So apparently Cyclone Debbie, or at least what's left of her, has arrived in New Zealand which is bad for us but could be worse as Northland is one of the least effected areas (guess that's the silver lining...).
Anyway, we were un-deterred and checked out of our motel at about 8am then went down to Pier 5 to catch our Discover the Bay cruise which left at 9am. Initially the day didn't seem too bad with no rain and just a lot of cloud cover but it started raining and then as we boarded the boat the skipper told us "no Hole in the Rock today, weather's too bad" which was disappointing because that was the entire reason we booked the tour.
Nevertheless, we cruised across to Russell and picked up a few more people and then had a look at some of the 144 islands that make up the Bay of Islands. A couple of them are privately owned and have huge holiday homes on them, one even has a helipad and fully lighted tunnel through the middle of the island. A caretaker lives on the island and looks after it while the owners aren't there. The ferries deliver supplies so as Garry our skipper said: "no need to go to town." Some of the islands are also partially privately owned and even have sheep on them.
The rain stopped and started and we even had a few tiny patches of blue sky make some brief appearances. We also saw some gannets and shearwaters. We stopped at Urupukapuka Island for a BBQ and on the short dash from boat to café managed to get soaked. Luckily, I had my trusty dry bag to keep my camera safe.
We had salad, roast potatoes, sausages and steak for lunch. There were a few walking tracks but we didn't do any of them as it was likely to rain again and the mist and fog made it hard to see much anyway. We saw a tui, four oystercatchers and some sort of plover on the beach.
Once back on the boat we headed back to Paihia. We were given vouchers for a free tour as we didn't see any dolphins (and we were supposed to). They last for life so next time we're in NZ we might still be able to make it to the Hole in the Rock! The crew told us that the oldest voucher ever redeemed was 16 years old!
As soon as we docked we jumped in the car and headed for Kaitaia. It poured down pretty much the whole 100km so we didn't bother stopping off anywhere. Checked into our motel around 3pm. After a quick spell, we headed off to have a look around town and came across a Hunting and Fishing store so we stopped in for a look.
Next, we went to the visitor’s centre and had a look at the local museum. Hoping for better weather tomorrow but it's not looking good. Either way we're heading as far north as you can go, Cape Reinga!