BAY OF ISLANDS
The Bay of Islands is a large region that includes the towns of Paihia, Kerikeri and Russell. There are 144 islands in the region. There are also numerous sheltered coves and many flat beaches. This is one of the top tourist destinations in New Zealand for it's shear beauty. There are several types of tours you can take around the bay from just a few hours to three days. The tour we chose was called the "Ultimate Bay Adventure Day". We spent the morning on one boat with the hope of swimming with dolphins. We stopped at an island for lunch. Then we spent the afternoon on a different boat going out through the "Hole in the Rock" and past the Cape Brett Lighthouse.
I typically don't post pictures of hotels we stay in. But this one deserves the online credit because it is superb. Hands down, the "Admiral's View Lodge" is best hotel we stayed at while in New Zealand. It is absolutely pristinely clean, inside and out, and the service is impeccable. Our room was very large. That's one king and one double you see in the picture with plenty of room left over. Not even shown in the picture are two large lounge chairs, the computer desk, TV and closet. Since our room was on the second level, we had a great view of the bay. This is also the only hotel we stayed in that gave us free internet.
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Morning on the bay and our boat is coming in. As in normal in this area, there are multi-million dollar homes built on the coastal bluffs. While looking for dolphins, we found a lone Bryde's whale that had been hanging around for a while. Then we found a family of dolphins. Because there were juveniles present, we were not allowed to swim with them. I tried so hard to get a good picture of a dolphin jumping, but I never seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
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We passed submarine rock shortly before pulling into Otehei Bay at Urupukapuka Island. We stayed there for about two hours and enjoyed a "Kiwi BBQ" lunch at the Zane Grey Cafe.

Coming up to Cape Brett and the famous "Hole in the Rock". We are in a large catamaran that doesn't look like it will fit between the rocks around the entrance to the hole. Our captain says that smaller boats go through but his is too big. So he hovers around the opening for a few minutes for everyone to have good picture opportunities, then, to the amazement of everyone on board, he suddenly surges into the opening and goes on through. It seems that we are barely clearing the sides.

A much smaller boat had been hanging around the entrance of the 'Hole in the Rock" watching us. After we went through, he decided to go through. Our captain turned his vessel around and we watched the smaller boat come on through. At one point, he was uncomfortably close to the rocks on the right side near the entrance.

On our way back to Paihia, we passed close to the Cape Brett Light house and station. The lighthouse was converted to electricity in 1968. Ten years later, in 1978, a completely automatic beacon was erected in front of the lighthouse which is no longer used. The Cape Brett Landing can only be used in very calm weather. When supplies were delivered to the lighthouse during its years of operation, they had to be winched out of the boat, then hauled uphill on steep rails.
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