy. On the journey, guests are treated to fresh fruit and vegetable snacks. See the various and beautiful land formations, ancient lava flows and numerous wave swept caves.  Spot penguins and other marine life in playful groups as the yacht sails along. Upon arrival at the island stopover, guests are invited to swim ashore with snorkel gear, if wished. Those wishing to stay dry are transferred ashore. While on the island travelers may choose to go on a walk, comb the beach, snorkel or a combination of all.  After exploring, enjoy a fresh sandwich lunch provided on board (vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan options available) before heading back to land.

The Rock Adventure Day Cruise

7. The Rock Adventure Day Cruise

You’ll get picked up at 8.15 am at the Paihia Wharf by sea shuttle which will take you on a smooth cruise to a remote and quiet bay where The Rock has been anchored overnight. After arrival and a quick safety brief haul anchor and get underway for an exploration of the islands. Go Kayaking, snorkelling, gathering fresh sea food, explore WWII remains, trek across islands enjoying stunning vantage points, and visit ancient Maori fortifications. If conditions allow, gather mussels from the kelp-covered outer reefs to enjoy on the way home (along with the unique experience of eating sea urchins raw if you’re brave enough). You will have time to enjoy the remote beaches - perfect for a game of beach cricket or volley ball. On the homeward cruise, enjoy those mussels, freshly steamed, and watch out for the abundant marine and bird life…hopefully you’ll even see dolphins! Arrive back at Paihia wharf at approximately 3 pm. Think you want more activities or want to stay on board The Rock longer? Then maybe The Rock Overnight Cruise is for you. Perhaps your time is a bit more limited but you still fancy sleeping aboard a boat? Then go on the Rock Bed & Breakfast Overnight Cruise.

From Paihia: The Rock Adventure Overnight Cruise

8. From Paihia: The Rock Adventure Overnight Cruise

The only overnight cruise in the Bay of Islands, offering snorkeling, kayaking, island walks and the opportunity to catch or collect seafood. Come aboard The Rock for a truly unique experience - with a homely atmosphere, a warm welcome from our crew and a variety of awesome activities to keep you entertained and immersed in this amazing part of the world. Departing from Paihia Wharf, this is the best way to spend 22 hours in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Day 1 Start: 5:00 PM, END: up to you Departs at 5 pm, grab a drink and enjoy a 2-3hr cruise out to the islands. Give the target shooting a go as we cruise. Once on anchor in a sheltered bay, we’ll do a spot of dusk fishing. A healthy snapper baked on the barbecue is a welcome addition to an already delicious buffet dinner (subject to guest’s fishing ability, of course!).  Later you can choose to go night kayaking to marvel in the phosphorescence (some call it “fairy dust”) and lie back for a star-gazing session - your guide will point out the major constellations, planets and galaxies. If you’re still up for action, you can jump in the sea for a night swim before settling in for a drink by the fire. Day 2 Start: 8:00 AM, END: 3:00 PM Sunrise at sea is spectacular – you can watch it from your bed if you’re not an early bird! The breakfast bell goes at 8 am. We serve a traditional kiwi breakfast and then haul anchor and get underway for an exploration of the islands. If you’re up early enough, you might even get a chance for a quick wake-up swim with the crew. Kayaking, snorkelling, gathering fresh seafood, exploring WWII remains, trekking across islands enjoying stunning vantage points and visiting ancient Maori fortifications. If conditions allow, we’ll gather mussels from the kelp-covered outer reefs to enjoy on the way home (along with the unique experience of eating sea urchins raw if you’re brave enough). You will have time to enjoy the remote beaches - perfect for a game of beach cricket or volleyball. On the homeward cruise, enjoy those mussels, freshly steamed, and watch out for the abundant marine and bird life…hopefully you’ll even see dolphins! Arrive back at Paihia wharf at approximately 3 pm.

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What people are saying about Northland

Fantastic trip for all ages. I took a couple of my kids along and they loved the whole experience. From the fast boat surging through the swell to the dolphins that swam past. The stop at the island for lunch was excellent. Beautiful sunny day with a fantastic lawn to sit out on and enjoy the view and some food from the cafe. We very much appreciated the information and banter from our guide and captain. The crew were also super friendly and helpful.

Great experience staff were welcoming and attentive to the needs of their passengers. The captain was great, his commentary was delivered with humor. I felt very safe as the captain would direct us as to where to sit what to do for our safety an comfort.

Such an amazing day. Saw two pods of dolphins during the trip and then seals at the hole in a rock. My four year old loved it - a day to remember

It was the best trip. Had everything. Great weather. Good commentary. Hole in the rock. And many dolphins

Great vessel and captain. Very interesting commentary. Good attention to safety.