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Kevin G United States of ...
We really had a great time on this tour. The only thing I would change about it is having less people on the boat. Even though there were seats inside, you really want to be sitting on the top outside deck to catch all of the amazing views. On our way out to the Hole in the Rock, we went along Tapeka Point, Parekura Bay and then Deep Water Cove. Once we went thru the Hole, the captain got word from another ship about dolphin sightings. So we started heading that way and actually saw a pod of common dolphins. The captain and crew were very informative, helpful and just plain happy to assist with anything.
After seeing the dolphins, we went to Waewaetorea, Motukiekie, and stopped in Otehei Bay. Since we diverted to see dolphins, that limited our time in Otehei Bay. There were various walking tracks and if you went to the top, you had unbelievable 360 degree views. There were also free roaming sheep along some of the tracks. Once we were back in Russell Wharf, which was only a ferry ride away from Paihia where we needed to be for our cruise ship, we walked around to some of the shops, restaurants, etc. There is a free ferry ticket included in the tour so this allows you to spend some time in Russell.
We had lunch at a local favorite, the Crusty Crab, and had the fish and chips...the fish was amazing! Then we stopped off for some beers at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel. I would highly recommend this tour b/c you see some amazing sights.
We really enjoyed most of the sites and events. The only negative was too much time spent on bus rides..
The experience was not as good as I hoped due to the captain not being able to take us to the Hole because of sea conditions. The remainder of the cruise was very good but space around the outside was limited for seeing the dolphins - you had to be quick, though I did get many glimpses of the magnificent creatures. Sadly, none of the other possible species made themselves known. The island stopover was briefer than anticipated as we had to wait for another boat to vacate the dock, so there was really just enough time to reach one viewing point and return.
One point that needs to be addressed by Viator was that the operator of the cruise Fuller's Great Sights was mentioned nowhere on the ticket or confirmation. There are two common operators, so it wasn't clear. Fortunately, we had time the day before to find out the correct operator and boarding point. But be aware that this cruise is by the Great Sights brand of Fullers.
An amazing experience. It's costly, sure, but well worth it. The area is beautiful and to get a chance to see it from above is too good to miss. The pilot provided an interesting commentary on the history and landmarks there and back to the hole in the rock, and even pointed out a huge shoal of fish for us. There are plenty of photo opportunities so make sure your batteries are charged up- you won't want to miss a moment of this magical trip.
Our family thoroughly enjoyed this action packed holiday and especially recommend it to those who have a limited time to see highlights of the North Island. We were so impressed by the exquisite scenery, the kindness of the countrys people and the richness of the Maori culture. Our only issue with the 5-day tour was that we would have preferred more detail about our itinerary and how to coordinate with the tour operators. Although Viator organised the bus transportation, hotel accommodations, and individual tours, we were left to coordinate when/where for pickups etc. for tours and transportation to the next locations.
We arrived in Waitangi on a cruise ship and then caught a shuttle bus to the small town of Paihia, where we boarded the boat for a tour of the bay. It was a lovely day and the view across the bay to all the islands was stunning. We first of all stopped at another seaside village called Russell Kororareka before sailing out to the Hole in the Rock on the island of Motukokako. The female skipper and crew were very informative and very professional. She very skillfully sailed through the Hole as the boat narrowly passed through, particularly with the swell of the ocean. Excellent trip, well worth doing, highly recommend this tour.
On the way back we stopped off at Otehei Bay on the island of Urupukapuka and walked up to a high point with amazing views in all directions across the Bay of Islands. We arrived back in Paihia at 1pm and after a brief walk round the town we caught the bus and tender back to the ship. It was a very enjoyable day and well worth doing the boat trip.
Craig E Australia
We enjoyed a comfortable catamaran trip out to the Hole in the Rock which was awesome to go through. On our way to the rock and on our way back to Paihia we were fortunate to see quite a few dolphins, which was amazing. We also got to stop off at Urupukapuka Island where we decided to take the short climb to the top of the hill for beautiful views of the Bay of Islands. Was a great overall experience!!
Excellent tour from start to finish. Commentry and the guide were superb and we saw plenty of dolphins and went throug the Hole in the Rock. The stop off at Otehi Bay ideal.
The crew were great. They looked after us really well and the captain gave an excellent commentary on all the sights we saw. Two highlights were actually traveling through the Hole in the Rock after the captain made sure it was safe to do so, and stopping off on one of the islands in the bay that had a short but strenuous walk to the top of a hill with 360 degree views around the bay. There were a lot of tourists on our trip so there were limited spaces on deck to get the best views, but otherwise it was great.
amazing place and amazing day...the only thing that tainted a perfect day is the lady from the office who was on board....she made some culturally insensitive comments about the history of the islands and really needs to learn a more accurate NZ history.
Doing what: Bay of Islands Cruise and Scenic Helicopter Tour
Overall the tour was good. The guides were knowledgeable, friendly and informative. Waitangi treaty grounds tour was rushed and at times the guides commentary was too fast. The Intercity bus trip from Auckland to Roturua had lots of stops and the driver was somewhat rude. After the conclusion of Hobitton tour - wait for the bus back to Auckland was the most disappointing. It was a open shelter - extremely windy, cold and there was heavy downpour while waiting for the delayed bus. We were dropped off without much info other than your connection will be here shortly. Calls to your tour center was also unhelpful. For the tour costs paid for a Superioir Gold package the shortcomings were extremely disappointing.
We recommend package tours like these because it saves you the trouble of driving out to remote locations and arranging the boats on your own.
About the tour: The driver was absolutely amazing! The boat portion of the tour was slightly crowded, so it was difficult to secure great outdoor seats. Besides the actual Hole in the Rock, parts of the cape tour were a bit slow -- it was mostly waiting around to get to the good parts. However, the boat crew were complete pros!
As with any outdoor tour in NZ, you need to remember that visibility is VERY dependent on the weather. Be sure to bring rain gear and expect cool temps, even in summer.
Warning, this 5 day tour consists of a lot of riding in tour bus, so much of the enjoyment depends on who you have as a bus driver or tour guide that day. The first 2 days of the tour was very good going north of Auckland to Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga. The 3rd day of tour was not enjoyable as it is just a whole day spent riding in 2 separate buses to Rotorua. The 4th day was good going to Waitomo Caves and Mauri village for dinner/show. The 5th day is pretty packed. For us, the tour operator screwed up and did not book our tour on the 5th day, so we were stuck in the hotel waiting all morning. This really bummed us out as we were looking forward to the fully packed 5th day activities, and we were very concerned about being able to get from Rotorua back to Auckland to catch our flight back to US the following day. It took a few hours of waiting for tour operator to get their act together and we eventually got rebooked for the 5th day afternoon tour to Hobbiton, but the mistake by the tour operator really tainted our experience. To make the experience worse, when we were offered the refund for their mistake a couple of week later, the refund came in ridiculously low. I had to contact Viator a couple of times before Viator offered a fair refund amount we asked for 20 back as 1 in 5 days was ruined.
What I learned:
1. Make sure that the tour operator book you for all 5 days reconfirm with tour operator if possible this can get difficult as you are on the move during the tour, so try to reconfirm before tour begins.
2. Viator seems like a reliable company as it did ultimately offer a fair refund, but only after I contacted them a couple of times.
3. New Zealand is a beautiful country with natural and cultural wonders.
Wonderful experiences everywhere we went. Definitely worth the price. The crew were very friendly and punctual. Would recommend it to anyone.
Excellent way to view the bay of islands. Staff were very friendly and professional, went out of their way to ensure we had a great experience.
Even though the weather was not great, this was an excellent afternoon on a very comfortable boat and many great photografic opportunities of both wildlife and landscapes.
In theory, the tours were great- but.. After pick up from our hotel, we were instructed to walk up three blocks with our luggage to meet our connecting bus as it's faster. We assumed the pick up time would be reliant upon us getting transported the whole way despite saving time for the driver. Our driver had no idea who was looking after our itinerary after we arrived. Finally his company called another company and found that they were responsible for the next two days. Eventually our luggage was delivered to our hotel but they delivered the wrong bags.
Doing what: 3-Day Bay of Islands Trip from Auckland
I loved all the things we got to see and do. The only fall back is that most tours and trips did not come with food (which is fine) and did not leave enough time to get your own and started before hotel breakfast was available
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