Annual vacation took us to New Zealand for about 18 days. Auckland is the usual port of entry for most international visitors to NZ. We flew in from New Delhi via Kuala Lumpur. As per our itinerary, we had planned to be in Auckland for 5 days. On the 3rd day of arrival, we undertook this beautiful day trip to a small town name Paihia towards extreme north of Auckland. It’s roughly about 200 km drive but a scenic one especially the last quarter of it. Our plan there was to explore Bay of Islands & do some Dolphin watching as well.

How to Get There

We Intercity Bay of Islands plus Hole in the Rock Dolphin tour from Auckland. Their buses leave from Bus Terminal at Hobson Street and arrive back there only. Bus terminal was about 10 minutes’ walk from our rented loft. It’s a 4 hour drive to the wharf at Paihia. The return bus leaves at 4:30 pm from the front of the wharf and gets you back in Auckland by 8:10 pm. It costs NZD 119 per person & includes two way bus trip and 2 hour cruise at Paihia. Considering it’s a 12 hour day trip, I think it is a reasonable price.

What to Do & See

As it’s a relatively an early morning start, we slept for a little while in the bus. Once the bus dropped us at 12 noon near Paihia wharf, we had about 80 minutes for lunch and local sightseeing. While there isn’t much to see but we did walk around on the side street leading to residential part of this small town. This exploration gave us couple of beautiful shots.  We had a nice lunch of fish & chips right at the waterfront and then proceeded for boarding our cruise.

There was ample space in the vessel both inside & outside. But it was extremely windy. Bay of Islands area has beautiful coast and there is much to see and click by being on the deck. Highlight of the trip was this natural formation named ‘Hole in the Rock’ or ‘Motu Kokako’ in local language. The captain actually took the cruise through this hole slowly with immense dexterity and skill. It was just awesome. Blue Water, natural formation, wind in the hair made it one hell of a trip.

Hole in the Rock – The boat actually goes through it !!!

On our way back to Wharf, we did manage to see some Dolphins who started swimming along the boat. Weather permitting, one is allowed to jump in water and swim with them.

Family of Dolphins swimming along

Deft Tips:

  • Pick food from the wharf as the tuck shop on board is expensive
  • Give your best smile when boarding the ship, as you are clicked with your family. You may just get the souvenir you need for back home.
  • Group or family of 3 or more people may find it cheaper to do this trip in a rental car.

While there are lot of countries in world that are well endowed natural, New Zealand has nurtured that gift and made it a heaven on earth. Geographical isolation also helps the cause but still the efforts of the state & citizens in conserving nature are visible to all.