The "Bay of Islands" was how Captain Cook described this area two centuries ago and the simplicity of his name masks the diversity of its charms. The Bay of Islands is the finest Maritime Park in the country with 144 islands, secluded bays and abundance of marine life. It is one of the most popular fishing, sailing and tourist destinations in the country, and has been renowned internationally for its big-game fishing since author Zane Grey publicized it in the 1930s.
- Airlie Beach
- Kingfisher Bay (Fraser Island)
- Norfolk Island
- Penneshaw (Kangaroo Island)
- Perth (Fremantle)
- Phillip Island
- Thursday Island
- Whitsunday Island
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
PRICE is per vehicle
This exclusive arrangement is designed to allow you the chance to customize your time ashore and discover the most interesting sights in the comfort and privacy of your own vehicle. With your private car and the personalized attention of your driver and English-speaking guide, you will have the flexibility and independence to design your itinerary ashore according to your own interests and sightsee at your own pace. See the most famous sights or go beyond to create your own intimate connections and unique cultural encounters.
The Executive Collection is recommended for the single/solo traveler, couples, family, friends, and special interest groups traveling together. It can also be an excellent choice for physically challenged guests.
Capacity: 6 guests
PLEASE NOTE: Private cars/vans/minibuses are ordered per vehicle (not per person), and only one person in the party need order the vehicle. The price shown is the total cost for the vehicle, driver and English-speaking guide. Kindly note, however, that in certain ports only a driver/guide will be assigned (one person), due to limited availability. Entrance fees are not included in this price, in order to provide you with the most flexibility. In many ports, the number of vehicles available is extremely limited; therefore guests are encouraged to make their reservation as early as possible.
Half-day private tours must depart between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 am, or after 1:00 p.m.
Upon embarkation, please consult the Destination Manager onboard to personally discuss your itinerary requirements and set your departure time.
Enjoy a sumptuous lunch on a leisurely cruise through the beautiful calm waters of Bay of Islands, passing a vineyard, an oyster farm and several historical sites before reaching the port of Russell.
Your relaxing cruise begins in Waitangi, where in 1840 New Zealand's founding document between the British Crown and the Maori chieftains was signed. It's a fitting point of departure as many of the sites you'll pass in the Bay of Islands have influenced the country's history.
For instance, Okiato, also known as Old Russell, was New Zealand's seat of government before it moved to Auckland and then Wellington. Omata, once a favored destination for European immigrants, has now established itself as one of New Zealand's premier wine-growing regions. In the early 19th-century, Kororareka was the largest whaling port in the southern hemisphere and notoriously inhabited by hard-living seamen, deserters and escaped convicts.
As you cruise the coastline, savoring a traditional New Zealand lunch, you'll learn much about the area's history and how the Bay of Islands has evolved intoone of the country's most attractive destinations. Arriving in Russell, you’ll enjoy approximately one hour of free time to explore the town at leisure before the return to Waitangi.
Once known as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific,” by whalers, traders, and sealers, Russell was the original port in the North Island. Today, Russell is a picturesque waterfront village full of old homesteads, historic churches, and wooden cottages. Discover a historical town filled with meticulously restored buildings from the mid-19th century. If you stop at Christ Church, which held its first service in 1835, look for the musket ball holes left from the Battle of Kororareka.
Please note: Walking on this tour is mainly at the guests' discretion for those who elect to explore Russell. Guests will have to enter and exit the boat with limited assistance. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Casual, weather appropriate clothing to include a light jacket or sweater; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Explore the lovely inlets in the Bay of Islands during this scenic cruise aboard a touring catamaran.
Depart the pier aboard a catamaran for the cruise to the Bay of Islands. One of New Zealand's most beautiful marine areas, the Bay of Islands was made famous by English explorer James Cook and writer Zane Grey. As you journey through big-game fishing waters en route to the Cape Brett Lighthouse, you will be able to see beautiful Motukokako Island and the famous Hole-in-the-Rock from the catamaran's comfortable indoor and outdoor viewing decks. Next, you will proceed for the highlight of the tour, a trip to see the majestic Grand Cathedral Cave.
On the return voyage, some time will be spent slowly cruising among the peaceful beauty of the inner islands, where you may see schools of dolphins and other marine life. Along the way, your captain will provide you with informative commentary about the area's history and marine life.
Please note: This tour includes limited walking; however, there will be steps to enter/exit the catamaran. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the catamaran with limited assistance, and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability and those who suffer from motion sickness should take the necessary precautions prior to commencement of the tour. Weather appropriate layered clothing; sun cap; sunglasses Seeing the entrance way to Grand Cathedral Cave cannot be guaranteed due to weather and sea conditions, although every effort will be made. Sightings of marine life are not guaranteed.
Discover New Zealand's historic Maori and European influences during this scenic journey to Kerikeri and Waitangi.
Depart the Waitangi Wharf for the drive to Paihia, the commercial center of the Bay of Islands and site where one of the earliest missionary stations was established in 1823. You will then continue on to Kerikeri, where New Zealand missionaries built the first house, Kemp House, and adjacent Stone Store. Today, Kerikeri is a thriving citrus fruit growing area.
Upon returning to Waitangi, you will visit the recently-restored Waitangi Treaty House. It was here that the Maori chiefs signed over sovereignty of their lands to Queen Victoria of Great Britain in 1840. Most of the timber used to build this house, first lived in by British resident and acting Governor James Busby, was brought over from Sydney and later assembled on site.
Your tour will conclude with a stroll through the beautiful grounds of the Treaty House. Along the way, you will see the impressive Maori meeting place, or marae, and canoe, or waka. Upon reaching the lower end of the Treaty Grounds, you will be met and transferred back to the Waitangi Wharf.
Please note: This tour involves approximately 100 yards to walk to the Kemp House and Stone Store, and about 700 yards of mostly downhill walking at the Waitangi Treaty House and grounds. There are 12 steps in the Stone Store to access the 1st floor (optional). Visit of the Waitangi Treaty House is self-guided. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the transportation and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate layered clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
Experience the calm waters of the Waitangi Estuary in a unique new way during this scenic, half-day kayaking tour.
Depart the Waitangi Wharf with your kayaking guide for the walk across the Waitangi Bridge to your awaiting kayaks. After receiving your safety instructions, you will commence your kayaking tour of the beautiful Waitangi Estuary. Along the way, you will see a proliferation of mangrove trees, and their extensive root systems protruding out from beneath the water's surface. These unique trees are the lifeblood of this estuary, and a favorite breeding ground for many small fish.
At the end of the Waitangi Estuary you will reach the Haruru Falls, which are surrounded on one side by the beautiful Waitangi Forest. Although not especially high, the Haruru Falls are still a spectacular sight, especially after any recent rainfall. Light refreshments will be served at a picnic area near the falls before returning to the Waitangi Wharf.
Please note: The Waitangi Estuary is normally very calm and well protected; however, it is recommended that guests have previous kayaking experience. Strong winds can make the kayaking challenging. This tour is not available to wheelchair guests and not recommended for those with limited mobility. There are approximately 400 yards of walking from Waitangi Wharf to the kayaking center. Wear a bathing suit under shorts or a cover-up, beach shoes, a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, and bring a jacket in case the weather turns cold. Participants must be at least 10 years old and accompanied by a parent. Double kayaks are used for this tour.
This is a perfect combination of eco adventure and interactive cultural encounter. The local tribe hosts you as you all paddle together down the estuary. Learn about their history and culture, from a Maoril tribe leader.
After a short walk from the pier and briefing, you’ll board a 50-foot Maori canoe and together with your fellow cruisers, paddle into the typically tranquil waters surrounding Waitangi. The canoe, known as a “waka” in Maori, is similar to traditional ones that are carved from wide-girthed trees, which give them stability. It is believed that the Maori arrived in New Zealand nearly 1,000 years ago in large canoes after a month-long journey from Polynesia.
The exact direction of your journey will depend on the tides. If favorable, you will paddle up the Waitangi River. The banks are heavily forested, providing a home for abundant wildlife. In time, you will arrive at Haruru Falls, a place of great spiritual significance to the Maori. The name means “big noise,” a reference to the sound of the horseshoe-shaped wall of water that crashes into the river below.
If the tide prevents access to the waterfalls, you will paddle to another site that the Maori hold sacred. It’s the place where their chieftains met to discuss the terms of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. Here, you will meet members of the Ngapuchi tribe, the largest in New Zealand. Many of them are direct descendants of the chiefs who signed the treaty and will offer a unique insight into tribal life.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2 1/2 hours of moderate to strenuous paddling. Participants should be in good physical condition and must be able to enter and exit the canoe with limited assistance. Water-proof clothing or a bathing suit worn under shorts or a cover-up, sun protection and comfortable shoes that can get wet, are recommended. Participants must be at least 10 years of age.
Explore several natural wonders, including a cavern filled with glowworms and a forest of mighty kauri trees that can live 2,000 years and soar more than 150 feet into the air.
Depart the pier for a short drive inland to the Kawiti Caves, a natural wonderland of caverns owned by the descendants of the Maori chieftain Kawiti. While the caves' bizarre stalagmites and stalactites are breathtaking, the true highlight is the spectacular display of thousands of glowworms illuminating the ceiling. New Zealand's most famous fly, these glowworms belong to the gnat family and are not related to the European glowworm which is a beetle. From a distance, the glowworms' pinpoint blue-green taillights resemble a galaxy of stars in the inky blackness. You'll also notice their unusual, single-string webs hanging from the ceiling to trap small flying insects.
Continuing on, you'll drive to nearby Kawakawa, New Zealand's only town with a railroad track running down the main street. Curiously, Kawakawa is more renowned for its whimsical public restrooms. Designed by an Austrian artist in 1998, the facilities feature undulating cobblestone floors, colorful mosaics and copper handiwork.
Following some free time in Kawakawa, it's on to the Puketi Forest, which once covered most of the Bay of Islands. An unguided walk through the forest, on a boardwalk, affords you the opportunity to marvel at these imposing trees.You'll see a number of impressive kauri trees, a towering species that rivals California's redwoods in height and girth. The boardwalk allows visitors an up-close look at these magnificent trees while protecting their sensitive feeding roots.
Heading back to the pier, you'll travel through historical Kerikeri and past the Kemp House, New Zealand's oldest building, and the Stone Store, which was constructed in the 1830s by an ex-convict stonemason.
Please note: This tour includes a considerable amount of walking and 150 steps to negotiate at the caves. This tour is not available for wheel chair guests and those with walking or mobility concerns are cautioned to evaluate their personal level of ability and stamina. The tour is not recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia. Casual, weather appropriate clothing to include a light jacket or sweater, sun protection and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Photography is not permitted in the caves.