Glorious sunshine, crystal-clear waters and and picturesque beaches. That's what we think happens ALL THE TIME in the Bay of Islands. The evidence is everywhere, on every brochure, postcard and website. But the reality is, when you get there, you might just catch that one day when it's grey, wet and just meh.
So, if you do happen to find yourself in the Bay of Islands, on a gloomy rainy day, there actually ARE things to do! We've put together our top list of 8 awesome things you can do in the Bay of Islands, come rain or shine.
1. The Duke of Marlborough
Situated in Russell (over the bay from Paihia), The Duke of Marlborough hotel can trace its history all the way back to 1827, when it was opened as 'Johnny Johnston's Grog Shop'. Thankfully, both The Duke and Russell have moved on from 19th century infamy, and the 'Hell Hole of the Pacific' is now a charming waterfront town and a must-do for any visitors to the region. The Duke offers a range of beautifully finished rooms and one of the best dining experiences in the area. Alternatively, if you fancy something a bit more casual, check out The Duke Tavern just around the corner.
2. The K4 Brewery
The home of K4 Cultured Brews. Enjoy a guided tour and tasting of K4 Kombucha and Cultured Foods and see where the magic happens! Answer all your questions about Kombucha, fermented foods, sauerkraut and turmeric; and peek behind the scenes to learn how they ferment the K4 way. If you're the outdoors type and arrived in Haruru courtesy of the Haruru Falls track from Waitangi, the K4 Brewery is just a few hundred metres further on, so head up the hill past the ponies for a refreshment and a chat.
The K4 Brewery is open 10am - 3pm, Monday - Saturday. Learn more here.
3. Waitangi Mountain Bike Park
Yes, this is a list of things to do in the Bay of Islands on a rainy day, but we never promised that they would all be indoors. In fact, we're pretty sure that a lot of you will find it even more fun to ride in the rain (who doesn't secretly love splashing in muddy puddles?). This community-funded park is located just a few kilometres down the road from Paihia, near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It features over 40km of trails for everyone from absolute beginners to seasoned pros, all through the beautiful scenery of the Waitangi Endowment Forest.
More info here.
4. Ngawha Springs
Another outdoors thing to do on a rainy day, but trust us, you'll actually enjoy being sprinkled with fresh rain when you're there. These naturally occurring hot springs were discovered in the 1600s by the local Mãori and have been used ever since. They range from toasty warm to seriously hot (over 50 degrees!), but all of them are the perfect place for a soak. Even if it's blowing a gale, sit back in one of the wooden tubs, relax in the geothermal waters, and be one with nature (rain and all).
More info right here.
5. Dive the Bay of Islands
It doesn't rain or blow a gale underwater... besides, you'll be so engrossed in the marine world you'll not be thinking of grey skies anyway. Jump in with the Paihia Dive crew and spend the day as a human dolphin learning how to dive. Paihia Dive is a friendly, family-run business with years of experience that caters to beginners and experienced divers alike. And the waters of the Bay of Islands are nothing short of magnificent.
More info here.
6. Makana Chocolate Factory
Yep, you read that right. A proper Willy Wonka type CHOCOLATE FACTORY! One of only two such Makana factories in New Zealand, and located a twenty minute drive from the Bay of Islands in Kerikeri. Makana deal in beautiful, handmade chocolates made right in front of your eyes from the freshest ingredients. Their attached café has a wonderful range of delectable indulgences, so really there's no need to ever leave! I mean, we wouldn't...
More info available right here.
7. The Old Packhouse Market
Directly over the road from the Makana Café you will find The Old Packhouse Market. Saturday mornings from 8am - 1:30pm for the freshest seasonal produce and culinary delights Northland has to offer, and Sunday mornings from 9am - 1:30pm for health and wellness and fun. This is one of the best farmers markets in all of Aotearoa - no joke. You'll find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to handmade gifts to craft beer, all wrapped up in wonderful Kiwi hospitality and with live music to boot! Best of all for those drizzly days, it's almost entirely under cover.
More info right here.
8. Kerikeri Mission House
Love a little history? Here's a place to fill your historical cup. Although New Zealand is a young country in terms of human history (compared to the rich pasts of Europe and afar), we do still have a story to tell. Kerikeri Mission Station was established in 1819 and was one of the first places where Mãori invited visitors to live among them. It is also the site of two of New Zealand's oldest buildings: Kemp House (1821-22) and the Stone Store (1837), which houses a charming shop and museum. And if you fancy a bite to eat, the Honey House Café behind Kemp House has got you covered for lunches and light bites, and The Pear Tree for anything more substantial including gourmet dining.