Bay Of Islands New Zealand: Exploring And Celebrating Waitangi Day

Waitangi Day Celebrations - Bay of Islands New Zealand

Going To New Zealand’s North Island? Go to the Bay Of Islands! 

When I was trying to figure out my travel plans for New Zealand’s North Island, I researched online and asked a handful of friends for recommendations. One of the popular suggestions was the Bay of Islands. Cape Reinga was a priority for me so I added the Paihia in the Bay of Islands also. I booked a hostel with good reviews in Paihia and then popped on an Intercity bus from Auckland. 

In order for me to have daylight to explore, I booked an early bus to Paihia. Of course, I didn’t account for something like this:

Flat Tire En Route To Bay Of Islands New Zealand

A flat tire selfie!




  • Flights: Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. I like these two booking sites because they both search all websites and airlines around the globe including budget airlines.
  • Accommodations: I use or Tripadvisor to find the best rates on hotels. offers a free night after booking 10 nights.
  • Get up to $40 off your first Air Bnb stay by using this code!
  • Travel Insurance: Having gotten sick on my travels in the past, I never travel without being insured. You never know when something may happen. For my round the world trip and extended long-term travel, I use World Nomads. For other trips, I have used Roam Right and they cover activities like extreme sports.

We had to wait for a tire to get delivered plus the time to change the tire. After everything was said and done, it was about 2 hours of wait time. The passengers waited on the side of the road and entertained ourselves. Luckily I had a book with me. 

On the Intercity bus, I talked to a girl who told me she couldn’t find a place to stay within her budget. She said she was going to sleep on the beach. I asked her if she knew why and she said that it was Waitangi Day. There were going to be celebrations all weekend. When I got to my accommodations in Paihia, I realize how lucky and random it was I didn’t have any problems booking my hostel room. 

Helpful tip: Always check to see if there are any festivals or special events in the area otherwise accommodations could be booked up or expensive.

Look Up Rates For The Bay Of Islands Here:


My accommodations at the Salt Water Lodge were pretty good. A slight upgrade to the deluxe room was worth it since it meant that there would be fewer people in my shared room. It cost more but I preferred to pay more for fewer occupants. At the start of my round the world trip, sharing accommodations were pretty new to me. My only complaint about the Saltwater Lodge was there is a bar on-site and there was loud music (Beyoncé) playing well into the night. But alas nothing a set of earplugs or noise cancellation headphones can’t fix.

The next morning I went to a local market, bought a tea, yogurt, banana, and ate breakfast here:

Beach in Paihia -Bay Of Islands New Zealand

The beach in Paihia

After my morning stroll, I walked to Waitangi which is the next town over, for the celebrations.

What is Waitangi Day?

Waitangi Day is a New Zealand public holiday and celebrated on the 6th of February every year.  This day commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (in 1840), New Zealand’s founding document. It would be considered to be New Zealand’s Independence Day.

Waitangi Day Celebrations
Waitangi Day Celebrations

Waitangi Day Celebrations - Bay of Islands New Zealand |

Waitangi Day Celebrations

Treaty of Waitangi

Treaty of Waitangi

Waitangi Day Celebrations - Bay of Islands New Zealand

Maori boats out in the water

Waitangi Day Celebrations

Maori boats

It was pretty lucky to have randomly stumbled across the Waitangi Day celebrations in New Zealand. It felt like I was taking an interactive New Zealand history class!

If you’re wondering about what to do in New Zealand, I loved the Bay of Islands. It’s gorgeous and even with the celebrations, I found it to be a relaxing place. Of course, more time in the area would have been better. A return visit is a must. 

Check out these guided tours from Viator




Bay of Islands New Zealand
Cover image and Pinterest image courtesy of Flickr

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