|Sailed into the Bay of Islands, the northermost part of New Zealand. Being the northmost means it the warmest and subtropical. The Bay is beautiful and dotted with islands. At various times we were told there were 144 (as counted by Captain Cook in 1769), 80 (big and high enough to support vegetation) by our jet boat guide and 150 in the Russell museum video. The area was the original capital of New Zealand and an active port of whalers, traders and of course the Maori.
Bay of Islands does not have a cruise ship pier and the bay is very spread out, so we actually ended up tendering and landing at 3 different docks of the course of the day. Check out the welcome mat to our first dock for the jet boat. Very different greeting than the Pacific islands. Bags were search for banned food, plants and animals. Id was checked and double checked to government issued ID, not just our room card.
We started out with a jet boat ride to several of the islands. First were a series of black cliffs jutting out of the water with birds nesting atop and mussels growing on the sides. You are allowed to harvest the mussels, but you can’t step on the islands. Next we went into a sea cave and sloshed around like a washing machine is the waves crash in and then out. Third we landed on Motuarohia island that Captain Cook anchored at. There was a nice crescent beach and a trail to the top of the mountain where you could see the 144 islands Cook counted. The vegetation in Bay of Islands is different from the Polynesian Islands, with larger trees and different flowers and bushes. There were lot of birds calling as we climbed up the stairs to the peak. Felt like a scene from middle earth.
After lunch we went to Russell and walked along water front, went to the Russell museum and listened to the docent at the Christ Church. The church has bullet holes in it from a battle between the Maori and British in the 1800 when the Maori got mad that the new British commander had moved the capital to Auckland resulting in less boat traffic and less port tax revenue to the Maori. The British won when they pounded the Maori with cannon fire.
Overall, day was beautiful and once again we dodged the rain showers but did catch site of another rainbow!