Recovering from Driving Coma & Dolphin Watching

Trip Start Oct 16, 2007
Trip End May 09, 2008

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Where I stayed
Matauri Bay Holiday Park

Flag of New Zealand  ,
Monday, January 28, 2008

We were so wiped out from the long day of driving before and decided to take it easy & just do some admin stuff, pay bills, research upcoming destinations, etc.  We booked our Bay of Island dolphin cruise for the next day, and hung out at the Paihia wharf.  In the afternoon, we took the ferry over to Russell, which isn't much of a ferry ride.  It's really a tiny barge that holds only a few cars, and it takes 10 min to cross.  Russell is small, sleepy town with some charming buildings.

Next day we jumped on our tour boat, the Dolphin Seeker, for a full day in the Bay of Islands.  The boat was on the large side -- about 50 or so people were on the boat.  We chose the Kings tour because they claimed that they see dolphins 95% of the time (or get another tour free) and about 60% of the time passengers can actually swim with the dolphins.  The high success rate was mainly due to the tour being all full day long, 9:30-4:00, instead of a day tour that most other operators offered.  Within the first hour we spotted a group of dolphins, maybe 20-30 of them.  Frank got some really good pics, especially of one jumping out of the water.  We couldn't go swimming with them because they had a baby with them, but it was really cute to see the little dolphin!

Then we headed to the famous 'Hole in the Rock', which is an island that has an eroded tunnel in the middle of it.  The tour boat drove carefully through the tunnel and the captain said we had just a few meters clearance on all sides of the boat.  Anyway, we thought more impressive was actually the large school of small fish - perfect dolphin snack size - drifting in the waves on the sunny side of the island.  But no dolphins anywhere close...

Next stop was a nice little white sand beach on an uninhibited island.  They shuttled everyone with a small dingy to the beach and we snorkeled for an hour or so.  Visibility was pretty poor and there was nothing much to see.  But it was nice to swim a bit and get some exercise.

Back on the Dolphin Seeker they told us it's time for boom-netting.  On the right hand side of the boat they deployed a large boom which had a huge net attached.  People then can jump in the net, get dragged through the water while the boat slowly cruises, and swallow a lot of water.  I guess those kiwis have to come up with new and exciting things all the time.   Frank jumped in and enjoyed the ride. 

After the tour, we headed up north to Matauri Bay and stayed at the Matauri Bay Holiday Park.   It was a beautiful campground, absolute waterfront, with views of the several Cavalli islands offshore.
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