While we were in the Bay of Islands we based ourselves in Paihia which was a great choice. While it isn’t really as interesting historically as say Russell, Waitangi and Keri Keri – don’t get me wrong there is still plenty of history here it’s just not as well known for it, that’s all – Paihia is the main departure point for most tours, cruises and things to do.
The central Paihia Wharf is where all water cruises – from the slow boat to the Hole in the Rocks to the jet boat to the Hole in the Rock, Darryl’s dinner cruises up the Haruru River to the Haruru Falls, dolphin watching cruises, etc, - numerous fishing charters and the ferries to Russell depart from. Tickets for all these rides and more can be purchased from the café/restaurant/bar on the wharf or from any of the numerous ticket selling agents within the town.
Paihia has some great Souvenir shops/galleries where you can buy anything to remember your trip by – from the more expensive items such as local artists works of art, sculptures and the like and traditionally carved Maori items (tiaha (fighting stick), mere or patu (club) and pendants) to the cheaper items such as fridge magnets, postcards and T-shirts
Paihia also has some lovely cafes/restaurant/bars, a couple of those being –
The one located at the end of the wharf – sorry can’t remember its name – has a great dinner menu (good pub food type menu). We sat here and had a delicious dinner and a drink, watching the sun go down – I had a really nice salad with beetroot, feta cheese and salad leaves, yummy and everyone else had burgers or fish and chips
35 Degrees South Aquarium Restaurant and Bar – we stopped by here for breakfast on two occasions – the muesli with fruit and yoghurt is a winner in my books – and great location overlooking the water. There’s even an aquarium in it.