PAIHIA NZ - Bay of islands budget travel guide

Paihia in the Bay of Islands is a small town rich in history. The town is just across the bridge from the Waitangi Treaty signing grounds, where modern New Zealand was born in 1840 in a landmark agreement between the British Crown and the United Maori Tribes.

It's an incredibly popular summer holiday destination for Kiwis and foreign travellers alike – Paihia itself has developed into a tourist town with camping grounds, backpacker hostels, motels and luxury hotels all within walking distance of the clear blue water.

Paihia is quiet during the off season (around April through to October) but comes to life during the summer, swelling from a population of around 2000 normally to up to 15,000 over the New Year's period. Read on to learn more about things to do in Paihia and places to stay.

Paihia NZ Attractions and Things to Do

Dining on the water in Paihia, NZ

Whether you want to relax, dine out, or get into some nature activities, Paihia is an excellent base for all sorts of memorable activities. Though it's a small town, it's hard to run out of things to do here, especially in peak season during the summer.

Here is a quick breakdown of some of the sights to see and activities to try in and around the town. For more information on all of these, check out the Top Things to Do in Paihia page.

  • A quick sampling of Paihia activities:
  • Sea kayaking around the many islands of the Bay
  • Dolphin cruises and swimming
  • Cruises to the famous Hole in the Rock
  • Catching the ferry to Russell, NZ's first capital
  • Dining out at one of the waterfront restaurants
  • Visiting Waitangi Treaty Grounds – where NZ's founding document was signed
  • Scenic helicopter flights
  • Jet boat rides
  • The Twin Coast cycle trail
  • Tandem skydiving

Check out the Paihia Things to Do guide for more info on these and other Paihia activities.

Sandcastle building, Paihia style

FINDING CHEAP Paihia Accommodation

There is a good mix between budget accommodation for backpackers and more expensive, luxury accommodation. If you're on a super tight backpacker budget, stick to the hostels or campgrounds – there is a good selection of both.

Visit the cheap accommodation in Paihia guide for a quick overview of the options, or follow the links below for guides on each accommodation type.

If you're travelling with a family or need something a little more private or upmarket, the best cheap motels and hotels in Paihia are also covered below.

Most of the backpackers hostels in Paihia are on Kings Road – if you want to be near the social life of the town, you'll want to stay in one of these backpackers.

Some of the most popular ones in this area include the Pickled Parrot, BaseX Paihia, and Bay Adventurer. There are others scattered around town, but this is kind of the centre of the action in terms of hostels and youth travellers.

For more information on the best backpacker hostels in Paihia, check out this guide.

There are a handful of good camping spots around Paihia and Waitangi, as well as a little further out of town (for instance Haruru Falls).

Check out the page on campgrounds in Paihia for a quick guide to the best campgrounds in my experience based on facilities, location and price.

Though campgrounds are best suited to motorhomes, there are some nice cabins and apartments for hire at some of the Paihia camps as well – and tent camping is available as an ultra cheap option. 

Motels provide a good middle ground if you're trying to stick to a budget but you need family friendly accommodation, or you just need something more private than a hostel for a while.

If you're splitting the bill between a few people, a motel room may end up being not much more expensive that staying in a hostel – check out the Paihia motels page for more info.

Paihia is known for its luxury accommodation, and many of the hotels and resorts, like the famous Club Paihia, are pretty pricey and definitely not an ideal choice if you want to avoid burning money on your trip.

That being said, it is possible to find good deals on hotels in Paihia from time to time. Check out this guide to the best cheap hotels and how to score the best accommodation specials.

› Paihia NZ Travel Guide

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