Cruising the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf

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Cruising the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf

Cruising the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf

8 day / 7 night tour Cruising the Bay of Islands and the Islands of the Hauraki Gulf 
Explore the famed islands and coastlines of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and Bay of Islands as we delve into the region’s early New Zealand history, visit island sanctuaries where native wildlife flourishes, and learn about the region’s conservation success stories and on going efforts on this 8-day expedition of Northland.

Heritage Explorer

Tour at a Glance


Buller’s Cabin: $5,775 per person  

Salvin’s  Cabin: $6,475 per person

Wondering Cabin: $6,825 per person 

Royal Suite: $7,995 per person 




Tour Dates:

7 – 14 January, 2022

14 – 21 January, 2022

12 – 19 March, 2022

Fitness Level

Able to climb up and down stairs.

Flexibility to get in and out of Zodiacs.


Maximum Guests on Board

18 guests 


– Pre or Post Cruise Coach Transfer
– All meals & house drinks on board the ship
– Expedition shore excursions
– Landing Fees
– Services of your knowledgeable Captain and expedition team


• Domestic airfares
• Travel Insurance
• Add on Premium Drinks Option ($200 pp)

Tour Itinerary

For full details please request a Free Information Pack (Form to the right)

Day 1Auckland

Join Heritage Explorer, your home away from home, in Auckland this afternoon where your Captain and Expedition Leader will be waiting to welcome you on board (times will be confirmed with your voyage documents). When all are aboard, we will set sail from Auckland through the Hauraki Gulf to our anchorage for the night as our adventure begins.

Day 2 Tiritiri Matangi - Great Barrier Islands

Plan to rise early this morning for a landing on the world renowned Tiritiri Matangi Island – one of the country’s most successful conservation projects. Once completely cleared of forest, the island has been revegetated and rejuvenated thanks the tireless efforts of volunteers planting around 300,000 native trees between 1984 and 1994. Now home to 11 species of threatened native birds in addition to more common species, be on the lookout for Saddleback, Kokako, Stitchbird, Brown Teal and Takahe among others. During lunch we cross the Hauraki Gulf sailing towards Great Barrier Island, during this time guests will benefit from being out on the deck as whales and dolphins are regularly seen in these waters. Arriving at Great Barrier Island Heritage Explorer will navigate to the sheltered waters of Port Fitzroy where there will be time to take the kayaks for a paddle, head ashore by Zodiac or perhaps even spend some time fishing with the Captain.

Day 3Great Barrier Island

Today we have a full day dedicated to exploring Great Barrier Island. Existing entirely off grid through solar power and rainwater collection, 60 per cent of the island’s 285 kilometres is public land managed by the Department of Conservation where spectacular towering cliffs meet white surf beaches, wetlands, fiords and bays home to Spotless Crake, Fernbird, Brown Teal, Banded Rail, North Island Kaka and more than 13 species of lizard including the Chevron Skink. For the more active there are forest walks to explore, while those preferring to stay on, or near, the water there is the opportunity to take out the kayaks or join a Zodiac safari. If conditions are favourable, there may be an opportunity to visit Arid Island – one of the most beautiful, remote and rarely visited outer islands in the Gulf.

Day 4Mokohinau - Hen & Chickens Islands - Whangaruru

An exploration of the outer islands of the Hauraki Gulf starts early this morning as we sail over to the archipelago of predator free Mokohinau Islands. The size of these tiny islands and outcrops, positioned uniquely at the edge of the continental shelf, belie their importance as a refuge for some of New Zealand’s most endangered species found nowhere else on the planet. Continuing northwards there is the option to set our course, depending on the prevailing conditions, to either the Hen and Chickens Islands or Poor Knights Islands. Both of these island groups have been vitally important in the story of New Zealand conservation and we will delve into this history today as well as marvel at the abundance of life both above and below the water on these remarkable island outposts.

Day 5Whangamumu Harbour - Cape Brett

This morning we plan to visit the old whaling station at Whangamumu Harbour, this beautifully protected cove to the south of the Bay of Islands hides a dark past as the site of one of the earliest European whaling bases in New Zealand. The only whaling station in the world which caught whales with nets, Whangamumu was Northland’s longest running and most successful whaling station operating from the 1800s to early 1900s. The beautiful scenery continues as Heritage Explorer sails northwards past spectacular Cape Brett and the iconic Hole in the Rock at Piercy Island. The more adventurous on board may wish to take the opportunity to walk some of the Cape Brett Lighthouse Walk, the exertion rewarded by stunning coastal scenery.

Day 6Whangaroa Harbour - Cavalli Islands

Wake this morning to the breath-catching scenery of Whangaroa Harbour. North of the Bay of Islands, this dramatic harbour is defined by both its narrow entrance, gravity defying volcanic spires, sheltered bays and tranquil sandy beaches. Head out on the water and explore by kayak or Zodiac, or head ashore and enjoy a morning hike to one of the vantage points that provide epic panoramas over these unforgettable surrounds. We then sail to the Cavalli Islands where there is the opportunity to explore nature reserve and diving hotspot Motukawanui Island. Swimming and snorkelling opportunities abound, explore powdery white sand beaches or tackle the Island track along the ridge of the island where spectacular views over the forest-clad coastline and scattered islands await.

Day 7Bay of Islands

We have the whole day set aside to explore and enjoy the Bay of Islands. Opportunities include exploring predator free Urupukapuka Island fringed by Pohutukawa forest, where Project Island Song has successfully released North Island Robin, Saddleback and Whitehead, and the dramatic, unrestrained beauty of Roberton Island which is also rich in New Zealand history. Later in the day there is an opportunity to explore historic Russell, a town of New Zealand firsts including first seaport, European settlement, capital and licensed hotel. Perhaps enjoy a drink at the iconic The Duke of Marlborough and brace yourself for one of Russell’s famed sunsets.

Day 8Paihia - Auckland

Following breakfast and final farewells we head ashore at Paihia where there is the opportunity for you to stay and spend some additional time or join our complimentary shuttle transfer to Auckland. We expect to arrive in central Auckland around 12 noon this afternoon. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.


We’re excited to let you know we have partnered with pioneering small ship expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions in Christchurch. 

Like ourselves, they are NZ owned and run. Heritage Expeditions pioneered authentic expedition voyages to Antarctica and the Sub Antarctic Islands, and have a wealth of experience in this area. As we both share common values we know you will be well looked after and have a great adventure.

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