Hole in The Rock and Dolphin Cruise
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.