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Bay of Islands New Zealand Cruise Port Guide


There is no dock in the Bay of Islands that can handle cruise ships , so they all anchor in the bay, just off Russell , and tender ashore. Most will tender close to (a pleasant 25-minute walk along the beach) Paihia, but it all depends on what your ship has arranged on the day. Some take independents to Paihia and ships tours to Waitangi, where there is more room for the buses. A ferry runs from Paihia to Russell and it is only short run across the bay.

Waitangi Wharf has free shuttle buses that will bring passengers to Paihia Wharf.

The tender wharf in Russell is in the middle of the Russell waterfront

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With its warm azure waters, golden beaches and some of the bluest skies on the planet. Some 150 isles, many still secluded, and a handful of coastal towns make up New Zealand's favorite holiday haven. Waitangi is your historic hotbed imbued in Maori myth and legends. Then there's Russell, the tranquil fishing town, Kerikeri with its wineries and orchards, and pretty Paihia, with its semi-central location - the perfect jumping-off point to everything the beautiful Bay of Islands has to offer.

Paihia is the center of the Bay of Islands. Though only a small town, its population swells dramatically in summer. It's a modern town with dozens of motels, restaurants and shops. Only a short passenger ferry ride away, Russell is full of character and charm. It is a smaller, sleepier town with many fine old buildings and a delightful waterfront.

Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty established a British Governor of New Zealand, recognized Maori ownership of their lands and other properties, and gave the Maori the rights of British subjects. The English and Maori versions of the Treaty differed significantly, so there is no consensus as to exactly what was agreed to.

Tours Excursions Transportation:

The townships of Paihia and Russell are small and easily explored on foot.

The free shuttles drop you at Paihia Wharf and in the township of Paihia, where you can explore the shops and craft markets.

Head over to the Paihia Art and Craft Market on the Paihia Village Green on Marsden Rd.

The Village Green is the home to one of the best authentic Northland art and craft markets. With 16 stalls, the Market offers shoppers the opportunity to meet artists and crafters in person and take away something really unique and special.

Please note – the market is only in town when the cruise ships visit.

From Paihia wharf, you can easily catch a short ferry trip to Russell. Ferries to Russell cost NZD$7 one-way and NZD$12 return. Ferries depart every 20 minutes from 7am to 10pm daily.

It pays to compare your cruise line tours here.

Nearby Places:

If swimming alongside dolphins or trawling for the catch of the day isn't thrilling enough, take a powerboat through The Hole in The Rock. This natural passageway was crafted by salt, surf, and the wind. The opening is around 240 ft wide, but from a distance, it looks really tiny. So hold on tight! Sneaking through it at turbo speed is an exhilarating experience, to say the least!

Haruru Falls. Haruru means "big noise". The water falls in a horseshoe shape - very rare and quite spectacular - and Maori legend states that a taniwha (water monster) lives in the lagoon below. You can walk to Haruru Falls along the Waitangi walking track, or drive to Haruru Falls township - which is only 3 km from Paihia. In the 1800s, there were over 100 Maori villages along the Haruru Falls river.

Kawiti Caves Explore the world famous milky way, a cavern filled with glow worms as far as the eye can see. Journey underground through networks of stalactites and stalagmites to hidden chambers like the Waiomio night sky where the glow worms are so close you can almost touch them. 20 km from Paihai.

Shopping and Food

Pottery, paintings and carvings crafted from green stone are just a few of the handmade pieces to pine for along the Kerikeri Art and Craft Trail. You'll even find artisan cheese and better yet, chocolate! Bring a full wallet, and your sweet tooth!

The main shopping area of Paihia is located directly across the road from the wharf.


The New Zealand dollar is used in New Zealand. A few traders do accept foreign currency, particularly in tourist destinations. The conversion from US dollars to NZ dollars is approximate US$1=NZD1.30.

Automatic teller machines (ATMs), locally known as 'the hole in the wall', are available in just about every town.

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English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand. English is universal, and is written with Commonwealth ("British") spelling.

The emergency telephone number in New Zealand is 111.

The public library have public Internet access and free WiFi.

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