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Travel guide

Paihia & Waitangi attractions, things to do and places to visit

  • 4 minutes

21 things you can do in Paihia

Location, location, location Paihia is ideally situated to visit several New Zealand top attractions from Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the place where modern Aotearoa New Zealand started its journey to Russell with its intriguing 19th century stories.

Paihia is the gateway to Northland and Far North due to its central location and services. The resort town thrives on visitors with cafes, gift shops and businesses catering to the tourist trade.


Get the kids to look out for opportunistic stingrays swimming under the Paihia wharf  enjoying the bounty from fishing charter boats. A good time to watch this pastime is between 4.00 – 5.00 pm when the charter boats drop fish frames in the water.


  1. Join a half day or full day scenic cruise and explore the blue waters of the Bay of Island and explore the Bay of Islands.
  2. Make sure you check out the Hole in the Rock and grab a selfie.
  3. Visit Urupukapuka Island where sustainable tourism gets a big tick.
  4. Consider a day volunteering for Project Birdsong. check out Responsible travel: Auckland – Upper North Island road trip – Best Bits for details on Urupukapuka Island.
Hiking trail on Urupukapuka Island, New Zealand
Hiking trail on Urupukapuka Island


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Haruru Waterfall in New Zealand
Haruru Waterfall in New Zealand
  1. Go for a walk, climb the surrounding hills and try to spot Whales & Dolphins from Paihia.
  2. Catch a yacht and join an adventure cruise in the Bay of Islands.
  3. Walk to the heart of New Zealand history, Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
  4. Scuba Dive or snorkel in the Bay of Islands warm subtropical water, wetsuits not required.
  5. Kayak to Haruru waterfalls.
  6. Enjoy a hangi meal at Waitangi Treaty Grounds and spend time exploring the historic heartland of modern New Zealand.
  1. Go fishing from Paihia wharf with the locals or join a fishing charter.
  2.  Visit Mangonui for the day and find out why people eat fish n chips from the wharf
  3. Find a lake where water is optional. Sometimes known as Coca Cola
  4. Spend time soaking in the warm geothermal natural springs of Ngawha where the locals have been for hundreds of years.
  5. Find out more about Maori culture at Footsteps of Kupe in Omapere.
  6. Explore the oldest continuous trading general store in New Zealand in Kerikeri
Ngawha Hot Springs, New Zealand
Ngawha Hot Springs
Christ Church, Russell, New Zealand
Christ Church Russell
  1. Enjoy the vibrant Kerikeri art scene and bustling main street with its cafes, galleries and gift shops.
  2. Catch the ferry to Russell and find out why the printing press at Pompallier played such a dramatic role in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand.
  3. Go beach walking between Paihia and Russell following the footsteps of many.
  4. Challenge yourself to find the famous flagpole location where incensed locals chopped down the British union jack (flag) several times in protest.
  5. Visit a unique museum specialising in whaling, the Butler Point Whaling Museum – Best Bits.

A minimum time period is 2 – 3 hours to visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds from Treaty House, museum, outdoor exhibits and the grounds.


  • Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi – the museum presents the events leading up to, during, and after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • Te Rau Aroha Museum of the Price of Citizenship – the museum commemorates the commitment and sacrifice of Māori in the NZ armed forces.
  • Treaty House – where the final touches were made to the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840
  • Te Whare Rūnanga – beautiful carved meeting house reflecting the stories and carving styles of tribes across New Zealand.
  • Cultural performances, guided tours and the option of an evening hāngi (sunken earth cooking) dinner
  • Wander among the lush subtropical gardens and relax on the sweeping swathe of lawn as you soak up views of the Bay.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
@Waitangi Treaty Ground
@Waitangi Treaty Ground

Step into a world where history and culture converge, where the spirit of Aotearoa comes alive. Embark on a journey through time at the iconic Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Aotearoa New Zealand’s top historic site.

As you explore the Treaty Grounds, you will be transported back to the pivotal moment in 1840 when Māori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown gathered to sign the Treaty of Waitangi, forging a partnership that would shape the nation’s future.

Admission to the Treaty Grounds is valid for two consecutive days and includes access to all museums, heritage buildings, the world’s largest ceremonial waka and the full programme of tours and performances. In summer Hāngi & Concert evenings are scheduled – an intimate cultural experience not to be missed.

For visitors fascinated by Maori culture, Waitangi Treaty Ground is the nexus for attractions from Rotorua to Hokitika.


Take time to explore Northland Maori stories and visit Footsteps of Kupe where Maori operators explain the relationship between themselves and the world around them.


Paihia to Omapere 88 km


Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed by Maori chiefs and the British Crown on 6 February 1840.

You can walk from Paiha to Waitangi on a firm wide path. The walk is approximately 27 min (2.2 km). The walk is via Te Karuwha Parade and State Hwy 11.


  • Pompallier Mission & Printery
  • Duke of Marlborough Victorian hotel gracing the foreshore
  • Art galleries and gifts shops
  • Historic buildings from churches with bullet holes to the local museum
Duke of Marlborough, Russell, New Zealand
Duke of Marlborough Russell

No, you don’t need a car to visit Russell. Russell is a small town and walkable. Russell is framed by hills with a sandy foreshore overlooking Kororareka Bay. There are several hills that surround the basin where Russell sits.


Relax, don’t drive to Russell, catch the passenger ferry and arrive in the heart of the heritage village opposite the Victorian elegance of the Duke of Marlborough hotel.

The best place for visitor information about Northland is Paihia. Paihia is home to a large comprehensive visitor centre conveniently located next to the wharf where Fullers operate a number of cruises and the Paihia to Russell ferry operates as well.

Yes you can drive to Russell. The usual route is the winding road from Paihia to the car ferry at Okiato. Expect delays during the peak season to board the ferry which operates a first come, first on system. The short 15 minute ferry ride is very pleasant with views of the harbour activity and the holiday vibe among the passengers. The Okiato car ferry does not accept foot passengers.


Russell is a small settlement and parking can be an issue. Expect to walk several blocks to the town centre in the peak season.

Yes, you can walk between Paihia and Russell. Follow the coastline and explore Okiato Historic Reserve. The walk requires a degree of fitness and parts of the coast are not accessible during high tide. Okiato is a good small reserve worth a visit if you are in the Russell area. You have access to the Okiato to Russell Community walkway from the reserve. Alltrails NZ have an excellent description of the walk, .

Russell, or Kororareka was the first permanent European settlement and seaport in New Zealand. Russell started life as a whaling port in the Far North of New Zealand.

The ferry ride between Paihia and Russell is only 15 minutes or so. Northland ferries operate both the Paihia and Hokianga ferries. Check online for your tickets.

Paihia is home to Paihia Town Beach. It is popular with holidaymakers as the safe swimming beach has shops across the road and a handy coffee cart parked on the foreshore. It is an ideal spot to launch kayaks. The annual open ocean water swim between Russell and Paihia finishes at Paihia Town Beach.

The warmest month to swim is in February with an average around 21.4°C. The coldest month is August with an average water temperature of  15.3°C.

Check out Bay of Islands beaches, top picks and find a romantic spot for couples to relax in peace and quiet or a safe family beach for groups.

There are several places to go within one hour from Paihia. Mangonui is an ideal family day trip with the promise of fish n chips on the beach or a day in Kerikeri. Kerikeri offers visitors choice from weekend markets, a fascinating heritage listed Stone Store located in the Kororipo Heritage Precinct or easy walks to Rainbow falls.

Mangonui is a chance to celebrate New Zealand cuisine with the taste of freshly caught fish. It’s fish n chips heaven with a picturesque harbour to whoof down the lightly battered, crisp joy. Walk off the fried goodness with a short energetic heritage walk, an interesting art gallery and quirky local shops. Doubtless Bay and the inner harbour of Mangonui are steeped in history.


HOW TO GET TO PAIHIA, Bay of Islands by car

Driving from Auckland to Paihia is a 3 hour trip (non-stop) on busy New Zealand state highway one. For holidaymakers take the slow lane and explore well known tourist attractions, Waitangi and Kerikeri and find hidden corners.

Delve into east coast towns and find out the charm of New Zealand’s second oldest pub and the town where kauri logs forever changed a harbour. From east to west coast explore Northland, both the familiar tourist places such as Kerikeri, Waitangi and Russell and the east coast Hokianga harbour and small settlements. You will visit quirky private museums and national heritage sites such as Waitangi. Visitors can indulge their senses in a luxurious hilltop vineyard chalet and spend the night in a holiday park nestled among a kiwi reserve. It is a journey of contrasts as you loop through Northland, the top of Aotearoa New Zealand.


This is an overview of the route, for detailed options check sections below.

Auckland, Tutukaka Coast, Russell, Waitangi, Mangonui, Ahipara, Rawene, Dargaville, Auckland.


  • Tutukaka coast and Poor Knight Marine Reserve
  • Charming Victorian heritage Russell where whalers met the locals (18th century)
  • Quirky places from Totara North, Mangonui and Matauri Bay
  • Extraordinary landscapes from Cape Reinga, Koutu boulders, mountainous gold sand dunes and ancient Kauri trees
  • Hear the stories of migration and settlement at Footsteps of Mana (Kupe) and Matakohe Kauri Museum
  • Soak away the cares of the world in NZ best kept secret Ngawha Hot Pools

… read more about Northland twin coast discovery road trip, Auckland to the Bay of Islands.

Poor Knights Island sea cave diving experience, New Zealand
Poor Knights Island sea cave diving experience

There is plenty of choice with premier sites on the seafront and cheaper motel options located several blocks from the foreshore.

Check out 11 Cheap Accommodation options in Bay of Islands New Zealand or you want to go camping, check out 13 camping grounds in Waitangi Russell, Paihia and Kerikeri – Best Bits.


No, you cannot fly directly to Paihia; however Air New Zealand operates a daily regional service between Auckland (and other centres) to Kerikeri.

Kerikeri is a short distance from Paihia, 23 min (23.7 km), via State Hwy 11 and State Hwy 10.

As the gateway to Northland, Paihia has daily public bus services. There are several companies operating in the area.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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