Remember one important fact if you want to stay in the Bay of Islands: From December to January, the population swells from a mere 2,000 to over 30,000. Reserve well in advance.

Paihia has the biggest concentration of motels and hotels, while Russell and Kerikeri offer more bed-and-breakfast options. Paihia is definitely the most convenient place to stay if you intend to take lots of tours and participate in organized activities. It also has the better food outlets, and you won't have to worry about missing the last ferry to Russell. Russell is the place to be if you want a quiet spot for most of the time - there are far fewer people here, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's less touristy. Rates below include 15% GST and free parking; note that New Zealand has a No-Smoking policy in all public buildings and most private accommodations.

If you want information about Department of Conservation campsites in Northland, contact the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre, 92 Otaika Rd., Whangarei (tel. 09/430-2007;

Backpackers in Paradise

Backpackers will think they've arrived in paradise: Paihia is the best-serviced backpacker town in the country. There are about 10 top-quality backpacker lodges, most of them cheek-by-jowl on Kings Road. Base Pipi Patch, 18 Kings Rd. (tel. 0800/227-369 in NZ, or 09/402-7111), attracts a lot of the Kiwi Experience buses and it has a Qualmark Enviro-Bronze rating for its efforts toward sustainability. It's just 50m (165 ft.) from the beach and has a pool set in a sunny courtyard; every room has its own bathroom. Lodge Eleven Backpackers-YHA, MacMurray and Kings roads (tel./fax 09/402-7487;, is highly rated; every room has its own shower and toilet. Located 100m (330 ft.) from the beach, the place is immaculate and offers personalized service.

Peppertree Lodge, 15 Kings Rd. (tel. 0800/473-7737 in NZ or 09/402-6122;, was built for backpacker comfort and is seen by many as the best of the best.

The Pickled Parrot Backpackers Lodge, 7 Grey's Lane (tel. 09/402-6222;, is the smallest backpacker lodge and offers free breakfast and free use of bikes. The Mousetrap Backpackers, 11 Kings Rd. (tel. 09/402-8182;, is another small one (35 guests max) in a big, old house with sunny balconies. Saltwater Lodge, 14 Kings Rd. (tel. 0800/002-266 in NZ, or 09/402-7075;, has top facilities and private bathrooms in every unit; and it is a member of the Northland Sustainable Tourism Charter. The well-equipped Bay Adventurer Apartments & Backpacker Resort, 28 Kings Rd. (tel. 0800/112-127 in NZ, or 09/402-5162;; has its own tennis courts and Jacuzzi, which are big draws.

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.