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The best place to be in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, a sheltered bay strung with more than 140 subtropical islands, is out on the water. From dolphin and whale-watching expeditions to sightseeing boat tours that follow scenic routes through the bay, here are just a few of your cruising options in the Bay of Islands. 

Half-Day Cruises
A half-day cruise in the Bay of Islands might take a form of a catamaran sail through the famous Hole in the Rock, a natural archway carved into the cliffs of Motukokako Island, followed by a stop at Urupukapuka Island, the largest in the archipelago, where you can go birdwatching, swimming, or trekking. Some half-day cruises incorporate Maori cultural experiences where you can learn about Maori crafts and culture. Passengers also have the the chance to spot the marine wildlife species that live in the bay, from penguins and seals to dolphins and whales. 

Full-Day Cruises
During full-day cruises around the Bay of Islands, you can expect to cover more ground, see more wildlife, reach more secluded parts of the bay, and have additional time for extra activities. Many full-day cruises include stopovers at two remote islands or sheltered coves, where passengers can kayak, swim, sunbathe, paddleboard, hike, or snorkel. Most full-day cruises incorporate a meal either on board or at one of the islands. 
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Half-Day Bay of Islands Discovery Tour from Paihia

Half-Day Bay of Islands Discovery Tour from Paihia

star-4.5
128
  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$86.46
From
$86.46
Explore subtropical islands, Maori heritage sites and golden beaches on this cruise around the Bay of Islands from Paihia. Soak up the scenery as you float between the bay’s 144 islands, sail straight through the iconic Hole in the Rock (weather permitting) and tuck into a BBQ lunch or dinner at the stunning Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island. Along the way, spot dolphins swimming and playing alongside the boat.
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* A traveler said: "Really enjoyed the scenery. However on booking details it should tell you what to bring eg.... packed lunch, towel for swimming and stopping at the island of Otehei bay."


Bay of Islands Cruise & Island Tour - Snorkel, Hike, Swim, Paddleboard, Wildlife
Let seafaring experts show you the best of New Zealand’s Bay of Islands by land and by water on this adventure cruise. With 144 different isles, it can be hard to know where to start, but your captain and crew know all the best spots to swim, snorkel, stand-up paddleboard, and spot marine life. Hop off at two hand-picked islands for a hike to panoramic lookout points and beachside tea with biscuits.
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* A traveler said: "We had a mall group of 6 which was divine . Great experience. Walk up to lookout was sensational. Loved our guide who was informative, friendly and professional."


Bay of Islands Tall Ship Sailing on 'R. Tucker Thompson' Including BBQ Lunch

Bay of Islands Tall Ship Sailing on 'R. Tucker Thompson' Including BBQ Lunch

star-5
203
  • 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$114.56
From
$114.56
Sail the Bay of Islands on a working tall ship aboard the famed ‘R. Tucker Thompson,’ built in the tradition of a 100-year-old Northland schooner. Ply the waters of the pristine bay, where you can help hoist the sails, climb the rigging or simply relax on board, then swim while anchored in a sheltered bay in the maritime park. Enjoy morning tea and a barbecue lunch, with an optional complimentary ferry ride from Paihia to Russell, where your vessel departs.
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* A traveler said: "Steve, Abbie and Michelle were awesome. Very friendly and Steve was a real character, he had some very tall tales to tell hahaha It was our first time on a sail ship and loved everyy minute of it. I was a little disappointed that I had a shoulder injury and couldn't help out but there's always next time. Highly recommended Adventure 😁👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾"


Island Hopper Day Cruise

Island Hopper Day Cruise

star-5
107
  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$111.68
From
$111.68
The Bay of Islands is made up of 144 islands, and the best way to explore them is by boat. On this island-hopping day cruise, you can relax on board a comfortable catamaran while admiring the beautiful views of the sea, islands, and maybe even some dolphins. Snorkel, swim, or paddle board, and stop on land to visit a wildlife sanctuary. This is the easy way to see the bay, as it’s difficult to travel here independently without a boat.
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* A traveler said: "Very relaxed and wonderful day out. Guides were fun and helpful. Picnic lunch was just right. You are in full sun for a large part of the day, so hat, sunscreen etc are necessary. It was great to be on the water."


Afternoon Cruise & Island Tour - Scenic Cruise, Hike, Snorkel, Wildlife,

Afternoon Cruise & Island Tour - Scenic Cruise, Hike, Snorkel, Wildlife,

star-5
50
  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$65.78
From
$65.78
There’s no better way to discover the 144 sub-tropical islands that stud the Bay of Islands than on a cruise. With a top limit of just 20 passengers, this intimate boat trip delivers two island stopovers, one at Roberton Island or Twin Lagoons, plus the chance to hike, swim, snorkel, or even try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding. Look out for dolphins along the way.
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* A traveler said: "Great afternoon cruise and one of our favorite activities while staying in the north! We visited two of the Islands. Short stay at the first and a longer stay at the second with the possiblity to try snorkling and SUP."


Full-Day Bay of Islands Tour by Vigilant Yacht Charters

Full-Day Bay of Islands Tour by Vigilant Yacht Charters

star-5
151
  • 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Taking safety measures
From
$100.87
From
$100.87
Spend a day cruising through the Bay of Islands aboard a deluxe sailboat that sets sail from Russell. Your captain stops at a picturesque island where you have lunch, and time to snorkel, kayak, swim, and walk to a lookout point. Cruise over to The Black Rocks for photo ops of the volcanic formation, keep an eye out for marine life, and hear commentary from your captain about the region.
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* A traveler said: "Excellent trip with a lovely host! Lovely lunch and great island time! Would highly recommend! We had perfect weather which made for a great day out on the yacht."


Phantom Sailing Bay of Islands

Phantom Sailing Bay of Islands

star-5
90
  • 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$93.67
From
$93.67
Cruising is the best way to see the sub-tropical Bay of Islands. Do this in style aboard the Phantom, a live-aboard private yacht. Your hosts are an enthusiastic sailing family who have traveled the world in their yacht. Sit back and relax on board the Phantom while enjoying views of the islands and bay, with possible dolphin sightings and the chance to snorkel.
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* A traveler said: "Robin and Rick are fantastic hosts making our day unforgettable (family of 5). Their passion of sailing exercised all over the world is really a plus. the Phantom is very confortable and surely one of the quickest boat of the bay. Encounter with Dolphins was incredible! Strongly recommended, best sailing experience you can find in Russell."


Bay of Islands Tall Ship Sundowner Sailing

Bay of Islands Tall Ship Sundowner Sailing

star-5
54
  • 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$48.64
From
$48.64
This 2-hour experience aboard a tall ship in the Bay of Islands offers a gentle sail in the afternoon. Step aboard the elegant 'R. Tucker Thompson' and enjoy an antipasto platter accompanied by drinks available for purchase at the bar. Round-trip ferry transfer to Russell is included.
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* A traveler said: "We enjoyed the whole trip it was something new for us both climbing the rigging and steering from the helm also the crew on board made the whole trip a great and friendly experience would recommend it for anyone staying in the area next time will do whole day trip"


Island & Wildlife Day Cruise

Island & Wildlife Day Cruise

star-5
16
  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$121.05
From
$121.05
Experience with us and help protect our wild dolphins! Surrounded by deep blue waters, vivid green islands and diverse wildlife, sailing on Carino NZ our 50ft catamaran is the best way to experience the stunning bay of islands. We are a small, local family owned and operated wildlife cruise. Join us on our marine wildlife conservation vessel. On board help to set sails or sit back and relax.Time to take a deep breath and unwind. Watch for wild dolphins in their ocean habitat. We are only yacht licensed to view wild dolphins in the Bay. Viewing wild dolphins in their natural habitat is an amazing and wonderful experience. A portion of every fare contributes directly to marine mammal conservation – Protect the future While we are sailing, watch for our local little blue penguins and our crazy diving gannets. An island stop is included, where you get to explore a historic scenic island walks, snorkeling at the beach. Bbq lunch aboard Carino NZ, a cash bar available.
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Sundowner Evening Cruise

Sundowner Evening Cruise

star-5
12
  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$50.44
From
$50.44
Sundowner Evening Cruise, a summertime special! Departing Paihia beachfront at 5pm. The boat pulls right up to the beach where you can step aboard from the shore line. Enjoy a relaxed sail aboard a smooth sailing catamaran in a peaceful setting, while the sun is going down. For those who want to enjoy the beauty of an evening cruise taking in the sights of the idyllic Bay of Islands, the Sundowner Cruise is a perfect start to a good night out with friends and family, a romantic getaway, or just the perfect escape from the daily grind! • Experience sailing at it's best, make the most of the beautiful sea breeze. Watch the wind fill the sails, kick back and enjoy the tranquility. • Enjoy the beauty of a sheltered anchorage for a swim stop, sip on a complimentary drink and take in the scenery. • See the landmarks of historical importance in the Bay of Islands from a different perspective, while under sail.
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* A traveler said: "Loved this trip. Boutique, chilled and stunning. The boat was gorgeous and being out in the bay and swimming off the boat was magic. Highly recommended"


Bay of Islands Shore Excursion: Russell and Waitangi Treaty Grounds
From
$114.55
Experience the very best of the Bay of Islands on this shore excursion, including tours and exploration of Paihia, Russell, Kerikeri, Haruru Falls and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. While your cruise ship is berthed in the Bay of Islands, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Paihia, the beautiful Haruru Falls, and Kerikeri with its historic Mission House and Stone Store. Following your sightseeing tour, your coach will board a vehicle ferry to Russell where you can explore New Zealand's oldest town on foot. You will then return to Paihia via passenger ferry and be transferred to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds with time for lunch (own expense) and a fully guided tour of the grounds and Maori Cultural Performance. Finally you will be transferred back to your cruise ship tenders where your tour will conclude.
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* A traveler said: "Great tour and great local driver. Beautiful place and definitely a favourite of everyone on the tour"


Private Charter - Bay of Islands Cruise & Island Tour

Private Charter - Bay of Islands Cruise & Island Tour

star-5
1
  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$886.81
per group
From
$886.81
per group
Spend the day cruising the clear blue waters of the Bay of Islands, hopping from beach to beach – or spend it snorkelling around local reefs and shipwrecks – or spend it hiking through the pristine native bush on a handful of the Bay’s 140-plus islands. On this private charter in the Bay of Islands, do what you to do. Instead of sticking to a tour operator’s preset schedule, tailor your half- or full-day itinerary in the Bay to your own tastes.
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The Rock Adventure Overnight Cruise

The Rock Adventure Overnight Cruise

star-5
88
  • 22 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$275.29
Price varies by group size
From
$275.29
Price varies by group size
The Rock overnight cruise in the Bay of Islands is the only overnight cruise in the area to offer such a wide range of activities, including kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, island walks, and more. Enjoy adventure activities as well as time to relax in peaceful nature. As this is an all-inclusive tour you don’t need to worry about any logistics. Just show up ready for fun.
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Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands "Winterless North Cruise & Island Stopover"

star-5
10
  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$65.78
From
$65.78
Winterless North // Bay of Islands Cruise & Island Stopover Departing twice daily, escape the crowds and discover the Bay of Islands Locally owned and operated, with a passion for sharing our beautiful area. Suitable for all ages, families, solo travellers and couples...experience it all! • Two remote island stopovers (Roberton Island & Otehei Bay) • Native bush walks and 360 degree views from the island lookout points • Interactive commentary and information • Lookout for unique wildlife throughout the day • Scenic cruising among 144 subtropical islands. There's no better way to experience the Bay of Islands
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Full-Day Adventure Cruise with Lunch in Bay of Islands

Full-Day Adventure Cruise with Lunch in Bay of Islands

star-4.5
8
  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$149.93
From
$149.93
Spend the day exploring the Bay of Islands on a full-day cruise from Paihia. Participate in activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, gathering fresh sea food, exploring WWII remains, and trekking across islands to visit ancient Maori fortifications. Refuel with a buffet lunch midday and spend some time relaxing on a secluded beach.
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Jet Boat Ride Tour in Bay of Islands

Jet Boat Ride Tour in Bay of Islands

star-5
1
  • 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$56.20
From
$56.20
This Jet Boat ride is sure to keep you on your toes with speeds of up to 80km on the water and twists, turns and spins that will make you scream with laughter! This is a great activity for both the old and young!
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