Weekend escapes in the Bay of Islands

There’s a lot to love about New Zealand’s Bay of Islands (affectionately known as NZ’s boi). Nature, untouched beaches, excellent weather and the second bluest sky in the world are just a few of its drawcards.

From fishing charters and surfing to sand dune boarding and dolphin watching, it’s the ideal place to escape for a summer weekend. Here are just a few accommodation options in the area.

Duke of Marlborough Hotel

If you’re looking for an establishment steeped in history around The Bay of Islands, then this is it. In 1827, the hotel was opened by an ex-convict and then went by the name of ‘Johnny Johnstons Grog Shop’. Shortly after this, it was granted the first liquor license in the whole of New Zealand. Since then the hotel has come a long way, now offering fine dining and four-star accommodation.

The best place to be in the hotel is the bar, followed by the Waterfront Suites. These have been decked out in crisp whites and leather furniture, and boast views out to the bay. Retreating to one of these rooms after dinner and a drink concludes any day well.

Russell Cottages

These five-star, fully self-contained cottages are ideal for long weekends in Russell. Each cottage has separate lounge and dining areas, in addition to private balconies and gardens.

Russell is an activity hub, both on the water and land. The Newport Chocolates Factory and Russell Museum are a short walk from the cottages, while a visit to 90 Mile Beach is a must.

Marlin House

Marlin House is one of the best large group options in the Bay of Islands. The four-bedroom Marlin Apartment sleeps up to ten people and has its own alfresco dining and BBQ area overlooking the bay. Each morning, continental and cooked breakfasts are served in the ‘Captains Cabin’.

Adventure seekers need to experience ‘Mack Attack’ – a high-speed boat trip through the Bay of Islands. The boat reaches speeds of 100km/h and is the best (and fastest) way to visit the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’. Foodies should visit El Cafe in Paihia for some of the best Mexican cuisine in New Zealand.

Cliff Edge by the Sea

Cliff Edge by the Sea is the quintessential Bay of Islands lodge. With four guest rooms, one studio apartment and a huge wraparound balcony, the lodge delivers good old-fashioned hospitality.

The guest house is owned and operated by Peter Meier, a former food writer for the Sunday Telegraph. Meier also runs Cliff Edge’s kitchen, so you know the in-house food is going to be good. His signature fusion ‘Mediterasian’ style of cooking focuses on seasonal and regional produce that is paired with New Zealand and Australian wines.

Bellrock Lodge

This Russell guesthouse is home to only four spacious suites, each of which comes with its own entrance and patio. French doors open onto the patio, to views of the Bay of Islands and the New Zealand mainland.

Suites come with fully-equipped kitchenettes and super king-sized beds, while free WiFi is available throughout the property. Upstairs, the guesthouse lounge room, dining room and bar are the ideal places to kick back after a day spent on the ocean dolphin watching or fishing.

The township of Russell is a short walk downhill. Be sure to enjoy a meal at The Gables Restaurant – a former brothel, turned luxury dining establishment. The seafood and wine list here is one of the best in the region.

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