After a couple of days of lovely weather the clouds started to roll in, which was a shame because today we would be boarding a catamaran for a trip around the Bay of Islands. Departure was a bit rushed because we didn’t get our ‘wake-up’ call from the hotel. From then on, lesson learnt, I programmed an alarm on my mobile phone.
The boat set out from the wharf at point 1 on the map above and stopped at the Russell jetty (point 2) to pick up a few more passengers. Then we were off into unfamiliar waters around Tapeka Point. Our captain, a woman, kept up a running commentary as we sailed.
One fellow (there’s always one) stood on the vessel’s forward deck for the entire trip despite the wind, rain, and spray.
The Bay of Islands was formed when the sea drowned a number of river valleys. The place is somewhat reminiscent of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam in that there are so many of them but several of the islands are larger. We made a brief stop at the largest island, UruPukapuka, to drop off staff who would prepare lunch for our return trip then we continued on past the Cape Brett Peninsula. There’s been a lighthouse up there since 1910, a lonely isolated, windswept spot. These days it’s operated by clockwork. 
Our main objective was the Hole in the Rock, a famous landmark at the entrance to the bay. By that time it was too rough to consider going through the hole. Even much smaller craft kept their distance.
The skipper pointed out another feature in the rock which will eventually become another hole in the rock. I doubt we’ll be around to see it. It’s called Cathedral Cave, obviously at the base of a crack in the rock.
We stopped briefly at Deep Water Cove which was used in the past to allow access to the lighthouse for maintenance. The jetty is no longer used. By people, anyway. Thousands of seabirds were roosting on the rocks, most (I think) silver gulls, enjoying this safe, sheltered spot. That was the lighthouse keeper’s house back in the day but these days it’s now repurposed as a Department of Conservation hut where hikers can stay.
By now it was time for lunch. The skipper took us back to the calm waters of Urupukapuka Island. It’s a pretty spot, with lovely calm beaches. The staff we’d dropped off earlier had set up a canteen style operation in a hall where we could buy sandwiches, hot drinks, and beer and wine. We bought tasty, surprisingly cheap, sandwiches and good coffee, and watched the world go by. The weather had cleared and there was enough time for the more energetic to walk up the tracks and enjoy the ocean views.
From there we sailed back to Paihia via Russell and boarded our Ultimate coach for a leisurely drive back to Auckland, where we would stay another night in the Grand hotel.
By the way, if you’ve happened upon this page by accident and you’d like to read more about the tour, go to the tour page where you’ll find the rest of our adventures.