Picturesque views of the Bay of Islands

Our Rock Boat Cruise of the Bay of Islands

After a pretty hideous 23-hour journey we made it to New Zealand. So what were our first impressions of Auckland? That it looked very similar to England; it was almost as if we’d been on a plane for hours but hadn’t really gone anywhere. That first day and night we both felt a bit shell shocked as we slowly realised we were literally on the other side of the world without a home or job to go back to, which made me question: ‘What the hell have we done’?  Thankfully, after a good sleep those fears disappeared and as we headed up to Paihia for our overnight Bay of Islands cruise, we were excited to finally be starting our adventure.

Our Tour of the Bay of Islands
Explore the Bay of Islands

The Rock Boat Overnight Cruise

Seeing the New Zealand Bay of Islands was high on our list of activities and so we pre-booked a stay on the Rock Overnight Cruise, which came highly recommended by other travel bloggers. As we arrived in the small seaside town of Paihia to board the Rock Boat we looked out over the never-ending ocean studded with green-topped islands – there was no mistaking it, we definitely weren’t in the UK anymore.

Our first view of Paihia

I had been worried about seasickness, but once on board the journey was unbelievably smooth, it would have been easy to forget we were on a boat at all had it not been for the whir of the engine and the incredible views that surrounded us on all sides. The cruise lasted 22 hours – pretty much as long as our flight out here – but it absolutely flew by. The crew were great and kept us busy with activities, on the first night we had a go at target shooting, fishing (we didn’t catch anything unfortunately) and night kayaking. All these activities were completely new to me and because of my irrational fear of sharks I was particularly nervous about getting in a kayak in the pitch-black ocean. However, this trip is supposed to be about doing new things, even if they do scare us, so I gave it a try.

Andrew fishing at dusk in the Bay of Islands

Amy target shooting

Despite paddling backwards to begin with and struggling with my achy arms I eventually got the hang of the kayak and the reward was well worth it as we gazed up at the most amazing night sky I’ve ever seen. A few months ago I visited the planetarium in Greenwich and saw what the sky looks like unmasked by London pollution; I remember being astounded that you could actually see planets and the Milky Way. Well, that’s exactly what we saw as we floated below in our kayaks and London felt like an entirely different universe. Even the water was magical, filled with phosphorescent plankton which glows when touched, leaving a trail of sparkles as you drag your hand through the water.  Who knew nature could be so remarkable?

Cabin on The Rock

Day Two

We awoke early and threw back the curtains to be greeted by a calm sea, sparkling in the morning sunlight. After breakfast we cruised the bay for a while before embarking on another new activity for me – snorkelling. We plunged into the cold, clear waters scouring the depths for all kinds of colourful fish. Andrew managed to dive down and retrieve some Kina, a type of sea urchin, which the crew later showed us how to cut open and eat.

Andrew after his snorkelling search for Kina

One of my favourite parts of the cruise was our stop on one of the islands; the views as we trekked to the very highest point were more than spectacular:

Picturesque views of the Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands beach, New Zealand

The Bay of Islands, New Zealand

To top the day off, on the journey back to Paihia dolphins started swimming alongside our boat as if to say: “Welcome to New Zealand – we think you’ll love it here!”

Here’s a video of our Rock Boat experience:

The Perfect Way to Start our Travels

The Rock Boat cruise was the perfect introduction to New Zealand and our new life of travel. In less than 24 hours I did more new things than I have in the past year back in the UK; it’s hard to believe that just a few days ago we were back in the British winter, battling with snow and dull, grey skies. The Bay of Islands is stunning – a must-see if you’re visiting the North Island and we’d both highly recommend a stay on the Rock Boat for the scenery, the activities and the friendly crew.

The Rock crew cruising the Bay of Islands

our rock boat cruise of the bay of islands

Pin Me For Later!

As we sat on the top deck of the boat on the third day of our adventure, with the sun on our faces and dolphins bounding along beside us a single thought filled my head:

I’m so glad to be here.

The Bay of Islands, Paradise

*You can find out more about the Rock Overnight Cruise on their website; the company kindly gave us a 10% discount off of our cruise.

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22 Comments
  • Patti
    Posted at 19:57h, 08 March Reply

    What a great way to start this new chapter!

    • Amy
      Posted at 20:33h, 08 March Reply

      Hi Patti, yes, we couldn’t have imagined a better start to our trip.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    Posted at 02:20h, 09 March Reply

    You guys don’t do anything by half measures, do you? 😉 What an ambitious first few days of your trip. Looks like you had a blast and kicked things off in the best possible way!

    • Amy
      Posted at 23:40h, 09 March Reply

      Yep, we’ve definitely gotten off to a flying start! We are just realising though that we can’t keep this pace up for long – I’m looking forward to a couple of rest days.

  • Beast
    Posted at 14:15h, 11 March Reply

    What a great way to start your adventure, sounds like a brilliant trip. Don’t forget to slow down and have some rest days though or you’ll be as stressed as you were at home!

    • Amy
      Posted at 08:21h, 13 March Reply

      It has been brilliant so far beast. We have a few rest days planned and I think we’ll need them – we go to bed exhausted every night, but it’s a good kind of exhaustion!

  • Pingback:North Island New Zealand | Pictures of Our First Week in the North Island
    Posted at 09:46h, 13 March Reply

    […] On day two we hopped straight in our rental car and headed up north to the beautiful but tiny sea-side town Paihia. On the way we got our first real taste of the famous New Zealand scenery and marvelled at the lush green forests, mountains and then the turquoise ocean as we drove along the coast. We didn’t have much time in Paihia before setting out on our Rock Boat Cruise. […]

  • Jo
    Posted at 21:06h, 19 March Reply

    Great write-up and vid. Phosphorescent plankton, snorkelling, dolphins…and you don’t have to return in a week!

    • Amy
      Posted at 22:58h, 19 March Reply

      Yep it was pretty awesome! Can’t wait for you to join us in Thailand for more adventures – I’m definitely up for some snorkling now I’ve had a taste for it, hopefully the water in Thailand will be much warmer than New Zealand though!

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    […] pinpricks. To begin with the experience was reminiscent of that first perfect night sky I saw kayaking in the Bay of Islands. Gazing up at the glowworms became stranger though; my eyes began to play tricks on me and I felt […]

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    […] a relief to finally be away from the strangeness of those final days. We launched straight into an overnight boat cruise and moved quickly from one place to the next, packing our time with activities. In hindsight this […]

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    […] Bay of Islands – the day after we arrived in New Zealand we took an overnight boat trip around the bay. After dark we kayaked out into the ocean to gaze at the stars and see the phosphorescent plankton […]

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  • Rick
    Posted at 11:26h, 10 March Reply

    That sure is a great way to explore and enjoy a beautiful place!

  • Wakooda Watersports
    Posted at 13:51h, 22 April Reply

    The place is very beautiful! And the water is inviting everyone to jump into it. Pretty sure you guys enjoyed the moment very much. Ocean and water activities are surely some of the best things in life.

    • Amy
      Posted at 21:15h, 22 April Reply

      Yes, I agree 🙂

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