Retirement Travels 2017 – Bay of Islands NZ

The Retirement Travels 2017 continue.  Our one month trip to New Zealand has just ended. The last week of it we spent in the Bay of Islands with our son and daughter-in-law.  We all had a great time. The weather was good, the scenery was amazing, the accommodation worked well. In short, a great holiday. You can read about the earlier part of the holiday here.


Arriving at Auckland airport and picking up the hire car, was really easy and straightforward. This time round we were using GO Car Rentals. The courtesy van arrived promptly and the hire set up was straightforward. Given we were heading north, and not intending going into Auckland at all, we thought this would be straightforward. No, it wasn’t. There is no direct access onto the main highway from the airport, so it took us about 30-40 minutes to get onto the toll road north, using local roads. On the way back, it was even worse, it was busy and it took 1 hour to get from the end of the toll road to the airport. So the main thing I would advise anyone heading to Auckland airport is to allow an extra hour just to get round the outskirts of the city.

Ninety Mile Beach

It really is at it says – a ninety mile beach of lovely golden sands!
We stopped in towards the south end of the beach, and drove an ‘interesting’ 10km road to get to the beach. Given we were in a hire car, we decided not to drive on the sand, just in case, but many people were doing so.
As far as the eye could see in either direction, it was all beach and sandhills. On the North picture, if you look closely you can just see a car miles in the distance…

ScreenHunter_02 Jan. 30 10.58
Looking North

ScreenHunter_03 Jan. 30 10.58
Looking South

Part way along the beach there are giant sand dunes at Te Paki These are just amazing. People were using surf boards to ‘surf’ down the dunes.  I am not sure if the resolution of the photograph in the blog is good enough, but the tracks left by the boards can be seen on the right of the photograph. There are two tiny white dots, which are people carrying their surfboards

ScreenHunter_04 Jan. 30 11.08

Te Paki – Giant Sand Dunes

Cape Reinga

Right at the very top of the headland, is a tiny lighthouse. We drove as far as we could, and then walked down to the lighthouse. However all round this area, there are some excellent walks documented here. My photographs don’t do it justice, but here are a couple of them.

ScreenHunter_05 Jan. 30 11.19

The beach next to the lighthouse

ScreenHunter_07 Jan. 30 11.21

The Lighthouse

Cracking Retirement Cape Reinga

Just how far away everything is

The other thing of interest is that this is where the Tasman Sea meets the South Pacific Ocean, so there is a patch of rough water just near the lighthouse, as the various currents contend with each other

ScreenHunter_06 Jan. 30 11.20

Where the oceans meet

Really it is such a beautiful place, right at the northmost tip of New Zealand. A screen grab from Google Maps

ScreenHunter_12 Jan. 30 11.33


We stopped for 4 nights at Paihia. We stayed at The Anchorage Motel in Paihia,. We had a lovely 2 bedroom apartment, the weather was stunning, so we were able to use the pool, the spa and the sun loungers!

ScreenHunter_14 Jan. 30 12.03

More like the Caribbean

I really can recommend going to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It is just a short walk/drive from Paihia. It is well presented, and very informative. Absolutely fascinating.

ScreenHunter_13 Jan. 30 12.02

Carvings inside the Maori meeting house – Wharenui

We used the ferry to go to Russell. $6, takes 5 minutes, instead of a 75 minute drive – no contest. We also did the Hole in the Rock experience with Explore  which lasted about 3 hours. Not only was it amazing going through the ‘hole in the rock’, but it was a lovely calm day and on the way back, we met up with some dolphins which was great.

ScreenHunter_15 Jan. 30 12.08

On several days there was a local craft market, with some interesting items. We also were there for the Bay of Islands Sailing Week 2017, which meant that there were lots of yachts on the move, including some international ones

  ScreenHunter_19 Jan. 30 12.17


Russell turned out to be a lovely town. We had lunch and walked up to the Flagstaff Hill. It is a lot quieter than Paihia, and the locals were very friendly. I was struggling in the heat, going up a steep hill, and a car stopped to see if I wanted a lift. How kind! We decided to come back for another afternoon, but time ran away from us and we didn’t get back. One for another year.


On our way back to Auckland, we stopped for lunch and a wander round Whangarei Town Basin. I would have liked to spend longer there. We wandered along the waterfront in the sun. There are some lovely art works, and overall the area has been really well designed.

And then it was back to Christchurch to pack up and head home. End of another wonderful trip.



  1. Sounds absolutely wonderful! Definately on our bucket list, and helpful to see some of the highlights before we start planning a trip in the future! What an experience, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Fritz. It was a great holiday. You’ll certainly enjoy New Zealand when you go, wherever in the country you choose to go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *