Dolphins are spotted all though the Bay of Island quite regularly
Often pods of dolphins with there young come right in to the Ti Bay, Waitangi,s Paihia and Russell. They play in the wave formed by the ferries or just come cruising in checking out the bay for food. It's a beautiful site we as locals never tire off and never take for granted. It is especially amazing when you are sitting one of the bars or restaurants, with the sun going down and you see the gorgeous mammals springing out of the water.
There are a number of special trips in which the local operators have licenses to cruise with the dolphin pods, according to strict rules of behaviour so as not to cause distress or harm. There are some "swim with the dolphins" options, but this does depend on conditions and whether or not the pod has young in amongst it.
What you might not know about dolphins
Thirteen different species of dolphin are found around the New Zealand coast
The Mäori word for bottlenose dolphin is Terehu
The dolphins we encounter most are the Bottlenose Dolphins
Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) have a relatively short beak and a high, hooked and prominent dorsal fin
Colour is dark or light grey on the back grading to white on the undersides. Colour and shape can be variable however.
Newborn: length 85cm – 1.3m
Adult: length 1.9 – 3.9m
Around 450 individual Dolphins live in the Bay of Islands area, ranging from Doubtless Bay in Northland to Tauranga
Individuals living close to the shore feed primarily on a variety of inshore bottom-dwelling fish and invertebrate species
Females usually reach sexual maturity at 5-13 years with males not maturing until 9-14 years of age
Females breed every 3-5 years and calves suckle for around 2-3 years. Calving peaks are known to occur for most populations between spring and summer/autumn.
Female bottlenose dolphins can live up to more than 50 years of age, and males can reach as old as 40-45 years
Population sizes are largely unknown but this species is relatively common worldwide
This section of cycle trail is open. It is an easy ride on flat terrain that takes you through rural farmlands and forests and passes the town of Moerewa.
At the other end is Kawakawa, famous for its art toilet! Enjoy the famous toilets designed and built by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser in 1998, located right in the middle of the town.
Pause at Kawakawa for refreshments at one of the many eateries. Take a ride on Gabriel, the vintage train, which departs from the railway station at one end of the town, runs down the middle of the main street and out into the countryside as far as Taumarere. The railway is being restored so thatGabriel can travel over the fourteen bridges, through one tunnel and take people right through to Opuaon the east coast and back. It was the North Island’s first railway to be opened and the first to run a rail passenger service in the North Island. It is also the most northerly railway in the New Zealand and is of significant historical and cultural importance.
Otiria is the northernmost operational point on the national railway network. One freight train runs every weekday each way between Otiria and Whangarei. The cycle trail takes you past the small town of Moerewa.
The trail between Kawakawa and Opua follows the old rail line. It is located right beside the Opua Harbour and follows the Waikare estuary. The ride is flat, easy to ride and perfect for families. It provides views of the estuary connecting to the Kawakawa River. The first 7 kilometers are cycle trail with the remaining 4 kilometres a vintage railway experience.
In 1868 a bush tramway opened between Kawakawa and Taumarere to carry coal for export. It was converted into a metal rail track in 1870. The disused track runs right through to Opua. The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway has restored the track as far at Taumarere and at 11.5 kilometers, it is one of the longest heritage railway lines in New Zealand.
A ride on Gabriel, the vintage steam train, is a great outing for all the family. It departs from the Kawakawa Rail Station at the western end of the town and runs through the countryside to Taumarere and back. The station in Kawakawa was built 1911 to replace the first one that was destroyed by fire, and is recognised by the Rail Heritage Trust and Far North District Council as being of heritage significance.
The cycle trail runs over fourteen bridges, through a tunnel and alongside the mangroves on the shores of the upper reaches of the Kawakawa River.
The ride into Opua gives you views across the protected waters of the inner reaches of the Bay of Islands and the Opua Marina. There is a cafe, toilets and car parking right where you start (or end) your ride. Be sure to stop and visit the 100 year old Opua General store perched out over the water on piles. Take a stroll out on the Opua Wharf. Opua is a bustling commercial port with a large marina and boatyard. It is a major port of entry for overseas yachts and a popular destination with its sheltered, deep water anchorages, yacht club and facilities for boaties. From Opua you can take the car ferry across the estuary to link up with the road to Russell.
There is a delightful walkway from Opua along the shore to Paihia, and if you pop over on the ferry the walkway takes you all the way to Russell. On the Russell side of the estuary is Okiato Point, the site of New Zealand’s first capital from 1840-1841. The well on the point is the only visible remnant of the old capital.
Let the fun begin. Bay of Islands Sailing Week 2015.
Paihia and Russell fill up this weekend with ocean lover flood in, as the annual sailing week is on!
With the organizers offering ten different divisions, seven full-on racing divisions, and three Island racing divisions the week is known by New Zealand herald as 'One of the best regattas in New Zealand'. Watch for the Super yachts race too. Aspecial division this year in the Bay of Islands. A great spectacle on the water.
We at Outrigger Motel wish everyone competing all the best.
This Boutique Food and Wine Festival is in its 5th year in the Bay of Islands! This is “it!!” - the event not to be missed - Love it! Cook it! Drink it! Bite it! Sing it! A successful recipe of fantastic food, wine, entertainment and friendly locals all mixed up together in the Bay of Islands. Featuring Kiwi Icons - Supergroove! October 25th @ the Village Green in Paihia. (2 mins from Outrigger Motel)
Along with mouthwatering food, award winning vineyards, beer and cider - we have lots of fun going on around the place - there are real kiwi competitions such as “Kina Sucking”, “Oyster Shucking and Eating” and of course “Pie Eating!” - we are in Pai-hia after all!
Live Music on stage all day leading up to Supergroove. The stage can be seen from all over the festival - it is a great friendly festival where you are never far from the action!
Kids! This is a family friendly festival with a children's area and entertainment provided to allow parents to sit back and enjoy the music and taste some of the exceptional food and beverages! Bouncy castles, face painting an stilt walking.
Limited number of tickets will be available for this boutique festival. Last year was sold out.
The Bay of Islands is a top holiday destination that has retained it’s small friendly feel - there is plenty to do around the town whether it be to take a boat trip to see the dolphins, have a swim, kayak, visit Waitangi or head into the bush. Or you can just sit in one of the many cafes and watch the world go by!
Earlybird tickets available now - Limited amount. Under 5's are free.
Don't miss Russell Birdman, it's always a great family occasion, with fun and laughter for all. The kids and adults all love this event and if the weathers good, you just can't beat the scenery of beautiful Russell. This is as kiwi as it gets - so see you in July at the Russell Birdman Festival!
It all started with a couple of ideas over a few beers at the Duke of Marlborough by a few Russell locals to create an event to bring people together in the middle of winter. People of all descriptions don their creations each year to run and jump off the end of the Russell wharf.
This year will feature the hilarious Drag Race (for men in frocks), Kids Mini Ironman, Mural Painting, The Great Russell Race, Spaghetti Eating Competition, Dinghy Races, WOK Cook-off, Under 10′s Beach dig, and the famous Birdman Jump. New this year we have a Kids Fancy Dress Competition, Kids Fishing Competition, Fly My Pretties Bird Hunt, and The Russell Birdman Street Party which will be on Friday night.
If you are heading to Paihia for a few days and like to stomp the feet, you're in luck.
There are several walks and treks in and around Paihia that combined with consistently favourable weather and stunning coastal scenery, make for a wonderful outdoor activity.
The Paihia Viewpoint walk is one of the top 10 great Bay of Islands walks. This short 1.5 hour return walk is close to central Paihia and involves a stroll along a well-maintained track through wetlands, before climbing through regenerated native forest to a lookout point that reaches high over Outrigger Motel and Paihia township. The lookout provides sensational views from Opua out towards Witangi and Paihia, as well as Russell and across the Bay of Islands. Be sure to keep a close look out for native bird life.
There is also the Paihia - Opua Coastal Walkway, which is a relatively gentle 5.8km/3 hour walk that takes offers stunning views of the bay and sea birds. It takes you from the centre of Paihia along the main beach, round the coastline (can be tricky at high tide! You may need to revert to the road for this part) and then, once you cross the river at the far end of the Te Haumi flats, on your left you will find access to a winding path around the headland and on to Opua. Arrange the Tuktuk to pick you up the other end.
The most challenging of walking tracks you can tackle whilst you are holidaying in Paihia is the Cape Brett Walkway. This 33km/8 hour track requires a high degree of fitness and hiking experience and is one of the most spectacular walks in the Bay of Islands and offers some dramatic seaside views.
Cape Brett is located 26km north-east of Paihia. The track features seven distinctive peaks that mark Cape Brett's spine, which are said to represent the seven waka that brought Maori settlers to Aotearoa from Hawaiiki around 700 years ago. The area surrounding the track is rich in early Maori history and the remains of several ancient pa sites are visible at various locations.
The track begins at Oke Bay and takes you through native forest and along dramatic cliffs to Cape Brett Lighthouse. When you look down to the ocean and bays below you might be lucky enough to see dolphins playing in the waves. At Deep Water Cove, you can stop for a swim and a snorkel.
Another full day walking track that's handy to Paihia is the Waitangi to Haruru Falls Track. This 6km/5 hour track departs from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and heads along the bush-clad banks of the Waitangi River to Haruru Falls. A feature of the walk is the boardwalk section which provides an opportunity to pass through the interior of a mature mangrove forest, an area which is usually inaccessible. The mangrove is a remarkable tree being that it's able to survive in salt water. This particular mangrove is one of about 10 varieties in the world, all of which grow in swamps, mudflats and tidal estuaries. An alternative to walking both ways is to arrange to kayak the river in one direction and walk the other. There is a local kayak hire company on the beach near the Waitangi River bridge that can arrange this for you.
Being the main township of the Bay of Islands means Paihia has a plethora of options when it comes to wining and dining.
Just a few minutes’ walk from Outrigger Motel in Paihia are various options to cater to all tastes and appetites, including 19 restaurants, 14 bars and brasseries and 10 cafes, plus a number of takeaway options.
Not surprisingly, seafood features prominently on most local menu boards, with no shortage of locally caught mussels, scallops, oysters and fresh fish options to choose from.
Alfresco's Restaurant & Bar is a firm favourite among locals and tourists alike and has been run by a local family since 2008. It is open every day from 8am and offers a wonderful breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. It is renowned for its outstanding customer service, which is backed up by its Certificate of Excellence awards by Trip Advisor for the past three years. Be sure to check out their live music on Sunday afternoons.
For a meal right on Paihia's waterfront you should try 35 Degrees South Aquarium Restaurant & Bar. It features an irresistible seafood menu and is the perfect spot to have a glass of wine or award winning toasted espresso coffee and watch boats come and go from Paihia Wharf. Their menus have been designed by Martin Bosley, NZ's most awarded chef. Or dine alfresco on Alongside, and exciting social place out over the water.
When you come to the Bay of Islands you HAVE to visit The Duke of Marlborough in Russell - New Zealand's first capital and The Duke holds New Zealand's liquor licence!
Right on the edge of the wharf is the wonderful Charlotte's Kitchen. Ever so popular and a great story to go with it. Have a cocktail, beer and dine in.
There's even an option if you want to eat on the water itself, with Darryl's Dinner Cruise allowing you to dine in style on board 'Ratanui'. This 2.5 hour cruise will allow you to take in the region's bird life, historical points of interest up Waitangi River to Haruru Falls. As the sun goes down, you can dine on tasty prawns, mussels, breads and dips to start with, followed by a choice of T-bone steak, a rack of lamb or tender locally caught fish.
A selection of the most stunning and exhilarating scuba diving spots exist in the Bay of Islands, drawing thousands of dive enthusiasts from right around the world.
Paihia is the perfect starting point to feed your scuba diving cravings. It is home to the two most historically-rich ship wrecks in New Zealand - The Rainbow Warrior and the New Zealand frigate HMNZS Canterbury.
The Rainbow Warrior is diving jewel of the North Island. It was Greenpeace's flagship and was bombed and sunk by French saboteurs in 1985 during protests of France's nuclear testing on the Mururoa Atoll. It now sits at a depth of 27m and is dived by hundreds of divers every year.
HMNZS Canterbury rests in Deep Water Cove near Cape Brett. Sitting upright and intact, she makes for an impressive sight in what is a fantastic dive location. Dozens of fish species have made themselves a home aboard the Canterbury.
Reef diving in the Bay of Islands is also hugely popular and is different from anywhere else in the world. Certain dive spots here are volcanic in origin and feature great wall dives, caves and caverns and many crevasses.
Here you'll a wide range of tropical fish and the largest stingrays in the world, with the Short Tail ray measuring up to 3m across and weighing in the region of 300kg.
Reef diving visibility is consistently around 15 - 20m and can extend up to 40m in late summer when the water becomes more blue. During this time, the east winds kick in more, pushing open ocean water onto the coat, which brings in sea turtles and manta rays.
Because of its options for diving, Paihia is the perfect place to learn to dive or even snorkel. There are several local companies who offer scuba diving training, open water and advanced open water diving as well as dive master training.
Looking for your next holiday destination? Just a three hour drive north of Auckland is Paihia, the gateway to the Bay of Islands - New Zealand's marine adventure playground.
Encompassing 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula, the subtropical micro-region known as the Bay of Islands, is the perfect next holiday destination for beach lovers and water sport enthusiasts.
New Zealand's North Island is blessed with hundreds of kilometres of spectacular coastline. However no stretch of coastline compares provides quite the same tourist appeal as that of the Bay of Islands. There is something for everyone, including swimming, surfing, sea kayaking, recreational diving, daily boat cruises and yacht charters. There is also an abundance of wildlife such as penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales and gannets. Combine all of this with stunning weather and unbeatable scenery, you get what many call a marine paradise.
If you're looking to discover the islands and beaches of the Bay of Islands then Paihia is the perfect place to start, with boat cruises of all descriptions leaving Paihia Wharf daily all year round.
Paihia packs a big punch for a small town, with plenty to do both on and off the water. There are plenty of motels in Paihia or you might like to stay at the local camping ground. From your desired accommodation location, it is just a few minutes' walk to take in a spot of retail therapy or relax at one of many friendly cafes or restaurants.
If you are looking for a land based activity in Paihia then you are almost as spoilt for choice as those on the water. You could do a bush walk or horse trek or you could challenge yourself at Action World, an award winning adventure park that features a range of activities like high wire walks, harness-free rock climbing and the flying trapeze.
For the slightly less adventurous, there is also a 18 hole mini golf challenge set amongst manuka trees, plus a water slide and bbq facilities.
Whatever you decide to do in Paihia, you can be sure that it'll offer a stunning scenic backdrop and temperate conditions.
"We have been visiting for a number of years now ever since the youngest of us were lucky enough not to have a day job. Our welcome has always been such that we both feel we are now part of the wider f..."