Our cruise followed the New Zealand coast line (in international waters so that gambling and drinking could be carried out on ship without penalty) with our first port of call being the Bay of Islands.
We woke up as we cruised into the bay that has 144 islands and is classified as a marine park. Prior to embarking we had investigated the shore excursions offered for an additional price by the shipping company. To us, they were prohibitively expensive (we both have Scottish ancestory) and we opted to do our own thing. We looked at what was on offer and then looked to see the availability of it via land based companies. We researched the ports and what we might do. We only booked one tour this way on the railway at Dunedin. I’m glad we did as those that didn’t, and also bypassed the ships tours, missed out. We had decided for the Bay of Islands we would be sick of being on the water and opted to walk around the town of Paihia and catch a ferry to Russell and possibly (which we did not have time for) a trip to Waitangi where the treaty that recognised Maori land rights was signed in 1840.
There was no port here to disembark via and we assembled in the dining room where we were given a number. We waited until it was called and we were taken down into the bowels of the ship (deck 4) where we were handed into a tender for the trip to the town.
We were crammed in like sardines with some sitting on the roof outside in the elements.
On disembarking, a bus, provided free of charge by the visitor information centre took us into the town a short distance away.
On the way we passed this boat that had seen a chequered history. In the early days it was a fishing boat and then a trader. The chap who owned her didn’t heed a warning that the bridge that was nearing completion would be too low for her to travel under. The bridge builders weren’t waiting and the boat found itself stranded on the wrong side of the bridge and there it stays. It has since been a restaurant and other activities catering for the tourists.
We also passed an area which we were told represented some of the 45 chiefs that signed the treaty of Waitangi with representatives of Queen Victoria. The town of Paihia was settled by missionaries in the 182os and today is the jumping off point for water activities at one of its three beaches or by boat to the various scenic places, such as the hole in the rock which we didn’t visit. Of course it had many coffee shops and eateries. We opted to catch a ferry across the bay to Russell which had grown as a holiday destination for sailors off the trading vessells. It had a reputation for lawlessness and loose women. A bit like New Zealand’s version of the wild west. Now it is a beautiful historic town. It became well known in the 1920’s ask big game fisherman and writer Zane Grey published it as “The Angler’s El Dorado.”
On the way we saw lots of little islands
and wondered if these had been counted in the 144.
We also had a good view of the stern of the ship.
We wandered the streets enjoying the old buildings.
Old church yards are also a place that tells you much when looking at the headstones. There were many graves of maori chiefs and their wives in this cemetery.
Some of the buildings were grand.
Some invited relaxing and soaking in the view. We had a seafood chowder which was yummy before returning to Paihia where we walked back to the tenders along the beach rather than returning via the bus.
It was getting on to three (deadline 4pm) and the queues of those returning were long. Somehow, it didn’t take us long before we we were on the tender
and back on board for a scenic departure from the Bay of Islands.