The Gohemian’s Guide: What To Do In Paihia

Around The World Directions Lighthouse Cape Reinga

So it’s time to get on the bus again and head up north to see more of glorious New Zealand. I decided to start north for no other reason than I felt like it, and I wanted to try to see as much of the country as I could. There is lots to see south of Auckland so I decided I wanted to prioritise the north before heading down that way. And I’m so glad I did.

Paihia is beautiful! I arrived on a particularly sunny day which really emphasised the beauty of the surroundings. The view from Paihia Wharf is breathtaking, with the Bay Of Islands just in sight and the sun beaming down on the shore. Even on the coldest day, it’s hard not to be impressed here.

Bay Of Islands View from Paihia

And another pull-factor here, is the amount of stuff you can do in this area. Coming from a sleepy-town like Whangarei to this beautiful place with so many activity options…I was a tad overwhelmed.

I once again opted to stay in a YHA once again and it was a great move. The bus dropped me off just up the road from the hostel, I didn’t realise this until I got off the bus, but after wandering for 2 minutes trying to get my bearings, I stumbled across it – good times! It was a nice place, very cosy, staff were great – once again, I really do recommend it. I just don’t recommend the room-mates I got HAHAHA.

The room was empty when I walked in, so initially I thought I had the place to myself again – until I spotted this note on the bathroom door.

It read along the lines of ‘please do not use aerosols because I am allergic to them, I have X problems which flares up X and I will feel like I’m dying. I have spare roll-on deodrants you can use, so please do, thank you. As a reminder DO NOT USE AEROSOLS.’

Oh dear. Yup, I was stuck with a hypochondriac. Great. She was a little bit intense. I walked in and saw this eccentric-looking lady sitting in her beret on her bed and she explained to me she was staying in the hostel for a month to work on her novel. She was nice enough buit often a little bit snappy, but really after spending a bit of time with her I just realised she was lonely. It’s funny how people, who often seem like they’d really prefer to be on their own, just really want to be around a lot of different people.

6 Girls dorm Paihia YHA

In YHA’s there are awesome sitting areas which tend to have a fair few videos lying around – Yes! You read me right, VIDEOS! It really is that old school). So a few of the nights me and one of the other girl’s decided to watch some flicks together. It was fun. In fact we got so excited about rewinding a tape that it almost overshadowed the movie (what a novelty eh?). But anyway writer lady just really wanted to watch some films with us but she had picked out really serious, intense movies whereas we kinda just wanted to watch some comedies. Bless her, she was just a little bit full-on but you will realise, it is these strange people, that you will meet, who make your hostel stays so interesting.

I met another awesome British girl who was very fun to hang out with and then I ran back into Thjis (my friend from the Whangarei YHA). I promise you if you are concerned about feeling lonely while you’re away, I can promise you – DO NOT WORRY ABOUT MAKING NEW FRIENDS WHILST TRAVELLING, its easy-peasy to meet new people.

Remember: EVERYONE is in the same boat as you, they all want to feel welcome and at home in a strange place.

Once you’ve made some new friends you will want to get out there and get exploring. I was given a map of the area by staff at the YHA and from this I could see I wasn’t far from the Waitangi treaty grounds. So I decided to take a stroll to it – it was probably a 40 minute walk away. And what a beautiful walk it was too, I have honestly never seen such beautiful scenery in my whole life. Walking along the waterfront was just bliss. I love walking on my own, at my own pace just taking it all in. You cannot beat it. Because when you travel with someone else, you don’t ever do things your way – you do them in a compromised way. DOING THINGS YOUR WAY IS OK, SO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR OWN TIME. Walk your own pace, stop at things that you want to really get up-close to, listen to music as you make your way and sing your own song.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are really worth a visit, it’s really fascinating, and as you already know, I believe that if you’re going to go to a country you may as well learn about its history while your there. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is basically the heart of the country, it is New Zealand’s most historic site because it was here, on February 6th, 1840, that the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed between Maori and the British Crown.

At this point exactly:

The Spot Where Waitangi Treaty Was Signed

So I think going north from Auckland is a fine idea, get a sense of this wonderful country’s past. As soon as you arrive in any Kiwi airport you will be greeted by the words ‘Kia Ora’, from there on you will see place names  and places of interest with interesting and often un-pronouncable Maori names…so then I think it’s good to know all about how the agreement between the Maori’s and the Western World came to be.

Kia-Ora Waitangi Treaty GroundsThe grounds are part of a 506 hectare National Trust Estate and on a beautiful sunny day, this really is the perfect place to visit. Walk around the grounds and be amazed by the traditional Maori carvings, etched into everything from ceremonial war canoes to the interior of a beautiful Maori Meeting House, to the beautiful scenery and wildlife that surround the area.

But because Waitangi is really all about the meeting of two very different cultures, you get to see both sides of it. Take a walk on over to the Treaty House and you get to see how the other half lived in James Busby’s digs (New Zealand’s first British resident).

James Busbys House Waitangi

English garden party anyone?

Doesn’t it look just like a traditional English home? I bet the Maori people thought it was the weirdest thing when they first saw it. Nice though eh?

I really enjoyed walking around Waitangi, I liked listening to the strange sounding birds outside, watching the historical video in the visitors centre and sitting in the beautiful Maori Meeting House and thinking about how much it reminded me of the Care Bears Movie II hehe!

So once you’ve soaked up the historical facts of Waitangi it’s good to just get relaxing, so how about on your way back to town, nip into a ship and get some fish and chips…I mean why not eh? Or should I say fish and Shippey’s hehe!

Shippey's Fish and Chips boat Paihia


On the way back I stopped at Countdown supermarket on Blackbridge Road to stock up on stuff to cook my first solo meal. To say I was excited, was an understatement. I’ve got to admit I got used to my partner mainly taking charge with cooking the meals, so this time around I was excited to get cooking what I wanted. However, food is much more expensive in New Zealand (and I’m not just talking in comparison to India and Thailand, even compared to Britain…it’s costly). So go for Value foods! I found value range pasta, yoghurt pots of tomato pasta sauce (more practical than buying a jar, in case you’re not sticking around for that long), I even treated myself to some very yummy Whittaker’s Chocolate…mmm. I’m totally one of those saddos who loves going to supermarkets, I genuinely get excited about just mooching around in them (especially when I’m abroad).

I also really recommend taking a walk along the beach and watching the sun go down, it’s truly breathtaking. The water is so calm and the colours are so intense, it’s just beautiful. And while you do it, listen to this song (that’s what I did and it was perfection!):

sunset in paihia hipstamatic


The next day I decided to go to do the Cape Reinga & Ninety Mile Beach Tour, and I really recommend it!! It’s a very early start, so be prepared to get a good night’s sleep and for God’s sake DON’T BE LATE! I was about 3 mins late and as a result of that the guide on the bus took the piss out of me for the whole day! It was funny though, and having a surname like Black, meant this guy took great pleasure in shouting my name every 2 minutes! (Felt just like school all over again haha!).

Even though our guide like taking the mick out of me, I still loved him! He was awesome! He was really fun and on a hilarious mission to beat the other tour groups to all of the main stops. He even took us down a restricted road so we could beat them! And as a result of that, we got to see some wild horses…AWESOME!

Cape Reinga Wild Horses

I loved that he was willing to take risks to make our trip memorable! He was so great! I wish I could remember his name…he should be commended for his awesome work. He really was so passionate about  his job and New Zealand as a whole. This was definitely not just a job to him, it was a lifestyle choice and that was so great to see and to be part of!

He told us fun stories, Maori legends and then proceeded to take us on a hair-raising drive on the sand across the length of the 90 mile beach. The water was spraying up all around the bus, he was laughing away, we were smiling so hard our faces ached, it really was not your average bus-tour!

As you can see, we got the opportunity to go sandboarding. Well, I’m going to disappoint you now because I chickened out. Oh I’m an adventurer alright but just not too extreme, so I wussed out and decided to watch, which resulted in more piss-taking from the coach driver – haha!Anyways I had a great time and wasn’t wet and cold like everyone else (secret win!).

After that we had lunch (I’d bring your own lunch, as the buffet you can have costs much more). So once your fed up then you’re then ready to be taken to the very tip-top of New Zealand at Cape Reinga.

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We then went to see the amazing sacred Maori Kauri trees at Puketi Forest. These trees are the largest I have ever seen in all of my life and are located in, what seems to be, a mythical forest…when you are in New Zealand, you begin to understand why Lord Of The Rings was filmed here…it’s just magical.

kapeti forest kauri trees

kapeti forest kauri trees

Kauri trees were used for making traditional Maori canoes and for carving but the trees were considered sacred and very special, so the Maori people used to perform a special ceremony before the trees were cut down, to ask the Kauri spirit if they could use the tree. As you will learn when you travel to New Zealand, the Maori people greatly respect nature and everything that is created in nature there, is founded from a wonderful legend.

I’ll leave you on that note my lovelies, anyone heading to NZ soon? Any thoughts on Paihia and the Bay of Islands? There is sooooooooo much to do there, I only touched the tip of the iceberg. So go there and get adventuring my loves!

Contact me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest please! I miss you!

Love and magic Em xoxo


About gohemians

I'm Emma, I'm 29 and I am a Gohemian. I am fueled by my passion to travel all over the world and to help others reach their dreamy, sparkly goals (no matter how scary they are). GohemianTravellers celebrates ambition, personal development and happiness and offers bucket loads of advice to travellers and quarter-life crisis survivors (just like me)! Life is all about the GoGo! So let's GO!
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