Famed for its stunning coastal scenery, this place with its 144 islands MUST be explored by boat. So we booked an overnight cruise from Rotorua, where we were grounded due to torrential rainfall for two consecutive days, just keeping our fingers crossed that the weather would improve or be different up north. Our boat, the Rock, has a very interesting history – it used to be a car ferry and was transformed into a very comfortable cruise boat to sleep 36 passengers.
Speaking of history – The Bay of Islands was the site of the first European settlement. There, the Treaty of Waitangi was also signed by 46 Maori chiefs and representatives of the English Crown in 1840.
Our group left Wednesday late afternoon in drizzling rain that turned into thunderstorms. That was probably the reason why nobody caught any fish, our dinner. Well, the crew had actually a good back up plan, so we munched away on a delicious meal after all.
The crew consisted mainly of young English people on a working holiday. They were good fun and extremely motivated to make us feel comfortable. Also on board was the very guy who changed the ferry into a cruise boat and the couple who owns the business, also fantastic people. This trip is definitely worth the 165 NZ Dollars. There are a few twin rooms, bit it is mostly four and six bed dorms, but since the trip was not fully booked, we had lots space.
Sun! We woke up underneath a bright sky and balmy temperatures, how lucky can you be! While enjoying breakfast, a group of dolphins followed our boat jumping around for a little while. We then spent the day kayaking to a small island called Peterson, there walked up to the highest point from where we had a spectacular view over Bay of Islands. Those who dared the 19 degree water temperature went snorkelling. In the meantime, the crew collected green mussels and sea urchins, which we ate together with our lunch sandwiches. Not everybody sample the sea urchins though!
After arriving back a port in Paiha, we went straight down to Whangarei where we stay at the Little Earth Lodge, another BBH with a well deserved very high ranking. Our original plan was to go scuba diving at the nearby world famous Poor Knights Island, but our doubts became heavier and heavier. Heidi worried about going 25 kilometres straight out into the Pacific. Her suspicion was justified: after googling a bit she came upon a travel report that mainly talked about people getting sea sick. Moreover, the 225 NZ Dollars (180 USD!) for a two tanks dive seemed simply outrageous: this is even much more than what we paid in French Polynesia! Well, maybe we missed a great diving spot…