We got up early to make the 8:45am cruise. We got cappuccinos in town and got aboard in time. It’s ‘shoulder season’ so the boat was half full, about 25 people. A comfortable number, no crowding!
We started across the bay towards Russell, but didn’t stop there. Our first stop was on the small island of Motuarohia not too far away. It is known for being the first landfall in Bay of Islands for Captain Cook in 1769!
A quick hike up a trail and stairway took us to an observation deck with 360 degree views! The sun came out and we enjoyed the expansive views.
Looking further to the right, we could see back into the interior of the Bay of Islands, named so by Captain Cook when he had the same view in 1769!After about 40 minutes we reboarded and cruised past several other islands of interest, then headed through a passage between two of them, out to the open ocean!
We passed by several remote rocks looking for seals, we spotted a few, but never did see any dolphins riding the wake of the boat. Our next stop was to view the Cape Brett lighthouse and Keepers House. They can be reached by boat, helicopter or a long, arduous hike to the tip of Cape Brett! Even by boat, you would still have a 2 hour hike up the hill to the lighthouse!
Finally we arrived at Hole in the Rock (Motu Kokako in Maori language).
The guides gave us information about the Maori traditions and mythology of the rock, including the maiden looking out to sea, protecting all sailors! The sea was calm on one side, and rough on the other! We were able to motor through hole in the rock. It was surprisingly calm water through the passage, but the wind picked up when we emerged and it was a bumpy ride back into the Bay of Islands! Our last stop was in Otehei Bay on Orupukapuka island for lunch at the cafe (or bring your own, as we did).
The island is the largest in the Bay of Islands and Otehei Bay was Zane Grey’s fishing camp in the 1920’s and became a world famous resort as a consequence. Since 1979 the entire island is a Recreation Reserve managed by the Department of Conservation for recreation and conservation of native species. We had a relaxing lunch outside in the sunshine, and then enjoyed a glass of wine out of the wind in the cafe!We returned from our cruise in the early afternoon and had time to relax, then grill the lamb steaks we bought yesterday!