An early Christian missionary, Henry Williams, settled in Paihia in 1823 and built New Zealand's first church here. Adjacent Waitangi is where representatives of the English Crown and a number of Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840. The estate is a must-see for anyone interested in New Zealand's history and culture.
Marsden Road is the main waterfront road. The commercial centre is around the junction of Marsden Road and Williams Road. The wharf from where most of the maritime activities depart is here. The Maritime Building next to the wharf houses two tour companies.
Several cruises that depart from Paihia are approved by the Department of Conservation to seek dolphins and whales in the wild. Some tours allow you to swim in the sheltered bay with both common and bottlenose dolphins. Cruises may also see baleen whales, orca, seals, fish, penguins and other sea and bird life.
The Bay of Islands Visitor Information Centre is at the wharf, phone +64 9 402-7345, fax +64 9 402-7314, (email: mailto:email@example.com), open summer 08:00-19:00; shoulder 08:00-18:00; winter 08:00-17:00.
Several tourist coach companies offer daily sightseeing services from downtown Auckland including InterCity and Naked Bus. These services take around 4 hours and may include rest stops and commentary on local history. Many packaged tours include the Bay of Islands in their North Island itinerary.
Regional airlines have flights to Kerikeri Airport from Whangarei and Auckland (the nearest international airport). Paihia is 20 minutes away by car or shuttle van.
You can pretty much walk everywhere.
- Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Waitangi (30-45 min walk from Paihia). 26 Dec-31 Mar 09:00-19:00, 1 Apr-25 Dec 09:00-17:00. The Waitangi National Trust Treaty Grounds give a unique and fascinating insight into New Zealand's historic past. The Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's most significant document, was first signed here in 1840 between Maori chiefs and the British Crown, and became the basis for modern New Zealand. The grounds are home to the Treaty House, built in 1834, a fully carved Maori meeting house, a large Maori war canoe, a Visitor Centre and Gallery, and a museum that opened in 2016. The grounds were gifted to the nation by Lord and Lady Bledisloe in 1932. You can take a guided tour and/or see a Maori cultural performance, in addition to admission. The website suggests allowing at least 3 hr. Has cafes.
- Dive the Rainbow Warrior wreck (Paihia Dive), Williams Rd, ☎ +64 9 402-7551, toll-free: 0800 107 551, fax: +64 9 402-7110. The Rainbow Warrior was a Greenpeace boat sunk by French secret service agents on 7 July 1985 in Auckland. It was re-floated and then scuttled two years later near the Bay of Islands as an artificial reef. Paihia Dive teach the PADI wreck course using the wreck.
- Bush walks through the Opua forest. The Opua Forest Paihia Lookout Track starts at the end of School Road. One hour return to the viewpoint overlooking the Bay and Russell. 2.5 hours each way for a longer walk.
- Walk the track on the north side of the Waitangi River between the Treaty Grounds and Haruru Falls or join a guided kayak tour for an understanding of how mangrove forests fit into coastal ecology.
- Swim at the long, sandy beach north of the wharf along the road to Waitangi.
- Waitangi Golf Course. In a wonderful setting with majestic ocean views.
- Flying Kiwi Parasail, Paihia or Russell wharf, ☎ +64 9 402-6068, toll-free: 0800 359 691, fax: +64 9 402-6068, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Take off from the back of a boat and soar to 1200 feet above the bay for 10–12 minutes. Single, double or triple. $99 single, $89 per person double or triple.
- Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands. Cream Trip - Day in the Bay ($119), a full day cruise around the Bay of Islands with a possible chance to swim with dolphins ($30 extra). Half-day Dolphin Eco Experience (8AM-noon; noon-3:50PM) - swim with dolphins ($99). Half-day Dolphin Cruise to the Hole in the Rock - dolphin viewing, not swimming ($95). Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach day tours ($119). Licenced by the Department of Conservation to seek dolphins and whales. Most cruises include a trip out the Hole in the Rock and the Cape Brett lighthouse and a portion of every ticket goes to dolphin research in the bay. Also marketed by awesomeNZ.com.
- Carino Sailing & Dolphin Adventures. Depart Paihia 9:30AM, return 3:34PM. Swim with dolphins. Departs from Paihia and Russell. $114.
- The Rock Overnight Cruise. 22 hour cruise, incorporating lots of water activities, island walks, on-board meals, and time to watch the scenery and wildlife.
- Discover the Bay - 'Hole in the Rock' and dolphin viewing cruise. Adult $95. Explore the Bay of Islands while searching for dolphins and visiting the Hole in the Rock. Visit Urupukapuka Island and learn about Project Island Song. Departs from Paihia and Russell. Lasts about 4 hours.
- Lion New Zealand - The ultimate day sail in the Bay. Adult $110. Sail amongst the islands of the Bay on board ex Round the World Race yacht Lion New Zealand. Visit Urupukapuka Island and learn about Project Island Song. There is also a possibility of viewing dolphins and other marine life.
- The Cabbage Tree, two shops: one in Williams Road and one in the Maritime building, ☎ +64 9 402-7318, fax: +64 9 402-7318, e-mail: email@example.com. Every day. New Zealand made gifts and souvenirs, such as possum and merino wool garments, kauri wood bowls and boxes, traditional greenstone (jade) and bone carvings and jewellery.
- Enz of the Earth, Marsden Rd, ☎ +64 9 402 5955. Every day. Gifts from Asia, including womenswear, jewellery, shoes, hats, bags and greenstone.
- Ice Cream and Expresso kiosk. Cnr Marsden and Williams Road. Rush Munro 100% natural ice cream and selection of coffees and iced drinks. Gaze over the Bay and people-watch. Around $4.
- King Wah Restaurant, ☎ +64 9 402-7566. Selwyn Mall. Chinese cuisine. Buffet $29.50 per person.
- Only Seafood, 40 Marsden Rd (above Bistro40), ☎ +64 9 402-6066, fax: +64 9 402-7083, e-mail: Only.Seafood@xtra.co.nz. Every day from 17:00. It is fully licensed and does not take bookings. NZ seafood. Main plus vegetables $30.
- Bistro40, 40 Marsden Rd, ☎ +64 9 402-7444, fax: +64 9 402 7083, e-mail: Bistro40@xtra.co.nz. Open for dinner from 18:00. Housed in a colonial style building circa late 1800s. Best of NZ cuisine. Main plus vegetables $30.
- Otehei Bay Restaurant and Bar, ☎ +64 9 402-8234, toll-free: 0800 DOLPHIN (365 744), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Urupukapuka Island. Every day. Offering a variety of meals and refreshments.
You can't go past the Pipi Patch and the Salty for a good old knees up! Plenty of traditional pubs and bars throughout town, including the Mako pub on the waterfront.
- Atawhai Beachcomber Resort, 1 Seaview Rd, ☎ +64 9 402-7434, toll-free: 0800 732 786, fax: +64 9 402-8202, e-mail: email@example.com. 45 rooms, each with sea views, pool, spa, sauna, tennis, Sky TV. Standard studio $130 off peak, $210 peak.
- Base Bay of Islands, 18 Kings Rd (5 minutes walk from the main bus station at the maritime building, however some of the buses drop off in Kings Road on request), ☎ +64 9 402 7111, toll-free: 0800 BASE NZ (2273 69), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2pm, check-out: 10am. Centrally located with accommodation from private units to share rooms, 50 metres from the beach
- Bay Adventurer Backpackers, 28 Kings Rd, toll-free: 0800 112 127, e-mail: email@example.com. Dorm beds from $22, double from $65, studio from $85, apartments from $100.
- Harbour House Villa, 7 English Bay Rd, Opua, ☎ +64 9 402-8087, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. On a promontory overlooking the Bay of Islands, 5 min. drive from Paihia. Bed & breakfast rooms and 1 & 2 bedroom suites.
- Paihia Central Motel (formerly Bounty Inn), cnr Bayview & Selwyn Rds, ☎ +64 9 402-7088, toll-free: 0800 472 444, fax: +64 9 402-7081, e-mail: email@example.com. Nestled in a quiet bush setting on the waterfront, only 300m from the town centre, self contained accommodation with sea views, balconies, Sky TV & conference venue.
- Paihia Beach Resort and Spa Hotel, 116 Marsden Rd, ☎ +64 9 402-0111, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 5 star resort, New Zealand owned.
- Pickled Parrot Backpackers, Greys Ln (just off the highway on the left as you arrive from Kawakawa), ☎ +64 9 402 6222, toll-free: 0508 PARROT, fax: +64 9 402-6232, e-mail: email@example.com. Great courtyard, complete with a BBQ. There is actually a parrot hanging around and you get a free breakfast. A couple of minutes walk from the beach. Tent sites from $16, dorm beds from $23, doubles/twins from $30, cabins from $32, 2-bedroom flat from $150.
- Pioneer Waterfront Apartments, 44 Marsden Rd, ☎ +64 9 402 7924, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fully self-contained, spacious and comfortable apartments, offering outstanding views from a waterfront location. From $195 p/n.
- Swiss Chalet Lodge Motel, 3 Bayview Rd, ☎ +64 9 402-7615, toll-free: 0800 724 444, fax: +64 9 402-7609, e-mail: email@example.com. 4-star motel. Double studios, family suites and deluxe top floor apartments with sea views, balconies & spa baths, sleep 2-10 people. From $99 (2 people).
- Tanoa Paihia Hotel, 5 Joyces Rd, ☎ +64 9 402-7911, fax: +64 9 402-7729, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 66 rooms near the beaches and dive sites.
- YHA Paihia, corner of Kings Rd and MacMurray Rd. Dorm bed from $22.50, room from $89.10.
The police station is at 45 Williams Rd, opposite the long-stay car park. Phone: +64 9 402-7130 Fax: +64 9 402-6253.