a VirtualTourist member from Melbourne
Can anyone tell us the best town to stay as a base for the Bay of Islands area?
Also any recommendations for good medium grade accommodation in the area
We are 2 couples planning to visit in early January 07
Personally I do like Russell much more than Paihia. The last town is much more touristy and the small centre is sometimes overcrowded. Russell has its own charm and is rather quiet, specially when the other tourists are disappeared.
But I can imagine you do like this hustle and bustle.
From both towns tou can make boat trips to the Bay of Islands and there are several ferries sailing between the to towns.
(A must see are the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where modern New Zealand was born)
See for more info my Northland/New Zealand page.
Paihia ('Pie here')can get very busy and accommodation is pricey and so we have stayed in Kerikeri on our visits to the Bay of Islands - it's quieter, an attractive town in its own right with plenty of attractions (don't miss the kaleidoscope museum) yet not far from the Bay of Islands. We stayed in the YHA there which was excellent and also at the Twin Pines, also excellent. Russell is also an option, across the Bay, olde worlde and much quieter than Paihia again. Hope this helps.
Yes. Kerikeri could be a good alternative. We stayed in a B&B with very pleasant hosts. The name was "Ferns Bed & Breakfast".
Kerikeri as a base is definitely worth considering. We have NZ's two oldest buildings, Kemp House and the Stone Store, where the first mission station was established. Just across the river is Rewa's Village, a replica of a pre-contact kainga.
Plenty of good places to eat. Also plenty of tourists in January, but not as high a proportion as Paihia, because we also have some genuine locals who make a living here beyond tourism. ;-)
I can't recommend accomodation, since I never need it, but www.kerikeri.co has info on a range of places for you to choose from.
Many thanks everyone for your advice.
Will check out Russell and Kerikeri.
Have already been checking Paihia, but January prices are depressing!!
I was trying to find a good map for Kerikeri. The only one I found - shows like Kerikeri is inland rather than on the coast. Is that right?
No, Kerikeri is a village on the mainland.
Try for a map: www.wises.co.nz
Thanks [VT member 7c27b],
Looks like if we want to be near the beach, it will have to be Paihia!
Russell has also a beach
Yes that would be nice, but Russell seems even more expensive than Paihia.
Its a pity about Kerikeri. It looked nice. Seeing as we will be there in
mid-summer, being near the beach is a main consideration.
Thanks for your help
I'm sure you will enjoy your trip !!!
why don't you consider staying at haruru falls only a five min drive to Paihia its nice and quiet and theres camping ground there with two bedroom cabins if thats not nice enough theres a hotel sort of lodge checkout the jasons website for that area should give a few options of accomodation Should be a little cheaper i would think.
you could also look at holidayhomes.co.nz
goodluck and i hope I have been some help.
Thanks [VT member 85503]! I check out Hararu Falls!
Very good idea with Haruru Falls. The rates are great.
When talking about Russell (and not only about the room rates) you must always consider that every time you want to go to the mainland you either need the ferry to Opua or have to drive endless miles around the harbour.
As I have friends in Opua I cannot recommend any accommodation but checking out the Jasons Motels guide I saw quite a number of not really depressing rates in Paihia. Have you browsed this already? Or: Where do the rates start which make you depressive?
Two couples can always share a motel accommodation with two bedrooms, this makes the whole thing a lot cheaper.
Thanks [VT member b47ab] for your advice. I ended up getting a place in Paihia and also deciding on Go Rentals as our car rental company.
Do you have any advice re our next stop - Coromandel Peninsula?
We are not sure which would be the best town to stop at on way to Rotorua.
Coromandel would be a nice stop on your way to Rotorua; it has some very nice beaches, among them the most beautiful of New Zealand: Cathedral Cove.
If you are interested in seeing the giant kauri trees, you could consider driving along the west coast through Waipoua Forest and just north of Auckland Muriwai Beach with an interesting gannet colony. Otherwise you could visit on your way south Goat Island, a marine reserve near Warkworth/Leigh.
Sorry, I have not been on virtualtourist for quite a while but I think it is still early enough to inform you about my favourite place on the Coromandel. Sure, there are nice places like Cathedral Cove, Cooks Beach and Hotwater Beach (this really is something - apart from the sandflies that will bite you in the late afternoon... so do not forget insect repellant)...
But - for me the top spot is Paku Hill which is part of Tairua. I have been there many times and I always stay there. The camel shaped hill is surrounded by the sea on three sides. You can drive up the hill to a small car park, and then you have to walk up to the summit for about 10 to 15 minutes. From there you have such an incredible 360° view to the sea, the Broken Hills, Tairua, the Tairua River and Pauanui on its peninsula. It is absolutely breathtaking. There are plenty of accommodation and restaurants in Tairua, so a great place to stay, and it is not far to Cathedral Cove and many other great spots. There are some nice walks, too, and they even have Kauri trees in the area, for example next to HW25 the Twin Kauri Reserve. You can also make a little boat tour on the Tairua River and explore the palaces of the rich in the canals of Pauanui.
A great way to get to Tairua (and the other places on the East side of the Coromandel is a gravel road from Tapu (North of Thames) to Coroglen. It is rough, so only do it in good weather conditions. But this is NZ and the Coromandel at its best.
Another nice drive is further North the drive back to the West Coast to Coromandel Town where you can go for a ride on the Driving Creek Railway through native bush. Although a little touristy it is well worth the visit.
There are great walks in the North of the Peninsula (drive to Colville, Waiaro or Port Charles. Rich people's new favourite sport actually is Matarangi Beach which is developing fast.
If you want to spend a lonesome day in the bush and learn an incredible lot about nature I can highly recommend a guided tour with Doug Johansen(www.kiwidundee.co.nz). He knows every plant and animal and just everything. Even now, years after my tour with him, I still impress people by eating the tips of the Bracken Fern and the stories about Bushman's Soap and Bushman's Friend... ;-)
Yes - and when you are in the Far North you should really go to Waipoua Forest and the giant Kauri trees. Apart from Tane Mahuta and the Four Sisters (?) there is one very nice walk in a kauri forest where you would not meet many tourists. It is further South. If you have enough time turn left near Katui to Trounsen Kauri Park; the road leads back to HW12. If you come back from Kaitaia you can cross Hokianga Harbour (spectacular sand dunes!) by ferry from Kohukohu to Rawene, this shortens the trip extremely and is very scenic.
I have no recommendation for accommodation on the way to Rotorua. If you travel from the Coromandel you can make it to Rotorua easily within a day. If you have more time there are many nice beaches between Waihi and Papamoa. Further inland you can learn everything about kiwifruit in Te Puke.
Do not miss the Agrodome in Rotorua. There are one million tourists at the same time but the sheep show is absolutely funny. It still makes me laugh when I think about it.
Anyone else reading this and heading that way: you can check out maps of the Bay of Islands and get a better idea of the placement of the various towns here: