10 Fun Things to Do in Bay of Islands in Winter

10 Fun Things to Do in Bay of Islands in Winter

Looking for ideas on what to do in the Bay of Islands once winter hits? We’re listing all of our top choices in this article, along with important information such as pricing and how to book the activities!

1. Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Image from Wikimedia
WEBSITE https://www.waitangi.org.nz/visit/treaty-house
ADDRESSTau Henare Drive, Waitangi 0293, New Zealand
CONTACT NUMBER+64 9 402 7437
OPERATING HOURS09:00 AM to 05:00 PM (Everyday)
PRICEAdult (New Zealander): $30.00

Adult: $60.00

Child: Free (below 18 years old)

If you’re a history buff, then we highly recommend you to go to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds as it witnessed a lot of important historical events. The place is sometimes called the Treaty House, Busby House, or the British Residency. 

The Treaty House is where New Zealand’s first British Government official originally resided. The United Tribes of New Zealand adopted the country’s first flag here.

It is also where James Busby drafted the 1835 Declaration of Independence. The Treaty of Waitangi was polished here before being read to the chiefs.

Admission to this house includes full access to all the heritage buildings and museums, such as the Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, Te Rau Aroha Museum of the Price of Citizenship, a guided tour around the Treaty House, and a Māori cultural experience.

It’s educational, fun, and indoors. So it’s the perfect thing to do during winter. 

2. Visit Kerikeri’s Kemp House and the Stone Store.

WEBSITE https://www.visitboi.co.nz/listing/stone-store-kemp-house
ADDRESS246 Kerikeri Road, Kerikeri Basin 0230, New Zealand
CONTACT NUMBER+64 9 407 9236
OPERATING HOURS10:00 AM to 05:00 PM (November - April)

10:00 AM to 04:00 PM (May - October)

PRICEAdults: $10.00

Children: $3.50 (when unaccompanied, otherwise they are free)

The Kerikeri Mission Station is where two of New Zealand’s most ancient buildings are found. These are the Kempo House and the Stone Store.

The Kerikeri Mission Station, founded in 1819, is one of the places where Māori granted visitors a place to stay. The local Māori chiefs protected the place because they wanted to trade with Europeans for their technology.

George Clarke was the first lay missionary to live in the Kemp House. James Kemp, his family, and his descendants continued to live in the house after him, and later, Ernest Kemp presented the house to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in 1974.

The Church Missionary Society built the Stone Store to serve as a storehouse for the mission. After the mission was closed, the Kemp family took over the house until 1976, when the New Zealand Historic Places Trust bought it.

During the guided tour, you will hear stories about warriors, inebriated seamen, and devout missionaries who tried to spread Christianity to the Māori from the tour guides. 

We highly recommend this activity for families. We think this can be an educational yet fun activity for both adults and kids. 

3. Stroll around Te Tii Beach.

WEBSITE https://www.visitboi.co.nz/best-beaches-bay-islands/te-tii-bay-waitangihoildaypark/
ADDRESSTe Tii Beach Waitangi, Paihia, New Zealand

Te Tii is a golden sand beach that is suitable for swimming and fishing. It is located towards Waitangi from Paihia so you can spot it easily.

Calm seas characterize Te Tii, so we recommend strolling around the beautiful beach and enjoying the sights. The beach also has a playground, which makes it perfect for families who have children.

If you get tired, you can sit under the shade of the Pohutukawa trees nearby. Although there are places to buy takeout around the area, a lot of people prepare picnic baskets. 

4. Take a walk at the Historic Flagstaff Hill Track.

Take a walk at the Historic Flagstaff Hill Track
Image from Department of Conservation New Zealand
WEBSITE https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/northland/places/russell-area/things-to-do/flagstaff-hill-track/
ADDRESSFlagstaff Hill Track, Russell 0202, New Zealand
CONTACT NUMBER+64 9 407 0300

Flagstaff Hill is an important historic site in New Zealand. This is where Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson first hoisted the Union Jack in 1840. The Union Jack was the country’s official flag from then to 1902. 

Ngāpuhi chief Hōne Heke chopped the Union Jack multiple times in protest against British rule. These are just some facts that you can learn there. 

The track is only 2.5 kilometers long and is easily walkable, based on our experience. The track can take 30 minutes if you’re walking at a leisurely pace.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to see the North Island weka, which is an endangered species of bird. They were protected and placed in this area by the Russell Landcare Trust.

You can reach the track at high tide at the intersection of Wellington and Kent Streets which has a signpost. This would take you to Kororareka Reserve.

On the other hand, during low tide, you can walk towards the north of The Strand near the beaches until Watering Bay. This would take you to the coastal forest and reach Titore Way.

The track is not designed for bicycles or mountain bikes, so cycling is prohibited. Freedom camping is also not allowed on Flagstaff hill.

5. Visit the Pompallier Mission and Printery. 

Visit the Pompallier Mission and Printery
Image from Visit The Heritage
WEBSITE https://www.visitheritage.co.nz/visit/northland/pompallier-mission-and-printery
ADDRESS5 The Strand On the waterfront Russell 0202
CONTACT NUMBER+64 9 403 9015
OPERATING HOURS10:00 AM to 05:00 PM (Everyday)
PRICEAdult Guided Tour: $20.00

Adult Garden Self-guided: $10.00

Coffee Croissant and Culture Tour: $29.50

Children (18 years old and below): Free

The Pompallier Mission and Printery is a French-style printery that doubles as a tannery that can show you a specific aspect of Māori and Pakeha history. 

The French Marist Brothers founded a Catholic Mission in Russell. The Mission built a printery to translate Catholic texts to the native tongue, Te Reo Māori, which was then printed and bound.

You’ll be able to see the Mission’s printing press in working condition. The tour guides will walk you through the tanning process, from removing hair to softening the leather using traditional hand tools.

You may also be able to produce your original print using the common press. It really gives a deep insight into the 19th-century printing and bookbinding process. 

6. Visit the Russell Museum Whare Taonga o Kororāreka.

WEBSITE https://www.russellmuseum.org.nz/
ADDRESS2 York Street, Russell, 0202, New Zealand
CONTACT NUMBER+64 9 403 7701
OPERATING HOURS10:00 AM to 04:00 (Everyday)
PRICEAdult: $12.00

Student: $6.00

Child (with Parent; 14 years old and below): Free

Senior: $10.00

Family Pass (2 Adults + 4 Children): $24.00

The Russell Museum helps to remind people of the stories of Kororāreka and the eastern Bay of Islands, Īpipiri. The museum tells the story of the first Polynesians, the first Europeans and the first settlers in the land.

The museum has a lot of collections that are carefully and masterfully preserved that exhibit Russell’s history. Īpipiri is one of the newest exhibits on display in the museum.

Īpipiri is an interactive digital map that tells two stories. The stories add a different dimension to telling New Zealand’s history in the museum.

The first story is about how Tupaia, a Tahitian priest and navigator, deescalated the violence between Pākehā and Māori. The second story is about Māori beliefs about the beginning of time, Aotearoa and Īpipriri.

There are also other artefacts in the museum and even a model of Captain Cook’s ship. Finally, you can also see the cottage of respected Northland chieftain Tāmati Wāka Nene.

7. Take a Scenic Helicopter Ride over the Bay of Islands

Take a Scenic Helicopter Ride over the Bay of Islands
Image from Salt Air
WEBSITE https://www.saltair.co.nz/bay-of-islands-scenic-flights-tours/bay-of-islands-helicopter-scenic-flights/
ADDRESSMarsden Road, Paihia 0247, New Zealand
CONTACT NUMBER+64 9 402 8338
OPERATING HOURS08:30 AM to 06:00 PM (Everyday)
PRICEHole in the Rock - 20 minutes: $270.00 per person

Coastal Discovery: $360.00 per person

35 Minutes Experience with Hole in the Rock Landing: $419.00 per person

45 Minutes Experience with Hole in the Rock Landing: $419.00 per person

Guided 1 Hour Experience with Hole in the Rock Landing: $645.00 per person

A helicopter ride above Bay of Islands clear turquoise waters and white sands is unforgettable. We highly recommend trying this experience once in your life.

You can land on the Hole in the Rock, and either the pilot or a local Māori guide will guide you. They will share the history and cultural and environmental significance of the island.

There are many options to choose from. You can go on a 20-hour experience and a 1-hour experience. 

Hole in the Rock is a 20-minute experience that offers fantastic views of the Bay of Islands – especially, you guessed it, the Hole in the Rock.

Coastal Discovery is an extension of the first experience. This experience adds more flight time to view the coastline of the eastern Cape Brett peninsula.

The Hole in The Rock Landing experience offers a chance to land on the island and have the opportunity to take more photos. Lastly, the guided hour-long tour allows you to explore the island with a local Māori guide that would last for 30 minutes.

8. Dine in The Duke of Marlborough Restaurant.

Dine in The Duke of Marlborough Restaurant
Image from The Duke of Marlborough
WEBSITE https://www.theduke.co.nz/eat-and-drink
ADDRESS35 The Strand, Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
CONTACT NUMBER+64 9 403 7829
OPERATING HOURS11:30 AM to 09:00 PM (Everyday)
PRICEDepends on the food but ranges from $3.50 to $99.00

The Duke of Marlborough Restaurant offers a wide range of selection of local food to choose from. We like that they’re great for families because they have a kids’ menu and great service overall.  

What we love about this restaurant is its availability of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. It’s very inclusive.

The restaurant is located on the waterfront of Russell and is at the hotel’s heart. They recommend discussing the menu options and requirements beforehand if you have a large group or event.

They also have a virtual tour on their website to give you a sneak peek of their restaurant. Check it out here

9. Visit a specialty chocolate shop. 

Visit a specialty chocolate shop
Image from Moon Gate Villa
WEBSITE https://www.makana.co.nz/
ADDRESS504 Kerikeri Road, P.O. Box 628, Kerikeri 0245, New Zealand
CONTACT NUMBER+64 9 407 6800
OPERATING HOURS09:00 AM to 05:30 PM (Everyday)
PRICEDepends on the item but chocolates range from $20.00 to upwards of $100.00+

If you’re the type of person to bring home gifts, then a visit to Makana is highly recommended. They specialize in creating artisanal chocolates designed for gift-giving.

They use the best natural ingredients that are available. Their shop is designed like a winery wherein you can watch through a glass window while they make their famous confectionery.

They also give out samples for you to taste! So you’ll know that what they make is of top-notch quality and taste it for yourselves. 

As chocolate lovers, we loved the whole experience! We’re sure kids and kids at heart will like this too. 

Their macadamia butter toffee crunch is to die for. We highly recommend it, but note that once you start eating, it’ll be hard for you to stop.

They have a next-door café that offers pastries and decadent hot chocolate perfect for the harsh winter.

10. Heat yourself up with some great wine.

Heat yourself up with some great wine
Image from Omata Estate
WEBSITE https://www.omata.co.nz/find-us
ADDRESS212 Aucks Road, RD1, Russell 0272 , Bay of Islands, New Zealand
CONTACT NUMBER+64 9 403 8007
OPERATING HOURS11:00 AM to 06:00 PM (Thursday - Monday)
PRICETasting Flight: $16.00

Cellar Door: $10.00

Michael Cooper, the country’s most famous wine writer, rated Omata Estate five stars and gave it great compliments in The Listener magazine. Omata is thus widely considered one of the premier wineries and vineyards in the Bay of Islands.

Omata has already won international accolades and is always looking to improve its viticulture using sustainable and best practices. 

They offer two types of wine tasting: a tasting flight and a cellar door. The tasting flight is a sample of 4 wines (equal to 1 full glass of wine) which can be enjoyed at your table with a meal.

On the other hand, a cellar door is tasting in a small cellar door with 4 small tasters. You will be guided by one of their staff, who will also share tips and other places to visit.