Kerikeri & Bay of Islands top 10 things to do
Kerikeri and the Bay of Islands are packed with fascinating historical sites and all kinds of adventures. They're only 20 minutes apart, so it's easy to include both destinations in your itinerary. Your fun in this part of New Zealand is helped along by a comfortable subtropical climate, friendly locals and a delectable choice of food and wine experiences.
Air New Zealand flies non-stop from Auckland to Kerikeri airport, with connecting flights from main centres and regions throughout New Zealand.
1. Visit Kororipo Heritage Park
This beautiful riverside park includes the Stone Store and Kemp House, which were built by missionaries with the support of local Māori in the early 1800s. The buildings are set beside a waterfall and beneath the site of Kororipo Pā, once the base of the powerful Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika. The Stone Store and its small museum are open to the public and you can take guided tours of Kemp House or wander the terraced pā site.
2. Capture the beauty of Rainbow Falls
Perhaps Kerikeri's most popular waterfall, Rainbow Falls will definitely have you reaching for your camera. There's easy pram access from the end of Rainbow Falls Road or you can walk up the riverside track from the Stone Store. At the base of the 27-metre falls you'll find a popular swimming hole for confident swimmers, so you might want to wear your togs.
3. Shop at the Old Packhouse Markets
On Saturday and Sunday mornings head to the markets at Kerikeri for great food, coffee, fresh local produce, gifts, live entertainment and more. The Saturday market is all about Northland-made produce and products, while the Sunday market has additional stalls for fashion items and vintage treasures.
4. Tour the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Museum
At Waitangi, an easy 20-minute drive from Kerikeri, you can immerse yourself in history and culture where the treaty was signed between Māori chiefs and the Queen of England's representatives in 1840. Wander the extensive grounds, visit the modern museum, enjoy cultural performances, see the intricate carving on the meeting house and ceremonial canoe, and explore the colonial Treaty House.
5. Visit Haruru Falls
An easy 6km walkway, complete with boardwalks over the mangrove wetlands, links Waitangi to beautiful Haruru Falls. Seeing the falls is one of the top free things to do near Kerikeri and Waitangi. Another way to find the falls is on a kayak or traditional Māori waka (war canoe); trips leave from the harbour end of the Waitangi River.
6. Ride the Waitangi mountain bike park
Hire a bike and catch the shuttle for downhill thrills at the huge Waitangi bike park with trails for all abilities. The shuttle service runs on weekends and school holidays. There are also uphill trails if you want a workout before your downhill adventures.
7. Explore Paihia township
Wander the foreshore of this picturesque harbour town, explore the shops, cafés and restaurants and drop into the i-Site visitor information centre to plan your Bay of Islands activities. You can also have a swim or relax at the beach with an ice cream or scrumptious fish and chips.
8. Wander through Russell
Catch the ferry from Paihia to explore this quaint historic town with shops, cafes and restaurants in beautiful colonial buildings. Visit the small museum, climb Flagstaff Hill for spectacular views, and soak up the history at Pompallier House and Christ Church. A downloadable walking tour app provides stories about these main attractions.
9. Sail to the Hole in the Rock
Take a sailboat, ferry or high-speed adventure cruise past idyllic islands to Cape Brett lighthouse and the 18-metre high 'Hole in the Rock' arch. Or get dropped off on an island reserve for hiking, kayaking or relaxing at the beach. A Bay of Islands cruise is one of the most popular things to do near Kerikeri.
10. Dine at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel
Set right on the waterfront of romantic Russell, this gorgeous historic hotel includes a restaurant serving highly-rated lunches and dinners with harbour views. The large main dining room has retained its grand appearance from yesteryear, while tables on the balcony have a more casual alfresco feel.