Looking for a unique, kiwi experience? Take a boat trip with Barefoot Sailing Adventures
The first thing to do is to check out the section on our favourite walks in the area - there are short strolls and longer hikes. You can even combine the island walks with a camping stay on Urupukapuka in Cable Bay - a dream location for a very good price! One of our favourite local walks is from Paihia to Opua along the coastal track. Then, if you're feeling like keeping going, hop on the car ferry to Russell for $1 and follow the Okiato to Russell part of the trail. At the Waitangi end of the bay there is a beautiful walk that takes you from Waitangi Treaty Grounds, through the mangroves, along the riverside to the Haruru Falls. Amazing views, a relaxing pace and it doesn't cost you a thing!
To get a taste of being on the water, hire a kayak or take the great value Night Safari Cruise or perhaps a jetski if you are looking for something with a bit more oomph! There are some very reasonably priced day sail options which include lunch, snorkelling, kayaking and an opportunity to explore one of the 144 islands in the bay.
Alternatively, hop in your car and follow the Twin Coast Discovery trail - take the winding road via Matauri Bay, visit the dinosaurs and meteors showcase just north of Kaeo. Or head to the majestic Hokianga: walk to the viewing point at South Heads, Omapere, where you watch the ocean meet the harbour. Finish up with coffee at the Hokianga Copthorne Hotel.
For budget travellers there are a whole host of great hostels to stay in. Most of these are under $30 per night and include your bed linen, hot water and kitchen facilities. Some even supply breakfast. Most of these have wifi and a couple of places even have free wifi.
If you are keen to stay for a while in the Bay of Islands, working for your accommodation is always an option - for two to three hours a day of helping with the housekeeping, you don't have to pay a thing for your bed! This is also a great way to get to know people in the area.