In Paihia/ Opua
In addition to the options below, you might try the good-value contemporary comforts of Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands, on the corner of Seaview and MacMurray roads, Paihia (www.scenichotelgroup.co.nz; tel. 0800/696-963 in NZ, or 09/402-7826), where you'll find 114 renovated rooms. Standard and superior rooms run NZ$253 to NZ$299 but the new deluxe rooms (NZ$345) are best. They open onto private subtropical gardens. There's a solar-heated pool, and it's all within walking distance of the township. Seaspray Suites Bay of Islands, 138 Marsden Rd., Paihia (www.heritagehotels.co.nz; tel. 0800/368-888 in NZ or 09/402-0013), has 30 very pleasant, new, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments overlooking Te Ti Beach. Prices range from NZ$250 to NZ$450 and some deals include breakfast.
A lot of the lodgings on this side of the water are high priced for what you get, so shop around. Personally, I think you get better value for your money in the Paihia-Opua area. For a budget-conscious stay, head for the Top 10 Holiday Park, 1 James St., Longbeach Road (tel. 0800/148-671 in NZ, or 09/403-7826; fax 09/403-7221; www.russelltop10.co.nz). They have a range of accommodations priced from NZ$95 to NZ$250. Tent and powered sites go for NZ$15 to NZ$22 per person. Russell Cottages, 16 Chapel St. (tel. 09/403-7737; fax 09/403-8002; www.russellcottages.co.nz), are my pick for the independent traveler who likes a modern, self-contained stay. Sixteen one- to four-bedroom, two-level cottages sit in parklike gardens with a heated pool and Jacuzzi. They are priced from NZ$175 to NZ$395.
In the Far North
For a special treat, take yourself to the Karikari Peninsula, where you'll find some of the best beaches in New Zealand. You?ll also find the superlative Carrington Resort, Maitai Bay Road, Karikari Peninsula (tel. 0800/368-888 in NZ, or 09/408-7222; www.heritagehotels.co.nz), set amid 3,000 hectares (7,410 acres) of rolling coastal land. It offers 10 spacious, modern lodge suites that open onto wide verandas with beach views. Fourteen separate villas set away from the main lodge provide three-bedroom comforts with golf-course views. A resort par excellence, it?s well worth going the extra mile. Lodge rooms start at NZ$460, or NZ$640 with breakfast and dinner. The villas cost NZ$560. The lodge has a strong conservation and environmental policy in action and is responsible for the restoration of a large expanse of nearby wetlands.
In Doubtless Bay, one of the best spots is Beach Lodge, 121 St. Hwy. 10, Coopers Beach (tel./fax 09/406-0068; www.beachlodge.co.nz). Its five delightful, two-bedroom, self-contained units are just a few paces from the white-sand beach; rates are NZ$400 to NZ$475, with lower rates off-peak. Coopers Beachfront Suites, 18 Bayside Dr., Coopers Beach (tel. 09/406-1018; www.coopersbeach.net), has two light and bright suites overlooking the beach (1 upstairs, 1 down), for NZ$175 to NZ$325, which includes breakfast provisions for the first morning.
Taipa Bay Resort, 22 Taipa Point Rd. (tel. 09/406-0656; www.taipabay.co.nz), is 7km (4 1/3 miles) north of Mangonui village. Their 32 suites and apartments allow you to enjoy sand and surf at your doorstep for NZ$185 to NZ$375.
In Kaitaia are several motel options and in nearby Ahipara you can enjoy three very nice self-contained, two-bedroom apartments at Shippies, Reef View Road, Shipwreck Bay (tel. 09/409-4729; www.shippies.co.nz), for NZ$200 to NZ$300. Farther north at Houhora Heads, you'll find great waterfront camping at Wagener Holiday Park & Backpacker Cabins (tel. 09/409-8511; www.northlandholiday.co.nz). Non-powered sites cost NZ$26; powered sites are NZ$30 per night; caravans NZ$56; cabin rooms NZ$44 to NZ$48.
Farther south, near Dargaville and Waipoua Forest, check out Waipoua Lodge, State Highway 12, Katui, Northland (tel. 09/439-0422; www.waipoualodge.co.nz). This very welcome addition to Northland's west coast features four stylish apartments set in gardens, separate from the 120-year-old main villa and dining room. I recommend you stay 2 or 3 days and take the guided night walk to see rare wild kiwi (an extra charge) and during the day, check out the remarkable kauri forests, or laze about on deserted golden sand beaches. The bed-and-breakfast rate is NZ$585 to NZ$625; if you include dinner it starts at NZ$830. A less expensive option is Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga, SH12, Omapere South (tel. 09/405-8737; fax 09/405-8801; www.copthornehokianga.co.nz), which has 33 guest rooms right on the water?s edge of Hokianga Harbour, with regular rate packages available.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.