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Cruises to Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands (Photo:DmitrySerbin/Shutterstock)

About Bay of Islands

Blame 18th century explorer Captain James Cook for the understated name: Bay of Islands. He stumbled into this little piece of heaven in 1769, but perhaps his choice wasn't such a no-brainer, after all.

The bay has 144 islands that pop up as you pass through the channel to reach the tendering spot off Waitangi. These bays and inlets are actually 'drowned' valleys, and the islands are peaks of what were the highest 'hills'.

If you aren't keen on exploring the area by boat, there are many interesting sights to visit on land, including the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.


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  • 15 Night
    Cruise to Bay of Islands

    Leaving:
    Auckland
    Visiting:
    Bay of Islands, Wellington ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Windstar Cruises
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    15 Night Cruise to Bay of Islands Route (Windstar Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Auckland
    • Day 2
      Bay of Islands
    • Day 3
      Cruising
    • Day 4
      Wellington
    • Day 5
      Wellington
    • Day 6
      Christchurch
    • Day 7
      Dunedin
    • Day 8
      Stewart Island
    • Day 9
      Cruising
    • Day 10
      Cruising
    • Day 11
      Port Canaveral (Orlando)
    • Day 12
      Kaikoura
    • Day 13
      Napier
    • Day 14
      Gisborne
    • Day 15
      Tauranga
    • Day 16
      Auckland
    Ship Details

    Star Breeze - Windstar Cruises

    Pros

    Small-ship cruising, port-intensive itineraries

    Cons

    Limited entertainment and enrichment activities

    Bottom Line

    Terrific upscale yet casual cruise line for active travelers

    Reviews

    Star Breeze Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.0/5
    Cabins5.0
    Dining4.0
    Service4.0
    Value4.0

    The 212-passenger Star Breeze, which joined Windstar's fleet in May 2015, is a yacht-style smal...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    Middlesister63
    Sail Date Jan 2019
    Panama Canal-Wonderful Cruise with Friends Bucket List
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    plight0
    Sail Date Jul 2019
    Desperately ready for an overhaul
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    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

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  • 18 Night
    Cruise to Bay of Islands

    Leaving:
    Tahiti
    Visiting:
    Tahiti, Bora Bora ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
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    18 Night Cruise to Bay of Islands Route (Hapag-Lloyd Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Tahiti (Papeete)
    • Day 2
      Tahiti (Papeete)
    • Day 3
      Bora Bora
    • Day 4
      Bora Bora
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Aitutaki
    • Day 7
      Rarotonga
    • Day 8
      Cruising
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      Cruising
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      Cruising
    • Day 11
      Fiji
    • Day 12
      Dravuni Island
    • Day 14
      Cruising
    • Day 16
      Norfolk
    • Day 17
      Cruising
    • Day 18
      Bay of Islands
    • Day 19
      Auckland
    Ship Details

    Europa - Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

    Offers big-ship amenities, cosmopolitan ambience

    Comprehensive and exciting worldwide deployment

    Michelin chef Dieter Muller's outstanding restaurant

    Reviews
    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.5/5
    Cabins5.0
    Dining5.0
    Service3.0
    Value4.0

    The 28,890-ton, 408-passenger Europa, Hapag-Lloyd's upmarket flagship, primarily serves Europe'...

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    Swaraelia
    Sail Date Sep 2018
    Beautiful Scenery, Luxurious Ship
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    Catlover54
    Sail Date May 2018
    Fantastic NICE-BILBAO luxury classical music cruise, outstanding food, service!
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More about Bay of Islands

Why go to Bay of Islands?

Pros: Exquisite scenery, historical landmarks and insights into Maori culture.

Cons: Weather can be cold and windy, even in summer.

Bottom Line: Bay of Islands features some of New Zealand's most breathtaking scenery and wildlife.

Bay of Islands Cruise Port Facilities

Ship tenders drop passengers off at Waitangi Wharf, and from there it's an easy 25-minute walk to the town centre of Paihia along the scenic waterfront. Walk in the other direction for about 15 minutes -- with a few steps to climb -- to get to Waitangi Treaty House. If you choose to drive, there are a few tight and twisting turns and several one-lane bridges in the area.

Good to Know

Bay of Islands' three main towns are not large, but they are all quite different. Village-like Paihia has amenities such as banks, shops, cafes and an information centre. It's the jumping-off point for Russell, a 15-minute ferry ride away.

Historic Russell is a sleepy, relaxing, place with a stay-forever feel. Kerikeri, further north, is the largest town, with a rich cultural vein of arts and crafts (come here for pottery, art and sculptures), artisan food producers and a vineyard trail.

The Paihia i-Site Visitor Information Centre is open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seasonal hours apply for extended closing. Public holidays vary, ring the centre (0800-363-663) for opening times.

Getting Around

On Foot: It's an easy walk to Paihia and you might spot wildlife along the way.

By Taxi: Taxis are rare, but there are many other transport options

By Bus: There is a complimentary local shuttle bus, which will deliver you to Paihia in a few minutes. The Waitangi Treaty House is also included on its return loop. There's also a commercial bus to Kerikeri, the largest town in Northland, about 30 minutes' north of Paihia.

By Ferry: Three different passenger ferries service the area and crossings between Paihia to Russell depart every 20 minutes. Tickets are purchased onboard or from the booking office and the ferry crossings take about 15 minutes.

By Helicopter: For those who want the best views in the area, a helicopter is the way to go. Salt Air (0800-472-582) takes off and lands next to the Paihia I-Site Visitor Information Centre at the wharf.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The local currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), which has 10, 20 and 50 cent coins, and gold one and two dollar coins. New Zealand notes are coloured and come as $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.

ATMs can be found in Paihia and Russell, and there's a Bureau de Change at the ASB Bank in Paihia (37 Williams Rd; 09-4020-033; open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.)

Language

English is the main language spoken in New Zealand; however you will see most signs also written in Maori, which is often presented in the first instance as a mark of respect. Maori words are increasingly being used in everyday conversation. It's perfectly fine to ask the meaning of Maori words, actually it is welcomed by New Zealand's Indigenous Polynesian peoples.


Bay of Islands Cruise Reviews

Explorer Dream
Mary Faith
Sail Date: Jan 2020
The ship was anchored off Bay of Islands for several hours and we took the tender to the shore....Read More
Pacific Jewel
Mary Faith
Sail Date: Feb 2019
We went our own way and had a good time :)...Read More
Ovation of the Seas
Beatriz_Imre
Sail Date: Dec 2019
Wedding take an excursion know we just caught the free bus that took us into the city there's two little areas and that was great we just walked around did our own thing bought some beautiful locally grown cherries...Read More
Azamara Journey
flyingron
Sail Date: Feb 2020
Nice little scenic place....Read More
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