Scenic Walking Trails

There are many Bay of Islands scenic walking tracks to choose from but some of my favorites start right here in Paihia!  

Whenever you go walking I recommend that you go prepared with a water bottle each, snacks, hat; plus don't forget to sunblock and take your camera - you will need it all!  A gentle reminder that New Zealand's sun may not be as hot as you are use to or shining very bright on some days but the UV  in NZ is very high; catching the unwary out on many occasions.  Depending on the time of year, Burn Time in NZ can be as little as 11-12 minutes and you can even burn on a cloudy day!! 


A favorite walk of mine is the Waitangi to Haruru Falls track. It is an easy walk approximately 6 klms one way.  You can start from Abri Apartments following the coastline to Waitangi or you can drive your car to the starting point. The car park is on the left just past the Treaty Grounds main entrance.  The track follows the Waitangi river, through forestry beside the river, over a footbridge and a boardwalk through a mangrove forest; and then onto a well formed track that follows the river until you reach Haruru Falls.  You usually see lots of birdlife along the way. Keep an eye out for the Shags that roost / nest in the trees along the river bank. Depending on the time of year, you may be lucky enough to be there when the chicks have hatched!! 

You can either walk back to Paihia along the river track the way you came (you do see different things as you are facing the opposite direction!) or you can walk back to Paihia along the road as there is a footpath the whole way. Haruru Falls is approximately 3 klms inland from Paihia by road.   Or If you only want to walk one way, consider taking a tour with Thunder Trike Tours and get him to drop you off at Haruru Falls at the end of your tour and walk back along the river track to Paihia.   

Haruru Falls refers to both the breathtaking waterfall and a small historic settlement is located nearby. Haruru means “big noise” and the waterfalls are a rare horseshoe shape. Maori legend says that a taniwha (water monster) lives in the lagoon below the spectacular falls. Let us know if you spot him!  


It is possible to complete a full circle walk around the main visitor areas of the Bay of Islands by using a combination of the Paihia to Opua walkway, the Opua car ferry, the Okiato to Russell walkway and the Russell to Paihia ferry.

The Paihia to Opua Walkway is another favorite of mine and is an easy well established track, 5.8 klms one way.  When it's half or low tide, you can start the walk the southern end of Paihia Beach where the old concrete/rock jetty is; following the coast around to Sullivan's Beach and onto Te Haumi flats. You will need to cross the channel via the road bridge at Te Haumi Stream before entering the bush covered coastal walk on the left immediately after the bridge. After the bridge follow the Te Araroa Pathway sign. The track is clearly marked and undulating. It passes the base of the Veronica Channel leading navigation light and affords excellent views over the channel looking towards the Russell peninsular and into the Waikare Inlet. The track finishes at Opua, where a general store sells food, drinks and essentials. There are also public toilets at the Opua Car Ferry landing.

At Opua you can choose to walk along the same track back to Paihia.  Or perhaps you are feeling like you have done enough walking and feel like a  bit of an adventure?  you can organise to take the Thunder Trike back to Paihia!  Or if you know in advance you will only want to walk one way do a Thunder Trike Tour and get him to drop you off at Opua at the end of your tour and walk back to Paihia via the coastal walkway.  Or perhaps you feel like you are just getting started and want to continue?  so hop on to the car ferry at Opua to Okiato ......... and


Continue along the Okiato to Russell walkway   The walkway is 8.9 klms one way and there are a lot of steps!! so a reasonable level of fitness is required for this walk.  There are 4 stages to the Okiato to Russell Walkway:  Pipiroa Bay to Aucks Road, Aucks Road to Te Wahapu Road, Te Wahapu Road to Hirst Reserve, Oronga Bay and Oronga Bay to Russell. The well formed track traverses wetland flats, undulating areas of mature native bush as well as boardwalks along the waters edge.

From Russell, catch one of the passenger ferries to get to back to Paihia. 

Posted by Helen Hadfield on August 31, 2021

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