Pigeon Bay is a lot longer than most of the bays on Banks Peninsula. It is about 9 kms from Wakaroa Point to the beach and more like a harbour than a bay. Holmes Bay is a second smaller bay on the west side of the main bay.
Pigeon was named by early whalers for the enormous number of kererū (native wood pigeons) in the forest. The first few European settlers did it particularly tough. Arriving in 1844, they carved out a basic existence hunting native birds, wild pigs (releases dating back to Cook) and rudimentary cattle farming. In 1850, the first 4 ships arrived in Christchurch. This led to coastal services and a modest expansion of the local community.
As at the other northeast bays on Banks Peninsula, the permanent community did not grow much after this. But it was enough to eliminate the forest and kererū, and to erect a memorial after WWI.
From the hamlet, take Wharf Road north to the campground, a wharf, some boat sheds and a boat park up. Of the north coast bays, this is the one favoured for boating and you can access kayaks.
There is a walkway at the end of Wharf Road and you can get most of the way down the east side of the bay. There is also an option to hike as high as 320 metres above the bay.