Take a trip with me on the famous Cream Trip around the Bay of Islands. The Cream Trip got its name from the original pickup and delivery trip around the various islands in the Bay, collecting the cream and milk cans from the farmers, and delivering the mail and supplies.
NOTE: This took place in 2002. The photos are scanned in from prints so the quality could be better.
With the advent of the new fast catamaran Tangaroa III, the Cream Trip has been expanded to include most of the features of other Bay of Islands boat excursions.
Apart from calling in at some islands to deliver mail and supplies (no cream cans now), the Cream Trip passes by the 5 million-year-old Black Rocks then on out to the Ninepin Island. From there it's back across the Bay to deliver more mail and supplies before calling at Otehei Bay for lunch at the Zane Grey cafe, and maybe a ride in the Nautilus to view the fish that abound in the area.
In the afternoon the boat travels out to Cape Brett and the Hole in The Rock.
The cruise starts from Paihia. A Christian mission was established here in 1823. Nearby, in 1840, a treaty was signed between the northern Maori chiefs and the British at Waitangi, where the governorship of the country was ceded to Queen Victoria, in exchange for guarantees of Maori rights to their lands, fisheries, and forests. It is now a busy tourist town.
From here we travel across to Russell for more passengers. It is the oldest town in New Zealand and was headquarters of the South Pacific whaling fleet in the 1830's when it gained the reputation as the Hellhole of the Pacific. Russell is now a quiet historic town.
At Moturoa Island for deliveries - mail and groceries for the farmers and a biscuit each for the dogs. Three families live full time on this island running a mixed stock farm. It is connected to the mainland for electricity.
We leave here and move across the narrow channel to Day's Point (on the mainland) where the newspaper is delivered to a holiday home by flying fox.
From here we go around the other side of Moturoa Island to the Black Rocks. Here I should tell you a bit about the Tangaroa III. It is a shallow draft catamaran powered by diesel engines, total 1100 h.p. powering water-jets. No rudders or propellers under the hull. It is capable of full maneuverability in all directions. This allows the skipper to bring us very close to the rocks in complete safety. All these photos were taken with an ordinary camera, no fancy telephoto lens.
The Black Rocks are the remains of ancient lava flows. The whole Bay area was a valley in a time gone by with the sea being 5 miles away. Over the centuries, the sea has risen and invaded the valley eroding the softer soils and rocks away, leaving the hard rock of the lava flows. These rocks provide ideal nesting grounds for the seabirds that inhabit the Bay.
The skipper brings us close to the rocks for a good view.
To the right of the previous photo is this hole through the rocks.
After leaving the Black Rocks we moved across to the northern side of the Bay and cruised up the Purerua Penninsula. The native Pohutukawa trees clinging to the rock cliffs are our Christmas tree, they are covered in brilliant red flowers during December.
This is the end of the Purerua Penninsula, behind us is the Ninepin Island.
Out to the northernmost point of the Bay of Islands, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, and some of the most famous big game fishing grounds in the world. Ninepin Island, rising like a sail from the ocean.
On the ledge to the right, where the waves are crashing over, there was a mother seal and her pup. We went in so close to look at them the mother became agitated, so we had to back out and away. Later in the day around the other side of Cape Brett, we got another chance to see seals close up.
At Otehei Bay, on Urupukapuka Island, there is a camping ground and cabins for anyone to stay, along with the Zane Grey Cafe. Otehei Bay was the place that Zane Grey (famous American author) stayed when he came for the big game fishing.
Time out here to stretch your legs or go for a ride in the Nautilus.
The remaining part of the day is spent going out to Cape Brett and enjoying the amazing Hole in the Rock through Motukokako Island.
A companion cruise boat - this one is the Dolphin Discoveries cruise coming out of the Cathedral Cave. The cruise boats travel right through the hole which pierces the island.
Normally this is the furthermost point in the Cream Trip cruise before heading back to Paihia, but on this occasion, another cruise boat reported seals on the cliffs further around Cape Brett.
A little hard to see, the mother seal is on the left sunning herself, while the baby seal is on the right in the shadow. This photo was taken from the bow of the Tangaroa III without a fancy telephoto lens - that is how close we were!
A further view of the Hole in the Rock, with the Dolphin Discoveries boat going through.
And here is the Tangaroa III - Full natural wind-blown sea air on the upper decks or the bow, or the comfort of the fully air-conditioned luxury seating inside, with coffee and snacks.
This is just a taste of the wonderful time you can have in the Bay of Islands. For some information on other tours go here - https://www.dolphincruises.co.nz/