Paihia is a beautiful area in the northern part of the North Island in New Zealand. It is part of the Bay of Islands. This is an area known for its beaches and many locals vacation in this section of the island. This is where I was advised to spend Christmas. I made my way up here on Christmas Eve from Auckland arriving fairly early in the afternoon. We had all day to explore. The main town is small and walk-able, but it’s quaint. I could have easily spent a few more days here just on the beaches catching some sun.
There were a lot of nice restaurants for the families and non-backpackers who also vacation here. The treat yo’ self meal we had in Paihia was at Zane Grey’s. This was right on the water with gorgeous views. I actually was planning on also coming here for breakfast the next day and they ended up having a special Christmas buffet for $25. Score! It was a really nice spot. Not for a backpackers budget, but I always admit to being a bad backpacker. There were a lot of places I also wanted to try out, but I had so little time here unfortunately.
I would say the main attraction and thing to do is to go all the way up the coast to the most northern part of the island, Cape Reinga. There’s a bunch of tours that go up there and different ways of going. You can go via helicopter, boat, or bus. Doing the bus tour was included in my travel pass, but it is through a third party company, GreatSights. It was a lovely tour, albeit a long time on the bus, but our driver was fantastic. Keep in mind this was on Christmas Day and his spirit and energy never faltered. In hindsight though, this is not how I would have or should have spent Christmas Day – it wasn’t my ideal use of time on this special day. I think that any other day the tour would have been more enjoyable. I liked the tour I did, but if you are looking a tour I would recommend going by boat rather than by bus. You may not hop off at as many stops, but you make full use of the ocean and getting a different vantage point.
Base Backpackers Paihia
I always hear that Base hostels are hit or miss and usually more of a miss. They are known as the party hostels. Honestly, I have had good experiences with them so far. This hostel had more of a beach vibe with different sections around the property – all separate buildings. The room was an 8 person dorm, but I think we only had three people including myself maximum either night I was there. There was an ensuite bathroom in the room and a small kitchen area. They also had Christmas dinner options, which was a nice touch. It did get pretty rowdy at night, but from I heard that is pretty typical for Paihia. It makes sense though, because for many travelers this is the first stop on the North Island from Auckland and usually the start of the trip. Christmas to me isn’t about partying so I wasn’t in that mindset. I did like this Base hostel and would recommend it, but I didn’t stay at any other hostels. Besides hostels there were a lot of motel options in the area. I think that would be a fun way to travel if you had a small group.
My final call on Paihia? It was too rushed and I wish I could have stayed longer. Well I guess I can always go back.