Winterless North-Bay of Islands

In September 2020 we unpacked the car in Paihia and stayed two months in Northland’s wildly beautiful Far North. Here are my favorite walks/daytrips around the blue dot on the map: Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri.

Paihia – Bay of Islands Gateway

Paihia was our base – a small seaside tourist community.

My Favorite Walk – Paihia to Opua

Two hours one-way, from town to town…must have done this walk at least once a week.

Historic Russell

The full Opua Coastal Walk (8.2 km) loops across the water through Russell via two ferries, a forest and a mangrove.

Russell/Kororāeka- a town of historic debauchery prior to the Waitaingi Treaty (CLICK HERE. “It earned a very bad reputation as a community without laws and full of prostitution. It became known as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific”, despite the translation of its name being ‘How sweet is the penguin'”, (source: wikipedia/Russell New Zealand).

We stayed a week in Tapeka Bay, Russell at the north end of the peninsula – every day a new trail.

Tapeka Hill Track

Jim’s Walk

Waipiro Bay Near Russell

The Hole in the Rock – Sailing from Russell

The BEST – Urupukapuka Island

Urupukapuka (“a group of puka trees“), NZ’s largest pest-free reserve, is the largest of 144 islands in the Bay of Islands. Trails meander alongside grazing sheep. (Be mindful of the gates and the poop.)


Kerikeri, 30 minutes from Paihia, is a larger town with retirement appeal: ample shops and services.

The Kerikeri River Track commences behind The Stone Store (an 1822 Mission Station) NZ’s oldest surviving stone building. Treks to multiple waterfalls are through forests with giant old soul trees.

Rainbow Falls – 27 meters (88 ft)

The River Track is 2-hour walk to the falls (or 10 minutes from a carpark).

Wharepuke Falls (enroute to Rainbow Falls on the River Track)

Te Wairere – “The Waterfall” (aka Secret Waterfall)

Lost for 60 years, this 2-hour trail reopened in 2017.

Charlies’s Rock

A sweet swimming hole. The track was not accessible (“temporarily closed”), unless you climbed over the ditch and balanced over the waterworks-in-progress, and pushed on. (I wasn’t the only one!)

Haruru – “Big Noise”

Three-hour walk from Paihia via the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (or 5 minutes from a carpark). Māori legend says a water monster (tainwha) lives in the lagoon.

I did a lot of walking…Steve’s joy was Omata Vineyard, Russell.

Next Posts: Short drives east/north from Kerikeri are heaps of coastal walks with breathless views, and west are ancient kauri forests. At the tiptop is Cape Reinga – take a deep breath and click HERE to view the post Cape Reinga – Where Spirts Soar.

8 thoughts on “Winterless North-Bay of Islands

  1. Marlene thanks for sharing these blogs as always! I trust you and Steve are safe and unaffected by the recent earthquakes.

    1. We are fine…made it through the day long tsunami alert unscathed. We had a coastal hike planned for today, but postponed when the alerts went off. Key word “coastal”.

    2. Great to hear all is well!

  2. Beyond gorgeous! I recall that our original itinerary called for maybe three nights in Paihia??? Clearly not enough!

  3. Thank you again for sharing all these gorgeous views, texts and overlooks !

    Hope you are safe and NOT affected by the recent earthquake !!!! ( but I hear no tsunami and no damage! For now)
    Byee Marijke

    1. We were fine..we are on the east coast, a few hours north. While some of our neighbors felt it…we slept through it. We did change our plans as today’s agenda was a coastal hike. When the tsunami warnings were extended for the day (and specifically for the area of the hike), we decided to postpone. Don’t want to be in the news as “one of those people”!

  4. Truly mind blowing. Is there anywhere on earth with this kind of beauty? Glorious in every way. Thank you for taking us there with you. xo

  5. Happy to hear from you again. And boy, does this make me homesick. We sailed into Opua from New Caledonia and spent several years off and on (we weren’t allowed to stay more than 6 months at a time, I believe) at the marina in Opua. Gorgeous area (as is so much of NZ!) Your pics are spectacular! I think I’ll be seeing you sometime soon?

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