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Coming towards the end of summer, a friend recently suggested we take the Explore NZ vessel out to Urupukapuka Island and spend a day exploring the wonderful walks out there. We waited for a perfect weather day, and jumped on the 9.00am Hole in the Rock Cruise – bonus being we got to get out to the Hole in the Rock, and play with the dolphins in Oke Bay along the way. We arrived at the island at 11.30am and then set off on our adventure.
We took the track towards Urupukapuka Bay from the starting point at Otehi Bay. From the minute you get to the top of the first hill the views are breathtaking. You can understand why this area is so popular for campers throughout the summer months. The first bay has the backdrop of the Albert Channel and Rawhiti in the background and you are also looking straight out towards Cape Brett. We climbed the next ridge line towards the eastern seaward side of the island. Quite a steady steep climb, but worth it because once you get there the views are fabulous. This side of the island is the weather beaten side, with narly rocks leading down to deep emerald green water below edged with white as the swell crashes onto the exposed side of the island.
It took us just under an hour to walk from Otehi Bay to far end of the island at the beginning of the Cliff Pa loop. As we approached the junction of the Pateke & Cliff Pa Loops we were rewarded with the most incredible views back towards the Kerikeri Inlet, Waitangi and Russell overlooking the islands of Motorua and Roberton from a really elevated position. The wonderful jewel colours of the waters of the Bay of Islands were spectacular on such a beautiful day.
The trail then meanders down into Indico Bay. Walking along the beach here, we were the only people there – a total treat. We then climbed back up onto the next ridge and down into one of my favourite beaches in the Bay of Islands – Paradise Bay. The trail from beginning of the Cliff Pa loop to Paradise Bay took us about 40-45 minutes. Again, Paradise Bay was totally deserted. There were a few yachts anchored out in the bay, but we were the only two on the beach. We decided this was the perfect spot to stop for lunch where we enjoyed a break for about 45 minutes whilst we rested and re-energised for the rest of the walk.
The climb out of Paradise Bay is fairly steep with a switch back type of trail that eventually brings you back to join the Urupukapuka Bay loop trail. As we were ahead of the time we expected the round the island walk would take, we decided to explore the Cable Bay Loop and down into the most idyllic small bay with a lovely grassy area well set up again for camping. Up and over a couple more ridges again with more breathtaking views, we headed down into Otehi Bay via the woolshed route with an hour to spare before our boat departed back to Paihia at 4.30pm.
Urupukapuka Island is one of the best day’s walking I have done for a long time. Nothing too challenging, but enough to get the heart rate up on the climbs and well rewarded with incredible vistas of our back yard – the beautiful Bay of Islands.
From October – early April this day adventure is possible with ExploreNZ when both their morning and afternoon Hole in the Rock Cruises stop at Otehi Bay.