We were up with the lark today, ready for the cruise around the Bay of Islands. Another beautiful day, so lots of sun cream, hats & water needed! Plus a packed lunch! We boarded the "Dolphin Seeker" & set sail for Russell, which was a base for the South Pacific whaling fleet in the 1830s. We of course got chatting to some of our fellow travellers on the cruise, some fom York, others from Canada & USA, most of whom were on a coach trip around New Zealand.
There are supposedly 144 islands in the Bay but the skipper reckoned that only 88 are 'real' islands, ie. not simply rocky outcrops! We sailed past a number of islands, most of which seem to be privately owned - how wonderful to have your own little island paradise! We went past "Assassination Cove" & Motuarohia (Roberton Island) where Captain James Cook anchored the "Endeavour". Otehei Bay is where author Zane Grey lived in 1926 & it's possible to camp & fish there. Urupukapuka Island is the largest in the Bay. We sailed on past endless beautiful bays, all breathtaking, until we reached Motukokako (hole in the rock) Luckily our boat was able to sail through the hole in the rock (only 30% are successful!), although I did have to curb the feeling of a need to breathe in! Then we were off again, past Deep Water Cove towards Otehei Bay. And there, just as we thought we'd missed them, we saw Dolphins! Wow! Such lovely creatures! They followed the boat for a while, jumping through the wash behind us! What a lovely sight! We were able to stop off in Otehei Bay for almost an hour & spent the time relaxing on the beach & enjoying the sun before the return journey. On the way back the boat docked at Russell so we decided to stay for a while & get a later, free, ferry back to Paihia. Russell is a really pretty little seaside village. We sat on a bench in the shade, overlooking the sea & ate our packed lunch. We got chatting to a New Zealander lady sharing the bench with us who told us that her son lives in Gloucester. It seems that most Kiwis have links to the UK of which they are very proud & willing to talk about! After walking around Russell for a few hours, having a cuppa in a beachfront cafe & taking lots of photos, we headed for the return ferry to Paihia. The scenery is just wonderful, whichever way you look.
No wonder they say that this place is good for the soul - it certainly makes my heart sing!!