Approximately two hours from Auckland, New Zealand's Bay of Islands is a pristine paradise where ocean, wildlife and clear seas meet a charming slice of history. Challenge yourself to visit all 144 virtually untouched islands or simply relish in the rich culture that surrounds the Bay’s close-knit communities.
From the comfort of the beach cafes in the old town of Russell, visitors can often spot the Bay's orcas, penguins and bottlenose dolphins frolicking close to shore. To get up close and personal, join the crew at The Rock Adventure Cruise. A day on the water will cover original European and Maori settlements, white sandy beaches and, of course, plenty of wildlife playing in your boat's slipstream.
Families looking to channel some early settler spirit will get a kick out of the R Tucker Thompson Tall Ship, a working replica gaff-rigged schooner helmed by Captain Rob. Lucky travellers might even get a chance to view some of the islands from the top of the mast. Land lovers will enjoy simply strolling through Russell, a charming township that’s home to cafes, gift shops and historic architecture.
Eat and Drink
Set in a stunning sub-tropical garden, Food At Wharepuke is a relaxed spot for all day dining. Grab a table beneath the trees and settle in for Thai-influenced fare that's totally ocean-to-table. Wine enthusiasts will do well to pay a visit to Marsden Estate Winery, taste-testing its award-winning Pinos Gris and Chardonnay in one of KeriKeri's best-kept gardens.
Favoured by Hollywood royalty, Eagles Nest is comprised of five contemporary villas, each with soaring views overlooking the entire bay. With private chefs, infinity pool and chauffeur service in and out of nearby Russell, it's the ultimate hideaway. Those searching for a sea-view with a more down-to-earth rate will enjoy the Commodores Lodge. Located right on the Russell foreshore, rooms boast stunning waterfront views and the whole town right on the doorstep.