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Leave Auckland this morning, travelling north over the Harbour Bridge past the sprawling suburbs of the city's North Shore. Your scenic drive continues through Northland's lush farmland before arriving in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Explore the place where Māori and British culture merged in the 18th century and see the beauty that lies within a network of 144 islands which dot the bay with their beautiful golden beaches. Wake up the sound of gentle waves, a cool sea breeze and the smell of the ocean over the next few days. But for now, the soul-stirring views never end as you cruise through game-fishing waters to Cape Brett and, weather permitting, through the famous 'Hole in the Rock' and into New Zealand's largest sea cave. Your return cruise to Paihia slices through the turquoise waters of the bay. Pass deserted beaches and secluded bays while you keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals and penguins which find sanctuary in this pristine tropical setting. Stay overnight in the jewel of the Bay of Islands, renowned for its secluded bays, mild weather and warm café culture. This evening, gather with your Travel Director and travelling companions for a Welcome Reception and dinner.
Indulge in a free day to soak up the enchanting beauty of the Bay of Islands. The allure of the great outdoors and array of experiences will be impossible to resist, and you'll want to skip a leisurely start to your day and head out on your own adventure. Consider an Optional Experience on the water, whipping through the waves on board a historic tall ship where you can play Captain James Cook for the day and sail amidst the deep blue waters he once did in his 'discovery' of New Zealand over 250 years ago. Savour the bold flavours of the region's full-bodied reds when you embark on a memorable wine tasting tour with stunning coastal views. You could consider instead a Russell Mini Tour to learn about the area's historical significance, taking a walk back in time to discover its wild ways as a noisy port town refuelling ships. Evidence of its colourful heritage can be seen in the historic buildings that remain to this day. You'll explore two centuries of what was once regarded as the "Hell Hole of the Pacific" and has today emerged as an idyllic tourism hotspot - how times have changed! After an action-packed day, you'll enjoy an evening at leisure to spend as you wish. Make the most of your stay and head to one of the restaurants along the waterfront, watching as the sun sets on yet another glorious day in New Zealand.
There's no need to rush this morning. You can get your final fix of paradise before returning to Auckland. Take a stroll on the beach to set the right tone for your day and enjoy a leisurely coffee watching this serene seaside haven come to life. Our scenic journey south stops in Whangarei, the northernmost city in New Zealand, where there's time to admire local art and stroll along the marina in the Town Basin. Learn about the stories and legends of the people of the land, their special connection to nature and how they once ruled Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud. Continue to Parry Kauri Park where you'll embark on a memorable walk among the ancient Kauri giants, which have towered over the forest floor for millennia. Connect with nature and learn heavy logging over the centuries has considerably reduced the numbers of trees that remain to this day. Later this afternoon, you'll arrive in Auckland, where your memorable encounter with New Zealand's Bay of Islands comes to an end.