Complete Guide To Paihia

Paihia is in the heart of the Bay of Islands which makes Paihia the perfect holiday destination with plenty of opportunities to relax and unwind along with some pretty cool sightseeing and adventure activities. There really is something for everyone in Paihia! It only takes a minute or two for you to wander from your apartment at Abri Apartments along to the main shopping street of Paihia where you can browse your way through the shops, stopping for a coffee or a bite to eat at a café / restaurant. Or head to the Paihia Wharf (5 minutes walk) to board your Bay of Islands cruise for a day of dolphin and whale spotting, or try your hand at game fishing, diving, sea kayaking, sailing and much more! Or you might like to wander along the waterfront soaking up the amazing scenery on your way to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (25-30 minutes walk).

Brief History

Paihia is most often identified by its connection to the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which is situated just along the waterfront at the Waitangi National Reserve. It was here that the Treaty of Waitangi was formally signed back in 1840. The Treaty was designed to formalise the relationship between British and Maori settlers. It effectively pronounced Maori to have the “rights and privileges of British Subjects” and is considered New Zealand’s founding document. The ‘Waitangi Treaty Grounds’ is where some local Maori representatives signed this historic document.

What Is The Treaty Of Waitangi?

Representatives of the British Crown produced the Treaty of Waitangi used to claim British Sovereignty over New Zealand. Establishing NZ as a British Colony was said to be so New Zealand residents could be held accountable under British laws, aiding in controlling the country’s apparent “lawless behaviour “at the time. 

At the time, the Treaty was thought of by some local Maori as a way of preserving their way of life as these newcomers laws could prevent further tribal warfare, offer job opportunities and preserve lives. However, opposition to the Treaty was also widespread as some tribes feared losing authority over the sale and settlement of the land.  

Every year New Zealanders commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi with a national holiday known as ‘Waitangi Day’ on 6 February. Cultural performances and ceremonies are held across NZ, with the most significant held at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in Paihia. You may like to book your holiday in Paihia around this date to be part of these celebrations, usually in the week leading up to and including 6 February. See here for more information on the history of Paihia and the Treaty of Waitangi.


Getting To Paihia

If your destination is Paihia, it’s highly likely that the journey will originate from or pass through Auckland. From there, you can enjoy the scenic 3.5 hours drive north in a private car, rental car or public bus. Or you can take a short flight to the Bay of Islands Airport located just outside of Kerikeri, which is about 20 minutes drive from Paihia. 

Paihia serves as the perfect base for further exploration of the Northland region and acts as the gateway to over 100 islands and beautiful beaches. Some of the approximate drive times to popular

Northland destinations are listed below.

  • Paihia to Cape Reinga 2.75 hrs
  • Paihia to Kaitaia 1.5 hrs
  • Paihia to Whangarei 1 hr
  • Paihia to Kaikohe 30 minutes
  • Paihia to Dargaville 1 hour 40 minutes


Paihia Accommodation 

No matter where you are travelling to, the right accommodation is one of the things that can make or break your holiday. No one wants to arrive at their destination only to be disappointed by the accommodation they have chosen – that’s why it pays to spend some time doing a little bit of research online before you arrive as there are plenty of accommodation options available in Paihia for the budget traveler right through to the high end traveler. 

You will not be disappointed when you choose to stay at Abri Apartments. Abri Apartments is the perfect accommodation choice for private luxury holiday accommodation in central Paihia for couples and single persons. There are three self-contained apartments to choose from all with stunning sea views.  Our one bedroom Suite has a twin option available or for sleeping 3 persons.  Abri Apartments is just a short 3-minute walk to the town centre and Paihia Wharf.


Best Restaurants In Paihia 

Finding the best place to eat is often all part of the fun when holidaying, and Paihia has plenty of great options to choose from. Here are our top picks to give you a head start!! (In no particular order of preference)

  • With two different dining options on offer - outside on The Dock or the inside dining room - you are sure to want to make this one a regular while on holiday in Paihia. Zane Grey’s Restaurant and Bar serves great food, good wine and even has an onsite Aquarium plus excellent views!
  • Perched right on the water’s edge at the end of the wharf, Charlotte’s Kitchen has an excellent menu for groups with both individual and sharing plates on the menu. Plus, there are stunning views!
  • Terra Restaurant is the newest eatery in Central Paihia, is on the waterfront and has amazing views over the Bay of Islands. Terra Restaurant look forward to sharing their passion for modern dining using global cooking techniques, food sustainability and unique ingredients of the stunning Far North of New Zealand.
  • If you love Thai or Indian food then you will love Greens Indian and Greens Thai Restaurants. They have 2 restaurants on the waterfront in Central Paihia, Greens Indian and Greens Thai; as well as a restaurant over in Russell. Check them out you won't be disappointed. Greens have a Takeaway Menu.
  • King Wah Chinese Restaurant is another favorite. King Wah can be found in the middle of Paihia Lanes and offer both an a la carte menu as well as a Buffet with all the Chinese menu favorites. If you love fresh oysters in the shell, then you will definitely need to check out King Wah's buffet as it includes local fresh oysters in the entrée section. King Wah also has a Takeaway Menu.
  • The Tipsy Oyster offers an interesting array of menu items drawing inspiration from around the world with something to please all taste buds. Perfect for Tapas, burgers and oysters - of course! The Tipsy Oyster is a real crowd pleaser!
  • For the best BBQ ribs in Northland, Jimmy Jacks Rib Shack is the place to be! You can’t go past their legendary ribs, curly fries and wicked onion rings. Their range of burgers are also top-notch, along with the selection of ‘Sizzle Plates’ and Platters.
  • While in Paihia, you simply can’t pass up the opportunity to get yourself some quality fish and chips to eat down by the water’s edge and JFC Just Fish and Chips is the place! This waterfront restaurant provides both indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeaway, and serves only the freshest caught fish and seafood.

For website links to the above restaurants, as well as many other great restaurants, cafes, clubs, bars and wineries, go to the "Best Restaurants in Paihia" Blog Post - there are lots to choose from!!


Top 10 Things To Do

While it’s doubtful you will have trouble filling your days in the Paihia; it’s always nice to do a bit of research on what there is to do before you go. So here are our top 10 things to do in Paihia.

  1. Viewing the Dolphins. Going on a cruise to view the dolphins and other marine life in Paihia is pretty much the top of most people’s bucket list when visiting the Northland region. There are a few dolphin tour options, but the team at Carino Wildlife Cruises gives a portion of every fare to marine research and conservation, so they are our top recommendation on this one.
  2. Scuba Diving And Snorkelling. Paihia is home to the famous Rainbow Warrior wreck and the HMNZS Canterbury dive experiences, a huge drawcard for the avid diver. Paihia Dive are the people to see for personalised diving experiences.
  3. Sea Kayaking. Whether you join a guided kayak tour or just rent a kayak and head out on your own adventure, kayaking in Paihia is a great way to get out on the water! There are a number of full and half-day tours available; shop around for the one that suits your budget and time available.
  4. Urupukapuka Island. The largest Island in the Bay of Islands, Urupukapuka Island, is popular with tourists and visitors who wish to see the famous Hole in the Rock. Passenger ferries to operate during the peak summer season, or you can catch a water taxi. You can even camp overnight on the Island at the Urupukapuka Bay Campsite.
  5. The Xtreme Jet. For those who prefer a slightly faster pace, taking a ride on the Xtreme Jet is the perfect choice! Adrenaline seekers who love to hunt down the big thrills will enjoy the high-speed twists and turns (and the scenery) on this epic jet boating tour.
  6. Hike The Cape Brett Peninsula. Situated just North of Russell (across the bay from Paihia), the Cape Brett peninsula is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy some of what nature has to offer. This 16km walk winds its way over hills and through forest alongthe top of the cliffs before reaching the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula. Save time by taking a Water Taxi across to the peninsula.
  7. Paihia To Kerikeri. If you are up for a slight change of scenery, then just 20 kilometres drive north from Paihia, you will find the historic little town of Kerikeri. This town is home to a number of boutique wineries, great cafes, fresh fruit orchards, historic buildings, and yes –more beaches!
  8.  Paihia Cruise. Taking an ocean cruise to explore some of the Bay of Islands beaches, bays and inlets is a must-do when visiting Paihia. Whether it’s dolphins and whales you want to see, or you prefer swimming, kayaking in secluded bays, fishing or just Island hopping, the Bay of Islands boat tours will not disappoint – prepare for some of the best oceanic adventures in New Zealand!
  9. Horseback Riding On The Beach. Ride your horse around Waitangi to take in the sights, then after removing the saddles – you can swim with your horse in the sea! Be sure to book ahead for this popular ride, but if you miss out, other ride options are available, including a bay view scenic ride and forest ride.
  10. Visit The Waitangi Treaty Grounds. You simply can’t holiday in Paihia without taking the opportunity to visit this national icon. A Day Pass around the Waitangi Treaty Grounds will provide a fully guided tour, access to cultural performances and entry to the historic grounds and museum. Want more? Then for an extra fee, there is the Hangi and Concert where you can stay for a traditional Maori meal and entertainment.

For website links to the above, go to the "Top 10 Things to Do" Blog post.


Paihia is one of those holiday destinations that leave you never wanting to go home.  Our guests are frequently telling us "Ï wish we had stayed longer!"  We know you are going to enjoy your stay here at Abri Apartments in the heart of the Bay of Islands. See you Soon!!

Need more information to plan your stay?  See other useful Bay of Islands links on our other Blob Posts and our Bay Islands Page.

Posted by Helen Hadfield on August 31, 2021

What our previous guests have said