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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
*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.