Boat Trips and Ferries
Throughout New Zealand are a multitude of options for exploring the nation’s coast, rivers and lakes. A visit to Auckland, for instance, is hardly complete without taking to the water to see the Hauraki Gulf Islands. From downtown Auckland, ferries run regularly to lovely Waiheke Island, with its vineyards, galleries and beaches, and boat transfers are also readily available for day trips to Rangitoto, Kawau and Tiritiri Matangi. A quick ferry trip across the harbour to the North Shore suburb of Devonport makes a very budget-friendly boat trip and a great way to see the lights of New Zealand’s largest city at dusk. Dinner cruises, whale- or dolphin-watching expeditions are other options for getting out on the water in Auckland.
Elsewhere in New Zealand, the Bay of Islands is a hugely popular boating region. Again, ferry transfers from Paihia to Russell offer great-value cruising, but island tours, high-speed trips to the “Hole in the Rock”, dinner cruises, fishing charters, swimming with dolphins and adventures paddling traditional Maori waka are all possibilities. Marlborough is a popular boating region, as are Bay of Plenty and The Coromandel, and the lakes of Taupo, Rotorua, Wanaka and Queenstown are dotted with pleasure boats in summer. Any visit to Fiordland should include a cruise on the famous fiords, whether it’s a short sightseeing trip, eco-tour or overnight cruise.
Sailing is another traditional Kiwi pastime – there’s a good reason why Auckland is referred to as the City of Sails. You can even book an experience on an actual America’s Cup yacht. You can also experience premium sailing adventures in the Bay of Islands or Marlborough.
Do you prefer the flexibility of chartering a boat and skipper? Charter boats are freely available in harbour settlements around the country, such as Northland, Auckland, The Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Marlborough. Salt water fishing charters are always a popular option. But charter vessels can also offer a relaxing and indulgent private tour of New Zealand’s coastal jewels – some overnight tours come complete with comfortable accommodation and fine dining with the services of an on-board chef.
With several very different ports within an overnight journey, and a spectacular array of coastal scenery to discover, cruising is an ideal way to see the country. The main cruise season is during summer, October to April, with most New Zealand cruises departing from Sydney, Australia, or Auckland. Cruise ships typically sail south along the east coast of New Zealand, stopping at the major ports of Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Lyttelton (Christchurch), Port Chalmers (Dunedin), and around the southern coast of the South Island to Fiordland. Longer cruises may visit the Bay of Islands, Gisborne, Picton, Akaroa or Stewart Island. Contact Cruise New Zealand for more information. [www.cruisenewzealand.org.nz]