There are plenty of reasons why you might travel to the Bay of Islands for a holiday.
As a backpacker chasing Adventure Mecca, a busy professional desperate for a mindful escape away from the city bustle, or perhaps as a couple wanting to relax near crazy-beautiful coastline where the kids can run around and get stuck into activities.
Whatever your motivation to escape to Paradise, in between the adrenaline-inducing pursuits, shopping, beach-hopping or water sports – how about thinking a little more about you – mind, body and soul?
Well being matters!
Along with “Fake news” and “Brexit”, some of the biggest buzzwords of recent times would have to be “well being” and “self care”.
Natural food and beauty products are popping up everywhere now, and specialist blogs, events and Insta pages promoting well being have gone through the roof in numbers.
While many people may roll their eyes at the hippies and their irrational organic obsessions, there are more and more scientific reasons why we should be taking better care of ourselves – both physically and mentally.
Our bodies and minds are crying out for us to slow down and take heed of modern life. The pace, the stress, the toxins, the pressure of always “being on” – it can all get overwhelming at times. Despite the vitamins, gym sessions or Netflix!
So here are a few tips we’ve collated on well being while you’re traveling.
If you’re on a shoestring budget or have the responsibility of kids in tow, this shouldn’t stop you from doing a few things just for you.
It’s not necessarily about a strict health-care regime (although it may be for some), but instead we’d encourage you to make some tweaks to your day – just for yourself. And if a treat is involved – you’re not to feel guilty about it! It’s time to slow down and smell the Pohutukawa trees. You deserve it!
Top tips for wellbeing in the Bay
The following ideas could help you recharge those batteries.
Sleep means rejuvenation, and rejuvenation is often the reason for your holiday in the first place.
Sleep is so good for us. Especially if you’ve got jet lag interfering with your sanity – our young children who are early risers.
Often travelers are of the mindset that “the early bird gets the worm.” You want to hit the road early, so not to miss out on anything, and pack activities and sights into your day. This is understandable, but if you take a lazy day or two in between … the world will not stop turning. That beach isn’t going anywhere!
If you’re a hostel dweller, this might mean splurging on a private room for a night or two or investing in some really good earplugs.
Many of us find that it’s hard to sleep in at home, but once you’re in holiday mode you can just let go. You’ll be a new person!
And the golden rule is don’t ever feel guilty – just embrace the pillow. And on that note if you’re looking for our picks to stay, here are some great options.
Miracle of Bay of Islands water
Imagine… lying in bed with the ranch slider open, hearing waves lapping on the beach. Or picture yourself floating, weightless in the warm ocean. Or swimming with dolphins. Or chilling out with mates on a boat, fishing rod in one hand, a wine in the other.
Getting out on the water (or very close to it) is cathartic and meditative.
Researchers have found that green, outdoor environments can have a positive effect on self-esteem and mood, but it’s the open water that actually produces significantly larger improvements in mental well being.
And the beaches here are some of clearest and warmest in New Zealand (find our top picks here). Do you need any more reasons to join us?
Boost Vitamin D
A little sunshine every day can boost your mood, and if you want to be really scientific about it, can also help to prevent a host of serious illnesses. So make it a priority to soak in some sun while you’re here – it’s what the Bay is best at offering, especially in summer.
Note the sun in New Zealand is very harsh – so you should check burn times each day and keep sunscreen on you at all times, even if it’s cloudy. Sometimes burn time can be up to eight minutes during summer months, so it’s essential to manage your exposure when you’re out and about.
Social Media Detox
The benefits of switching off the grid for a while are well documented. Social media can create an “always on” state of alertness, which can be a struggle to turn off, and therefore you’re never really in a relaxed state of mind.
If the thought of going cold turkey scares you too much, perhaps just make an effort to reduce your phone use.
Look up, take some snaps, take in the moment and beauty of your surroundings, and post that update later!
Turn off your notifications so there are no temptations. Or have set hours in the day where you do your ‘checks’.
A good tip can be to take an old school alarm clock with you. We often use our phones as alarm clocks, then as soon as it goes off check emails and social feeds on autopilot. If you take this away, it can remove the “need” to check.
If you’re up for it though, we recommend taking a complete social media holiday.
Do something that challenges you
Push yourself beyond your preconceived limitations and do something new.
This is proven to be good for your brain, and pushing yourself a little can give you such a great buzz.
This doesn’t have to mean parachute jumping or deep water kayaking (although these things are definitely popular up here), but it may mean tasting something totally new, or saying yes to something that you usually wouldn’t.
Make your holiday a time where you ditch the normalcy of your daily routine.
Search our listings for activity ideas.
Most of us don’t need many excuses to treat ourselves a little while we’re on holiday – if time and wallets allow. Think of this as a well-deserved indulgence.
When it comes to pampering, price will often come into it. But there are plenty of amazing cost effective “treat” options in the area.
And for those on a break away who do want to splurge and really pleasure themselves, there are some tempting options for you as well.
We’ve chosen a few of our favourites here.
Pamper yourself at these top Bay of Islands spots
There are lots of well being treatments and services in the area, focusing on both body and mind.
They’re mainly based in-and-around the more populated areas of Paihia and Kerikeri, so they’re generally easy to access.
Here are some of our favourite “self care” venues, with some price-adjusted options.
If you’re looking for yoga in The Bay of Islands or a Paihia Spa Resort and massage parlour, be sure to check out our listings as well, for other suppliers.
Beauty in the Bay
Save: Basic Facial at Lush Beauty
Lush Beauty in Waipapa, just north of Kerikeri is, as it says, very Lush indeed, and they often have specials. Just check their website for the latest deals.
We suggest booking a basic facial, then adding an Aspect Facial Peel if you want to. There’s quite a range of prices for add-ons.
“Our Aspect skincare peels are innovative, non-traumatic peels that succeed by stimulating gentle healthy change deep in the skin, to create a beautiful, renewed complexion. You will achieve maximum results with minimum downtime”. Say the Lush crew.
This is the cheat’s way to a perfect, enviable complexion and flawless looking skin!
– Basic facial (60 mins): $95
Splurge: La Spa Naturale Body & Soul – Two-Night Package
We recommend ‘La Spa Naturale Body & Soul – Two Night Package’ from the luxurious Paihia Beach Resort and Spa.
You get two night’s luxury ocean-view accommodation in Spa Studio; featuring 6ft spa bath, luxurious super king bed and private balcony overlooking the Bay, and a full a la carte breakfast each morning for two people. Wowsers.
Plus, they’ll throw in a 30-minute massage in their exclusive ‘La Spa Naturale’ for both of you, and a private 30-minute steam room session.
You also get 30% discount off any further full price treatment at La Spa Naturale, for 1 hour or longer (they do everything from body peels, to facials, to massage).
They’ll also give you a welcome bottle of premium bubbles in room on arrival. A nice touch!
– Summer Rate – $1270 NZD
– Winter Rate – $890 NZD
Massage in the Bay
Massage in the Bay seems to be well priced compared to ‘city’ prices, and there’s not a huge difference in range, they are all around the same price range for an hour.
Here are a couple of great treatment options we adore.
Hot Stone Massage at Pure Bliss, Kerikeri
A hot stone treatment offers a great relaxation massage technique. While massaging, trained therapists smooth hot stones over you that generate liquid heat through your body, warming the muscles and soothing away your aches.
– 60mins $120
Outdoors massage at Russell Healing Massage
This treatment venue is located in Russell, so it’s a tad harder to get to than some of the centrally located beauty therapist shops.
However we love this place as you can get the most glorious massage in the relaxing setting of their purpose built garden.
You can listen to the stream running and the call of the Tui, whilst having the massage of your life from experienced therapists.
You can choose to go into their lovely indoor facility if you don’t want to be outside. But it really does add another level being ‘one with nature’.
A couple option for an hour is $200 (i.e. for both).
Soak in a hot pool
Save: Waiariki Hot Springs
The Ngawha Springs are located in the centre of a geothermal active area. People flock here for the pleasure of heated pools and the benefits of natural, healing minerals in the water. And it’s cheap as chips!
There are actually two hot pool complexes right next to each other: Waiariki Hot Springs and Ngawha Spa (the latter is currently closed for maintenance).
The pools at Waiariki are rustic, with water of different colours and temperatures, from black to green, contained in basic wooden pools. There are over 12 pools to choose from.
Don’t expect a fancy spa though – this place has a down to earth, community feel, with an honesty box in case the office is unattended.
Prices: Adults $4, high school students $2, primary students $1,under 5: free
Open 7 days, from 9 am – 9 pm.
Note – you’ll need a vehicle to get here – the pools are located five minutes drive from Kaikohe. From SH 12, Kaikohe, turn onto Ngawha Springs Road.
Splurge: Pool at the Copthorne Hotel & Resort
Situated on the shores of the beautiful Bay of Islands harbour and located within the Waitangi National Trust Reserve, this hotel offers water views within a subtropical park-like setting.
Plenty of the top hotels have spa pools available either outside or in rooms but we like the love the feel of this outdoor pool, surrounded by rocks and foliage.
A room here depends on the time of year. Like all hotels, rates can change so it’s best to do a comparison across a few websites.
At the time of writing (November) we found a two-night deal for two adults, for $275.
Yoga & Meditation in The Bay of Islands New Zealand
Save: Kerikeri Yoga Centre – casual class
We’d recommend taking a casual class at this awesome location in Kerikeri. Even one session of Yoga can help you feel rejuvenated.
It’s actually an old church hall that was relocated from Hikurangi, lovingly restored and modified into the most perfect yoga retreat in The Bay of Islands.
There are plenty of Iyengar yoga classes for various levels – a timetable is on their website.
A casual class is only $20 – or you can get a concession pass for more, depending on your length of stay.
Splurge: Two day Te Hine Ruru Retreat for Women
Te Hine Ruru retreats are designed for women to enjoy daily yoga and meditation, relaxing accommodation, delicious food and superb facilities.
The retreat is a luxurious waterfront venue in Russell, set on 40 acres.
Their ethos is to provide a place of sublime peace and natural beauty to inspire your wellbeing. Owners say it’s an idyllic space in which to reflect and explore, ‘to find the freedom to move from your head to your heart’.
They also offer on-site massage, wellbeing learning, kayaking, swimming, and walking.
All programmed activities and classes, accommodation, breakfast and dinner meals (not lunch) are included for each two-day retreat.
Prices indicated by room type ranging from $650 – $750pp.
And they’re all twin rooms.
It can be hard to secure a spot here, so get in ahead of time.