Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Paradise is the Bay of Islands

We have found paradise and it is called the Bay of Islands.

The Bay is an area of North East NZ about 250 miles north of Auckland. It is so called because within this sheltered bay (visited by Captain James Cook around 1770) lie over 140 islands, most of them uninhabited.

Imagine an idyllic bay with calm blue waters, fish, dolphins, gentle winds, birds, green fields, tall trees etc and you have the Bay of Islands. There are a number of ways to explore the Bay, fast jet boats will zoom you around in sprays of water too fast for you to see anything, large motor ferries will cram you in with a few hundred other folks for a three hour spin around the bay or you can take a slower sailing route – we joined about 25 other slower folks on the

Carino Russell

Catamaran Corina for a gentle day sailing around the bay at a maximum speed of 8 knots (which actually seemed quite fast).

Departing from the old jetty in Russell

Beach at Russell

a few other sailing boats are picking up passengers

Sailing Boat Russell 

The sails are hoisted (passengers encouraged to assist)

Proceeding under Sail

and we set sail past numerous islands

Robertson Island
Robertson Island

Moored Sailing Boat 

and past a sailing boat which seems to indicate that Captain Cook has returned


and we land on Urupukapuka Island and climb to the top for a view over the bay. When we get back to the UK, we will stitch a few photographs of the bay together to give a 270 degree view rather than this somewhat narrow picture.

Hardy Travellers

21st Century technology  being what it is, we are able to phone Ben in London from this island using our mobile and compare his cold harsh conditions in Stoke Newington with the Bay of Islands in the warm January sun. How communications have changed since we first started travelling in the 1970s when “Poste Restante” was the best thing available!

At the end of the day, the route chart shows a nice loop around the bay.

Route Out and Back

Often the boat comes across dolphins and you are encouraged to get into the water and swim with them – today (as we expected because there apparently were none the previous two days), no dolphins were found and only one “little blue penguin” but that was no worry to us


and as we sail back into Russell, we both feel that we had a great relaxing day.

Paradise is indeed the Bay of Islands


  1. Thanks for your blog - it´s a little bit like travelling with you!
    I was in NZ in 2003 and 2005 - now I heard, it´s not that easy any more to camp "everywhere" - what`s your experience on your travel? Is it necessary to have a toilet and shower on board if doing freedom camping( in 2003 and 2005 it was not). Is it still free to get fresh water at public dump stations?

    We are heading to Christchurch in March - so thanks for your first-hand-information.

    Patricia from Germany

  2. It is illegal to free camp anywhere in New Zealand unless your van is certified i.e. meets certain requirements related to a toilet, waster water storage etc. In general, free camping is getting more difficult but it is easier in the South Island than the North. Some dumps have fresh water, some do not although where they do, you need to be very careful over water hygiene.