Bay of Islands
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New Zealand: Bay of Islands
These are summertime voyages to the Bay of Islands: Where you’ll discover uninhabited sanctuary islands, watch dolphins at play, visit fascinating historic places and enjoy superb cuisine, served with endless sea views. You will discover perfect beaches, untouched native forests and fabulous walks. In terms of New Zealand’s history this region is the birthplace of our nation.
Welcome to Auckland and your Bay of Islands cruise.
You’ll find Island Escape moored at Auckland’s Princes Wharf – boarding is at 5 pm for a 6 pm departure. Once onboard please make yourselves at home in your cabins then join the Captain, crew and fellow passengers for cocktails and canapés on deck. Relax and mingle as we cast-off into Waitemata Harbour, taking in evening views of Auckland’s waterfront, harbour bridge and glittering skyline. We head into the Hauraki Gulf, passing Devonport North Head and the dormant volcanic island of Rangitoto on our port side. We anchor for the night in a secluded bay at nearby Waiheke Island and set the table for a delicious dinner together to celebrate the start of your adventure.
Rise early, and you can start day two with a refreshing swim off the stern of the ship (or sleep in a little!) before joining the others for a sumptuous breakfast on the aft deck. We’ll take you ashore for a short walk up to Oneroa, Waiheke’s charming little township. You’ll find funky craft shops, galleries and eateries to explore – look out for local Waiheke wines and produce. We’ll get you back on board in time for lunch and get ready for our passage out to Great Barrier Island across the beautiful Hauraki Gulf. Once under-way, Island Escape‘s bow is the place to be – there is a good chance we will encounter pods of dolphins, they often come to play in our bow-wave. Whales frequent the Hauraki gulf also so keep an eye out – the crew will help you spot them if they are around. Great Barrier Island’s distinctive jagged skyline and verdant hillsides will soon come in to view – our anchorage tonight is spectacular Port Fitzroy Harbour.
Great Barrier Island is wild, remote and unspoilt – you’ll wake on day three to a real sense of being ‘away-from-it-all’. Fitzroy Harbour is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful natural harbours with a colourful history of whaling, gold mining, shipwrecks and alternative lifestyles. Today you have the opportunity to explore the island’s coastline by landing craft with the First Mate and maybe do a bit of fishing. We sail north towards the Bay of Islands after dinner. Off the coast, far from major habitation, clear dark skies give stargazers a spectacular celestial canopy.
During the night, we round Cape Brett and anchor in the beautiful turquoise waters of Oke Bay – one of our favourite spots. Feel free to dive off the stern, and perhaps swim to the white sandy beach before breakfast. Dolphins are regular visitors to the Oke Bay, they are bold and enjoy playing around the ship, keep an eye out for them.
We take to the air after breakfast – helicopters pick you up from Island Escape’s helipad, whisking you away to get stunning views across the Bay of Islands – don’t forget your cameras! The afternoon of day four is spent bay-hopping for swims and beach exploration. You always have the option to relax onboard of course. We anchor in Parekura Bay just before sunset, then sit down to another beautiful dinner and perhaps share a few photos of the day’s adventures.
Today we head west to the beautiful Motuarohia-Roberton Island and moor up exactly where Captain James Cook anchored his ship Endeavour in 1769.
You can explore the island in many different ways – snorkel in the sheltered lagoon, kayak around the Bay or hike up to the historic Maori Pa site. From the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Bay. After lunch, we motor back across to Urupukapuka island, the largest in the Bay, to enjoy it’s crystal clear waters and collect green-lipped mussels from our special spot. They make a lovely afternoon snack served with a chilled sauvignon blanc and some gentle herbs from our chef’s onboard garden.
We anchor for the night off Russell.
After breakfast on day six, you can explore Russell. The town has a rich history – known in the old whaling days as the lawless ‘the hellhole of the Pacific’ – it became the first capital of New Zealand in 1840. Russell today retains an old-world charm – enjoy the shops and cafes or perhaps take a ferry across the Bay and visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. We usually all end up back at Russell’s waterfront in the afternoon, gathering at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel’s veranda bar. Enjoy a drink here with the Captain while overlooking the Bay before returning to the ship for dinner.
Overnight we head south again, returning to Waiheke Island.
Day seven and there’s an aroma of fresh coffee and croissants in the air! Returning to the opposite end of Waiheke Island in time to go ashore and visit Ostend Market, Waiheke’s Saturday morning craft and produce fair. Our vineyard and olive oil tasting tours are next on the itinerary – Waiheke has a multitude of wineries and produces some of New Zealand’s best wines. You will start to understand the charm of this beautiful island. In the afternoon, the First Officer will lead a fishing trip to help supply our chef with fresh ingredients for our celebratory dinner party tonight.
Lifting anchor at 7.30 am, we say farewell to Waiheke and breakfast is served on deck as we cruise back to into Auckland.
We begin guest disembarkation from 9 am alongside Princes Wharf.
We wish you a safe onward journey, taking home with you memories of magical islands, adventure, great food, good company.