Three free excursions in one cruise!  Bay of Islands definitely seems out of place to what I had imagined New Zealand to be.  It would fit better in the Caribbean – turquoise waters, lush islands, and tropical weather (my extreme sunburn can attest to that).  This tour consisted of a catamaran ride around the islands all the way to the famous Hole in the Rock.  I know going from a ship to another boat is not exactly all crewmembers’ idea of a day off, but this experience blew my expectations out of the water!

First of all, we never had the water to ourselves.  Sailboats circled aplenty, dolphins (yes, dolphins!) weaving in and out of the wakes, eager to find the most exciting one that can take them the furthest.  They even paid our boat a visit.  Seeing dolphins in their natural habitat and state of playfulness is a truly magical experience.  I spent the entire ride sitting on the bow, taking in the fresh ocean air and capturing as much vitamin D as I could, hence the sunburn.  The ride was rough – our boat bounced, dipped, and pitched with some pretty strong swells but eventually we won the battle and made it all the way to the Hole in the Rock and that’s just what it is…a beautiful testament to mother nature’s power and elegance.

Getting off the boat, I had to rush back to the ship, however before returning I noticed that the actual town has quite the appeal as well.  I look forward to going back to this amazing place, perhaps even for a dive.