My last (half) day at the Bay of Islands was spent on a four hour 'Hole in the Rock' cruise.
This half day cruise (edit) is not included in the price of Stray's Patch Pass. The cruise can be purchased via the Stray bus driver or individually from the Great Sights website. There are a few variations of this trip. Mine included dolphin sighting, hole in the rock experience and the island stopover where we had time to explore one of the islands and have our picnic lunch (self provided).
Our cruise departed from the Paihia ferry terminal around 9 in the morning. The ferry has then taken us around many of the islands in a search of the dolphins.
This cruise provides you with the opportunity to swim with dolphins (extra 30 NZD paid in cash on the boat) if the following conditions are met:
There are dolphins to be found
There are no baby dolphins in the pod
Only 10 people are allowed to swim with dolphins at the same time
There is a period of time between 11 am and midday when swimming is not permitted
Great Sights also offers Dolphin Viewing Guarantee which allows you to retake the tour for free in case there was no sighting of the dolphins.
We were lucky enough to find a playful pod of dolphins. As there was a baby dolphin sighted, the swimming was not permitted with that particular pod.
One of the main events of the cruise was when we approached the famous Hole in the Rock.
Motukokako is one of the 144 islands in the Bay of Islands. It is, however, set apart from the other islands by a 16 meters high hole carved in it. (To me the island looks like a drinking dragon :D)
If the weather conditions are good - the skipper guides the ship through the hole. We were lucky with the conditions and our ship was able to make it through.
It is said that Maori warriors would paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle and that drops of water falling from the cave roof above were a good omen.
Our next stop was Otehei Bay on the Urupukapuka Island where we had time to have a picnic lunch and to walk up the hill to take in the incredible views of The Bay of Islands.
Our tour returned back to Paihia around 1pm which gave me enough time to collect my things from the lovely Haka Lodge, have a quick lunch and then wait for my bus back to Auckland.
Many people will say that when visiting New Zealand - South Island is the one you should go to. Personally, I have not been on the South Island yet but I can most definitely recommend North of the North Island.
I absolutely loved Cape Reinga and the sight of two oceans meeting there will most definitely stay in my memory for a long long time. Waitangi Treaty Grounds is another important place to visit if you want to learn more about how New Zealand became what it is today. Mangrove walk to Haruru falls is absolutely magical, and of course, one cannot miss one of the biggest North Island attractions - Hole in the Rock, or as I call it , The Drinking Dragon. :D
I cannot wait to discover more of this beautiful country and I will make sure to share my travels on this blog as well so you can get a taste of New Zealand no matter where in the world you are.