As this trip departs from the Cordis Auckland at 7.30am, accommodation will need to be pre-booked for the previous night. Leave Auckland this morning, travelling north over the Harbour Bridge past the sprawling suburbs of the city's North Shore. Your scenic drive continues through Northland's lush farmland before arriving in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Explore the place where Māori and British culture merged in the 18th century and see the beauty that lies within a network of 144 islands which dot the bay with their beautiful golden beaches. Wake up to the sound of gentle waves, a cool sea breeze and the smell of the ocean over the next few days. But for now, discover the stories, people and events that shaped the past, present and future of Aotearoa New Zealand at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. During your guided tour with a 'Local Specialist', you'll view the world's largest ceremonial war canoe, the historic Treaty House and carved Meeting House. Stand on the spot where New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed in 1840. Visit the Carving Studio, where you'll meet the carvers and learn about the Māori art of whakairo (wood carving). Then there's free time to explore Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi. Stay overnight in the jewel of the Bay of Islands, renowned for its secluded bays, mild weather and warm café culture. This evening, gather with your Travel Director and travelling companions for a Welcome Reception and dinner.
Indulge in a free day to soak up the enchanting beauty of the Bay of Islands. The allure of the great outdoors and array of experiences will be impossible to resist, and you'll want to skip a leisurely start to your day and head out on your own adventure. Consider an Optional Experience on the water, where the soul-stirring views never end as you cruise through the game-fishing waters to Cape Brett and, weather permitting, through the famous 'Hole in the Rock' and into New Zealand's largest sea cave. Your return cruise to Paihia slices through the turquoise waters of the bay. Pass deserted beaches and and secluded bays while you keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals and penguins which find sanctuary in this pristine tropical setting. Or perhaps you would prefer to savour the bold flavours of the region's full-bodied reds when you embark on a memorable wine tasting tour with stunning coastal views. You could consider instead a Russell Mini Tour to learn about the area's historical significance, taking a walk back in time to discover its wild ways as a noisy port town refuelling ships. Evidence of its colourful heritage can be seen in the historic buildings that remain to this day. You'll explore two centuries of what was once regarded as the 'Hell Hole of the Pacific' and has today emerged as an idyllic tourism hotspot - how times have changed! After an action-packed day, you'll enjoy an evening at leisure to spend as you wish. Make the most of your stay and head to one of the restaurants along the waterfront, watching as the sun sets on yet another glorious day in New Zealand.
There's no need to rush this morning. You can get your final fix of paradise before returning to Auckland. Take a stroll on the beach to set the right tone for your day and enjoy a leisurely coffee watching this serene seaside haven come to life. Our scenic journey south stops in Whangarei, the northernmost city in New Zealand, where there's time to admire local art and stroll along the marina in the Town Basin. Learn about the stories and legends of the people of the land, their special connection to nature and how they once ruled Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud. Later, enjoy a drive through the Rodney District before arriving in Auckland, where your memorable encounter with New Zealand's Bay of Islands comes to an end.