Our route to “ the winterless north “ takes us past the Westhaven Marina and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, with it’s commanding views over the city and Waitamata Harbour.
Highway One north continues beside native and man made forest, over hilly terrain with great views of rolling countryside and sea vistas. We call into Kauri Parry Park, to view a fine example of a 600 year old Kauri tree. On through various small settlements, stopping for a coffee/tea break at the Brynderwyn Hills. From the 450m summit, Bream Bay and the Hen & Chicken Island’s panorama greets us. Continue through Northland’s only city Whangarei, before arriving at the small settlement of Opua, New Zealand’s most northern port of entry for overseas vessels and a popular destination for cruising Yachts. We take a short vehicular ferry across to Okiato, formally Old Russell, site of NZ’s first make shift capital and then it’s just a short drive to present day historic Russell to arrive in The Bay of Islands.
Formally Kororareka, a long established Maori settlement before Captain Cook’s visit in 1769 and later a provisioning port for South Sea whalers from the early 1800’s, present day Russell has a turbulent history. Our tour takes us along the Promenade with it’s many interesting historic buildings, Flagstaff Hill, Long Beach and Queen’s View. We’ll visit Christ Church, the oldest existing church in NZ - 1836 complete with musket holes, while the gravestones make for interesting reading. Russell Museum is well worth a visit and included, before having lunch.
Now it’s time to board your Fuller’s three hour Cruise out through the numerous island’s that make up the bay (144 in total), to Motu Kōkako or Piercy Island, most commonly known as Hole in The Rock. Weather and sea conditions permitting, your captain will skillfully guide the boat through this 18 meter naturally formed cavern. Dolphins are common, plus other marine life and even the occasional whale can be spotted while cruising. Upon your return to Russell, we head straight back to Auckland.
Following the same route north, we turn off to the west at the foot of the Brynderwyn Hills.
Situated in the rural backdrop of Matakohe, the museum tells the story of how the early pioneer settlers worked the kauri timber and it’s gum. The museum has the world’s largest collection of kauri gum and kauri timber furniture, a model 1900’s kauri house, a working mock up steam sawmill and many more exhibits. Your morning tea break is taken here.
Leaving Matakohe, we back track a little, turning north east through back country farmland, joining up with Highway 1 south of Whangarei. We arrive at Paihia in the Bay of Island’s to have lunch, before embarking on your Fuller’s three hour cruise out through the numerous 144 island’s to Cape Brett and the Hole in The Rock.
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