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The Rock Overnight Cruise
The Bay of Islands. If you’ve heard of it, visited it before, or peeked into the Lonely Planet then no doubt your mind is filled with images of dolphins, beaches, fishing, blue skies and stunning scenery. And now YHA New Zealand has a hostel floating out amongst the 144 islands.
The Rock, run by Sarah and Jonny Greener, has been operating and perfecting its trip in The Bay for almost 10 years and during this time we changed things around, perfected the boat, listened to travellers, and think we’ve now finally got it just right. The Rock Overnight Cruise is a purpose built vessel, converted to cruise the calm waters of the Bay of Islands for 22 hours, and can cater for up to 36 guests.
Meet us on the Paihia Wharf and step onto our tender for a short dash from the wharf to The Rock. Jonny (skipper and owner) will give you a brief run-down of where you are and what to expect from the trip before we tie up on The Rock. The music will be playing and the kettles will be boiling. Help yourself to a cup of tea and chat to our great crew or other guests whilst Sarah (Jonny’s wife and the real boss!) will show you to your room.
We’ll give you a brief rundown of the itinerary and start cruising as soon as we can. This is when it all begins. Shoot it out at our Australian plastic duck Matilda (don’t feel bad for her, she’s a convict duck!) for bragging rights and free drinks. We’ll have the fishing lines out too, so if you’re a newbie to fishing you can haul us in something for dinner or some fresh sashimi for lunch tomorrow.
For the next couple of hours we’ll cruise The Bay and find the perfect spot for a calm anchorage. Then the fishing begins in earnest. We’ll target snapper feeding on the bottom, but there’s been plenty of occasions where the odd Stingray, John Dory or Octopus has appeared from the briny deep! We’ll expertly wrap and season the Snapper to keep the fine sausages and Scotch Fillet steak company on the BBQ! (Remember we only get to have fish if you catch it.)
After dinner, we’ll grab some kayaks and a guide and head out to see the glowing Phosphorescence in the water. It’s a mouthful to pronounce and we’ll buy you a beer if you can say it quickly three times, but let’s just say that it’s like glowing fireworks in the water! Once back onboard, warm yourself up by our on-board log fire or just sit and relax at the bar whilst sipping a few well-earned drinks! For the brave, or crazy depending on which way you look at it, feel free to jump into the water for a spot of night swimming.
For the early-birds, sunrise is a beautiful spectacle from the boat. All rooms open directly onto an outer balcony and all have sea views. For those who enjoy their time wrapped up in bed, we’ll ring the breakfast bell at a more respectable hour! Stock up on porridge, various cereals, muesli and fruit. You’ll need it today!
Snorkelling is the first order of the day after a cruise to take a peek at some of the outer islands of The Bay. Grab yourself a mask, snorkel and fins before jumping off and exploring New Zealand’s sub-tropical waters. The crew will help you to hand feed fish with mussels and sea urchins whilst pointing out different creatures, and if you’re keen, you can seize your own pair of gloves and dive down to help the crew out with collecting an afternoon seafood snack.
For our last trick, we’ll pop you back into kayaks or our tender and head into one of the outer islands. Each is unique and beautiful in its own way. Spot kiwi holes and revel in the sights of the twin lagoons at Roberton Island, take a swim then kick back on the beach of Waewaetoria Island or be regaled with tales of war and piracy from Motorua Island.
We’ll return to Paihia at around 3 o’clock, though it may be a little later if we encounter some of the friendly bottlenose dolphins or tiny blue penguins of The Bay. Make sure you’ve got your camera at the ready, as these guys can be friendly to say the least!
Check the Lonely Planet, check the Rough Guide, hop on the Internet and find our website or track down somebody that’s been onboard, there’s plenty of them out there! They’ll all tell you the same thing. Come aboard The Rock, and you’ll be leaving with a smile on your face, awesome pictures on your camera and memories to last a lifetime.
For more information see our website www.rocktheboat.co.nz or give us a call on 0800 762 527