The aim of the NA61/SHINE ion programme is to explore the QCD phase diagram within the range of thermodynamical variables accessible by the SPS. In addition, the experiment provides precision hadron production measurements for description of the neutrino beam of the T2K experiment at J-PARC and for simulation of cosmic-ray showers for the Pierre Auger Observatory, KASCADE-Grande and KASCADE experiments. The main physics goals of the NA61/SHINE ion programme are the study of the properties of the onset of deconfinement and the search for signatures of the critical point of strongly interacting matter. These goals are pursued by performing an energy (beam momentum 13A–158AGeV/c) and system size (p + p, p+Pb, Be+Be, Ar+Ca, Xe+La) scan. The architecture and performance of the detector will be discussed. Moreover, an overview of the recent NA61/SHINE status, results and plans will be presented.