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Bay of Islands

With an idyllic climate and over 140 sub-tropical atolls, 40 parks and reserves, 800 kilometres of coastline and many of the historic buildings - The Bay of Islands is a popular holiday destination. This region also plays an active role in the history of New Zealand and is a key driver in Northland tourism.

See an abundance of marine life including dolphins, seals, penguins, whales and gannets - many charter companies will take you further out among the islands to explore the incredible geographic features such as ‘Hole in the Rock.' Yacht chartering is another great way to explore the natural beauty of the area. The seas further out of the marine park are renowned for their big game fishing with marlin, broadbills and game sharks all found in the waters.

The small township of Russell - just across the harbour from Paihia is renowned for its history. A visit to the Pompallier Mission house and the local museum, followed by a stroll to New Zealand's oldest church is highly recommended. Russell is also home to many fine restaurants and cafes as well as the nations oldest licensed premises, the Duke of Marlborough. A visit to Waitangi, the birthplace of modern New Zealand is a must - as is a visit to the historic treaty house.

Discover the Bay Cruise with Explore

Discover the Bay Cruise with Explore

Explore the Bay of Island as you cruise among the 144 islands and  visit the world famous Hole in the Rock. See an abundance of marine mammals and wildlife and learn about the rich history and culture of the local Maori people.

You’ll cruise aboard a modern high-speed catamaran, purpose-built for dolphin and whale watching in the Bay, and equipped with underwater cameras for close up marine mammal viewing .  You’ll also travel through the iconic Hole in the Rock (weather permitting) before stopping at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island for lunch or afternoon tea and a unique cultural experience including a flax weaving and a Maori remedies workshop. You’ll also have the option of spending the remainder of the day on Urupukapuka Island before catching the Otehei Bay Ferry back to the mainland.

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with Fullers GreatSights

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with Fullers GreatSights

Board the Dolphin Seeker cruise and take in the stunning views as you glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over and Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known the ‘Hole in the Rock’. According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space. Keep an eye out for dolphins, whales and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as you get up close to the action.

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with Fullers GreatSights

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with Fullers GreatSights

Board your cruise and take in the stunning views as you glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over and Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known the ‘Hole in the Rock’. According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as you get up close to the action. The purpose-built catamaran is licensed by DOC (the Department of Conservation) for dolphin viewing and the crew have years of experience locating dolphins in these waters. Dolphin Seeker has indoor and outdoor seating available, and the largest outdoor viewing decks in the Bay of Islands.

The Cream Trip - Day in the Bay with Fullers GreatSights

The Cream Trip - Day in the Bay with Fullers GreatSights

In 1927, Albert Ernest Fuller acquired a delivery route around the Bay of Islands known as the Cream Trip. Locals and visitors began to come along for the ride, and tourism in the Bay of Islands was born. Today you still follow the original Cream Trip route on a relaxed day-long cruise. This is the perfect cruise for nature lovers and is the most extensive historical cruise offered in the Bay of Islands. Enjoy stunning views of the islands as we travel out through the islands on the new vessel Te Maki, making deliveries along the way. On arrival at Cape Brett Lighthouse, the farthest post of the original Cream Trip, you will be taken through the stunning Hole in the Rock at Motukokako Island. You’ll also see the impressive Black Rocks and Marsden Cross, where the first Christian sermon in New Zealand was held in 1814. See dolphins in their natural environment and if conditions are suitable, go swimming alongside these inquisitive creatures – it’s a life-changing experience (must be pre-booked). Alternatively try boom-netting, hanging on to the net as you glide through the water. Spend some time at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka island - relax on the beach, head up to the viewing point for a breathtaking outlook, and grab a snack at the island's cafe. Ninety years on, the Cream Trip cruise is still the best way to see the Bay.

Sail the Bay of Islands on The Phantom

Sail the Bay of Islands on The Phantom

Sail the Bay of Islands with a small group for a personalised island adventure. Enjoy sailing to an island stop-over where you can swim, snorkel, explore and discover in beautiful surroundings. Your vessel for the day is The Phantom, a classic ocean racing sloop built by C&C Yachts in 1972. If you like you can take the helm and with a little help from your crew, experience her pedigree for yourself. You will instantly appreciate her beauty, and feel safe and comfortable on this heavy displacement performance yacht.  On board you'll also enjoy 'the best lunch in the bay' according to Lonely Planet, comprising delicious New Zealand cheeses, fruits, home-made breads and more.

Discover Kerikeri Tour with Fullers GreatSights

Discover Kerikeri Tour with Fullers GreatSights

Take a relaxed tour of Kerikeri, a small town rich in history. Explore the mission station and its grounds, home to New Zealand's oldest standing European buildings: the Stone Store and Kerikeri Mission House (Kemp House). The iconic Stone Store stands at the edge of the Kerikeri inlet, offering a unique shopping experience with an interactive story space upstairs. See how the early settlers lived and learn about the building’s many lives as a trading post, library, barracks, school and general store. Built in 1822, Kemp House is the country’s oldest surviving building, surrounded by English-style cottage garden and orchards. Hear the story of the first missionary families and see their personal items and furniture preserved over the years. Reverend Marsden is said to have planted the first grapevines in New Zealand in 1819, and today wine is one of many reasons people come to Kerikeri. Visit Ake Ake vineyard, a family-run boutique operation set just outside Kerikeri, and sample their organically-grown wines. Tour the vineyard and see how the grapes are grown before tasting their range. Your tour of Kerikeri concludes with a visit to the Makana Chocolate Factory where you can watch delicious chocolates, truffles, caramels and toffees being made by hand. Taste samples and of course shop for gifts – or just indulge yourself!

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with Fullers GreatSights

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with Fullers GreatSights

Board your cruise and take in the stunning views as you glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over and Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known the ‘Hole in the Rock’. According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as you get up close to the action. The purpose-built catamaran is licensed by DOC (the Department of Conservation) for dolphin viewing and the crew have years of experience locating dolphins in these waters. Dolphin Seeker has indoor and outdoor seating available, and the largest outdoor viewing decks in the Bay of Islands.

Earl Grey Fishing Snapper Half Day Trip - Shared Charter

Earl Grey Fishing Snapper Half Day Trip - Shared Charter

Shared fishing charters offer a full range of fishing options tailored to suit everyone's individual needs and experience. From saltwater fly, light tackle, live baiting and jig fishing they welcome both novice and experienced anglers. Your experienced fishing guide offers expert local knowledge for the discerning angler and patient tuition for the novice to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to land their catch. Snapper fishing trips are generally within the inner bay. Pilchards, squid and mackerel are the most common bait used but the odd live bait is always handy as big Snapper are quite partial to these tempting morsels. Ledger and stray line rigs are predominantly used for this species but jigs and soft baits (artificial rubber-like teasers) can also be effective for those experienced anglers keen to preserve. Quality fishing tackle and morning or afternoon tea is provided. You can decide whether to release the fish you catch or take them back to your accommodation for eating. Smoking, canning or vacuum packaging can be arranged.

Hokianga Tour Giants and Glowworms with Fullers GreatSights

Hokianga Tour Giants and Glowworms with Fullers GreatSights

Travel to Hokianga and meet your local Māori guide, then venture into the ancient Waipoua Kauri Forest for an unforgettable encounter. Learn about life in the forest and hear Māori waiata (songs), myths and legends as your guide takes you on an intimate journey through nature and explains how the lives of local Māori are intertwined with the forest. The Waipoua forest is home to some of the most significant kauri trees still standing. The most famous Kauri is the impressive Tāne Mahuta (the Lord of the Forest). The largest known kauri tree in the world aged up to 2,500 years old, his mighty girth is over 13 metres and he stands an impressive 51 metres (167 feet) high. Stand beneath this ancient giant and hear the legend of how he separated earth and sky at the beginning of the world. After your forest encounter, spend some time in the Hokianga town of Opononi before turning back towards Paihia along the old stagecoach route. This trail was first marked out by early Māori and then frequented by traders and merchants who transported supplies, kauri, gum and timber between the coasts. On your way back, stop at the Kawiti Glowworm Caves and discover one of Northland's best-kept secrets. These family-run caves will delight you with twinkling glowworms, amazing limestone rock formations including stalactites and stalagmites, all surrounded in lush green native forest.

Ocean Adventure with Explore

Ocean Adventure with Explore

Offering an exhilarating experience as you blast to the Hole in the Rock within a return time of one and a half hours, Ocean Adventure offers the perfect balance of exploration and exhilaration as you fast track your journey through the iconic scenery of the Bay of Islands.

R. Tucker Thompson Sundowner Sailing with Fullers GreatSights

R. Tucker Thompson Sundowner Sailing with Fullers GreatSights

A perfect way to end the day. Experience the Bay of Islands the old-fashioned way with a cruise on the R. Tucker Thompson, a traditional gaff-rigged schooner with her own unique history. On the Sundowner Sailing, take in the views as the ship sails across the sheltered waters of the inner harbour. Enjoy an antipasto platter as the sun starts to set.
About the R. Tucker Thompson - Built from 1970-1985, the R. Tucker Thompson’s design is based on the halibut schooners of the North West American coast. With a lofty rig of varnished oregon spars, Kwila decks and bulwarks and brasswork features, she looks the part of a 19th century working ship: purposeful and square-shouldered, but fast enough to out-run the law!

Sand Safaris Cape Reinga Tour

Sand Safaris Cape Reinga Tour

This tour includes a bus trip up the full length of Ninety Mile Beach, stopping to see the rugged views of the West Coast. You will get to go Sand Boarding at the Giant Sand Dunes of TePaki,drive up the infamous quicksand stream, and head up to Cape Reinga where you will walk to The Lighthouse and take in the panoramic views of where the Tasman meets the Pacific.

Skydive Bay of Islands

Skydive Bay of Islands

Skydiving over the Bay of Islands gives you the best possible view of the 144 islands that make up the spectacular Bay of Island and when you’re 2 miles up you can even see the curve of the earth – remarkable!  To begin you skydive experience you’ll be collected in a luxury stretch limousine, a superbly stylish way to get to the drop zone.  As well as the fun stuff you’ll also be pleased to know Skydive Bay of Islands is certified to the highest possible standard by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority, ensuring that your skydive will not only be the most thrilling thing you do this year, but also one of the safest.

New Zealand touring ideas

A popular style of touring is to take a preplanned self drive road trip.  After a thorough consultation with you we expertly plan and create your self drive tour around New Zealand allows you the freedom to explore at leisure with the comfort and security of pre-booked activities and accommodations. Route suggestions, GPS and APP guidance plus local support mean you are in safe hands. See self drive ideas here

If you prefer to let someone else do the work then an escorted small group tour or a private guided tour might be for you. Our range of hand picked small group itineraries are ideal if you prefer to travel in the company of like minded people. These tours limit the number of participants which means different accommodation options, exclusive activities and of course a knowledgable guide ensures you get to see the best of New Zealand. See our small group tours here. 

A private guided tour offers true flexibility and the security of a knowledgable local guiding you all the way. Well planned itineraries ensure you see exactly what you want to see but with your own driver-guide you can adapt to suit the day or your preference. 100% tailor-made to suit you a private tour is a great option when travelling as a small group. all our self drive itineraries can be replanned and priced using a private driver and guide. Just contact us to discuss your needs.

All North Island touring ideas - explore the diverse North Island with these itinerary suggestions. See here

All South Island touring ideas - Iconic scenery and landscapes await on this made for touring island. See here

All Nationwide touring ideas - see the best of New Zealand on these all encompassing touring itinerary ideas. See here

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