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Bay of Islands

Islands of the Hauraki Gulf: Expedition Cruising the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Islands

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Explorer
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Explore remote, hidden island paradises on foot, kayak, and on the luxurious expedition vessel Heritage Explorer as you sail through the Hauraki Gulf Islands. Take in lectures, learn about life above and below the water, and pick up pro tips during a photography masterclass led by one of New Zealand Geographic's award-winning photographers as you delve into the region's early history, visit island sanctuaries, and learn about the region's conservation success stories. The Hauraki Gulf spans 1.2 million hectares of scenic, glittering ocean, five marine reserves, and more than 50 islands between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula. It is a veritable aquatic wonderland, claiming some of the country's most beautiful beaches and hidden coves ideal for kayak exploration.
Kaitoke BeachWhangaroa HarbourBay of IslandsBay of IslandsBay of Islands
Highlights
  • Explore the world renowned Tiritiri Matangi Island.
  • Visit spectacular towering cliffs meet white surf beaches in Great Barrier Island.
  • Sail over to the archipelago of Mokohinau Islands.
  • Discover the beautifully protected cove at Whangamumu Harbour.
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Auckland | Embark

Join Heritage Explorer, your home away from home, in Auckland this afternoon where your Captain and Expedition Leader and Kennedy Warne will be waiting to welcome you on board (times will be confirmed with your voyage documents). When all are aboard, we will set sail from Auckland through the Hauraki Gulf to our anchorage for the night as our adventure begins.

Day 2: Tiritiri Matangi & Great Barrier Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Plan to rise early this morning for a landing on the world renowned Tiritiri Matangi Island – one of the country’s most successful conservation projects. Once completely cleared of forest, the island has been revegetated and rejuvenated thanks the tireless efforts of volunteers planting around 300,000 native trees between 1984 and 1994. Now home to 11 species of threatened native birds in addition to more common species, be on the lookout for Saddleback, Kokako, Stitchbird, Brown Teal and Takahe among others. During lunch we cross the Hauraki Gulf sailing towards Great Barrier Island, during this time guests will benefit from being out on the deck as whales and dolphins are regularly seen in these waters. Arriving at Great Barrier Island Heritage Explorer will navigate to the sheltered waters of Port Fitzroy where there will be time to take the kayaks for a paddle, head ashore by Zodiac or perhaps even spend some time fishing with the Captain.

Day 3: Great Barrier Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today we have a full day dedicated to exploring Great Barrier Island. Existing entirely off grid through solar power and rainwater collection, 60 per cent of the island’s 285 kilometers is public land managed by the Department of Conservation where spectacular towering cliffs meet white surf beaches, wetlands, fiords and bays home to Spotless Crake, Fernbird, Brown Teal, Banded Rail, North Island Kaka and more than 13 species of lizard including the Chevron Skink. For the more active there are forest walks to explore, while those preferring to stay on, or near, the water there is the opportunity to take out the kayaks or join a Zodiac safari. If conditions are favorable, there may be an opportunity to visit Arid Island – one of the most beautiful, remote and rarely visited outer islands in the Gulf.

Day 4: Mokohinau, Poor Knights & Whangaruru

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
An exploration of the outer islands of the Hauraki Gulf starts early this morning as we sail over to the archipelago of predator free Mokohinau Islands. The size of these tiny islands and outcrops, positioned uniquely at the edge of the continental shelf, belie their importance as a refuge for some of New Zealand’s most endangered species found nowhere else on the planet. Continuing northwards there is the option to set our course, depending on the prevailing conditions, to the Poor Knights Islands. These islands have been vitally important in the story of New Zealand conservation and we will delve into this history today as well as marvel at the abundance of life both above and below the water on these remarkable island outposts.

Day 5: Whangamumu Harbour & Cape Brett

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning we plan to visit the old whaling station at Whangamumu Harbour, this beautifully protected cove to the south of the Bay of Islands hides a dark past as the site of one of the earliest European whaling bases in New Zealand. The only whaling station in the world which caught whales with nets, Whangamumu was Northland’s longest running and most successful whaling station operating from the 1800s to early 1900s. The beautiful scenery continues as Heritage Explorer sails northwards past spectacular Cape Brett and the iconic Hole in the Rock at Piercy Island. The more adventurous on board may wish to take the opportunity to walk some of the Cape Brett Lighthouse Walk, the exertion rewarded by stunning coastal scenery.

Day 6: Whangaroa Harbour & Cavalli Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Wake this morning to the breath-catching scenery of Whangaroa Harbour. North of the Bay of Islands, this dramatic harbor is defined by both its narrow entrance, gravity defying volcanic spires, sheltered bays and tranquil sandy beaches. Head out on the water and explore by kayak or Zodiac, or head ashore and enjoy a morning hike to one of the vantage points that provide epic panoramas over these unforgettable surrounds. We then sail to the Cavalli Islands where there is the opportunity to explore nature reserve and diving hotspot Motukawanui Island. Swimming and snorkeling opportunities abound, explore powdery white sand beaches or tackle the Island track along the ridge of the island where spectacular views over the forest-clad coastline and scattered islands await.

Day 7: Bay of Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
We have the whole day set aside to explore and enjoy the Bay of Islands. Opportunities include exploring predator free Urupukapuka Island fringed by Pohutukawa forest, where Project Island Song has successfully released North Island Robin, Saddleback and Whitehead, and the dramatic, unrestrained beauty of Roberton Island which is also rich in New Zealand history. Later in the day there is an opportunity to explore historic Russell, a town of New Zealand firsts including first seaport, European settlement, capital and licensed hotel. Perhaps enjoy a drink at the iconic The Duke of Marlborough and brace yourself for one of Russell’s famed sunsets.

Day 8: Paihia | Disembark | Auckland

  • 1 Breakfast
Following breakfast and final farewells, we head ashore at Paihia where there is the opportunity for you to stay and spend some additional time or join our complimentary shuttle transfer to Auckland. We expect to arrive in central Auckland around 12 noon this afternoon.

Ship/Hotel

Heritage Explorer

Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer
Heritage Explorer

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$3,955
Heritage Explorer Buller's cabin
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Buller's
Located on the Lower Deck, the Buller's cabin features one bunk (one upper and one lower berth), ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.
Heritage Explorer Salvin's cabin
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Salvin's
Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin’s Double cabins feature a double bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a picture porthole.
Heritage Explorer Wandering cabin
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Wandering
Located on the Lower Deck, Wandering cabins feature one lower single berth, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.
Heritage Explorer Royal cabin
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Royal
Located on the Bridge Deck, our Master Suite features a spacious bedroom with a queen-sized bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, mirror and washbasin, private en suite, personal climate control, TV, PABX satellite telephone, window and French doors opening out on to the covered Bridge Deck.

Notes

Includes:
Landing fees, pre or post coach transfers, all on board ship accommodation with meals and all shore excursions and activities. GST, house drinks and expert on board naturalist guides. Pricing per person in NZ$.

Excludes:
All items of a personal nature, laundry, domestic flights, extensions and travel insurance.
Included
  • 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Complimentary Parka 
  • Pre- & Post- Cruise Transfers
     
  • Complimentary boot rental is available. However, due to the limited supply of boots available aboard the ship, it is recommended that you bring your own rubber boots for best fit and availability. Youth size boots are not available.
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Required Visas if applicable
  • Discovery Fund / Government Landing Fees 

Map

When to Go

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Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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This was our first trip to South America and we were a little nervous. But Adventure Life made things so easy! All our questions were answered before we left, and our guide, Vidal, was amazing! He gave us enough space to explore without rushing us along. He also knew where the best picture taking opportunities were, which was great.
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