Islands of Auckland - 6 Nights
Auckland to Auckland
March - April 2014
Day 1 Sunday - Dinner
Your Hauraki Gulf cruise begins when you board the ship late Sunday afternoon for a 5pm sailing. On the way to our anchorage for the night, we glide past mysterious Rangitoto Island – you’ll learn about the island’s history as you sip a cocktail on the aft deck and get acquainted with fellow guests and crew. Your first night aboard Island Passage is spent anchored at Waiheke Island with dinner served from 7pm. Welcome to cruising life at its best.
Day 2 Monday - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Your Waiheke day could start with a refreshing ocean swim off the back of the ship or sleep in until it’s time for a sumptuous breakfast on deck (with champagne if you fancy) – whatever you need to begin the day in a great mood. Late morning we go ashore for wine tasting or an cultural visit.
Kennedy Point Vineyard was established in 1996 and from the beginning, the philosophy of the family owned vineyard has been to focus on producing the very best wines from the site matched with thorough attention in the Vineyard and wine production. The vineyard is planted on steep north facing slopes on clay soils and organic and biodynamic methods are used in the Vineyard. Kennedy Point is fully certified by Organic Farms N.Z. as of August 2010, an organic certification program designed for small producers.
Obsidian Vineyard nestles in the coastal hills of the Onetangi Valley adjacent to the northern coast of Waiheke Island. Here, small batches of wine are grown on four discrete hillsides set out in an amphitheatre-like fashion. The sheltered vines enjoy high levels of heat summation, tempered by the maritime breeze. The mineralized clay soil is rich in iron and manganese oxides, and overlays ancient weathered rock. These conditions perfectly suit the noble red and white grapes originating from the Mediterranean countries.
Passage Rock Wines was established in 1993 to specialize in producing Waiheke wines of distinction, recognising the strengths of each site and region to produce the best wine for the season, the site and the most appropriate grape variety. Their Syrah is recognised as one of the finest in New Zealand and has an incredible 6 gold medals from just 3 years and it has ranked in the top 5 in NZ.
We finish with lunch at the Passage Rock café. Seated amongst the vines, the café is the perfect setting to just relax and take in the beautiful views. The ship is anchored in the bay below and after lunch we are back onboard to move to our next location.
Day 3 Tuesday - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Great Barrier Island
With a population of just 850, Great Barrier is a wild and enchanting paradise with amazing stories to tell. Fitzroy Harbour, on the sheltered side of the island, is one of the country’s most beautiful harbours. In many places the water is deep - right up to the shore – making it possible to anchor and tie the stern to a pohutukawa tree. Kaka parrots squawk overhead, performing entertaining aerobatics. Rare pateke ducks cruise from boat to boat, posing for photographs. Tall forested mountains create a backdrop of amazing natural beauty.
Great Barrier has a colourful history involving whaling, gold and silver mining, shipwrecks and alternative lifestyles. Today, a passion for conservation connects the residents who believe (with good reason) that they’ve found heaven on earth. More than 120 kilometres of walking tracks let you connect with Great Barrier Island’s wild spirit. In particular, the Glenfern Sanctuary guided walk will give you a special insight into this earthly paradise. A highlight is the swing bridge that lets you climb into the crown of a 600-year-old kauri tree.
Today’s lunch is all about seafood – freshly-caught fish and green-lipped mussels, which are sensational with a glass of New Zealand’s renowned sauvignon blanc.
Day 4 Wednesday - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today at lunchtime our 3 night guests fly back to Auckland by plane and our new joining 2 night guests arrive onboard to join the party. Coastal explorations add a special magic to your Great Barrier experience. You can do it the fast way, in one of our high-powered tenders, or you can slip into a sea kayak and enjoy the tranquillity of paddling at your pace. And then there’s the fantastic fishing – you catch ‘em, we’ll cook ‘em.
Today the choices are many: forest-hiking to the kauri dam, Kaitoke hot springs or the summit of Mount Hobson; a peaceful kayak tour on the pristine waters of the harbour; a trip to Miners Head in one of our tenders; fishing at a never-fail spot known only to the locals; or seabird photography from a chair on the deck. We’ll help you to find something that suits your interests.
Photo opportunities – The Kaiaraara kauri dam is a relic from the island’s forestry days. Constructed entirely from kauri logs, it has a ‘trapdoor’ that opens to let the water and logs pass through. The hot pools in Kaitoke Creek are another goal to aim for when planning your Great Barrier Island hikes – there’s nothing nicer than a steaming bath in the wilderness.
Wednesday is French Fine Dining night – duck confit, vanilla pannacotta, ooh la la!
Day 5 Thursday - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
This morning’s breakfast is the full American, complete with free-range eggs, home-made hash browns and freshly-baked bread. Or cereal and juice if you wish.
Kawau’s unique character rests on the historic shoulders of Sir George Grey, who owned the island from 1862 to 1888. Within the sheltered haven of beautiful Bon Accord Harbour there are many picturesque bays, however Mansion House Bay is the most remarkable. Here you can tour Sir George Grey’s stately home, then stroll along the road that Grey’s carriage (pulled by two zebras!) used to take. From the historic coach road, a track leads to the picturesque ruins of a seashore copper mine – the oxidised copper colours are truly amazing. Watch the forest closely when you’re walking back - you might spot a wallaby.
Another great Kawau walk is the Redwood Track, which reveals an interesting collection of exotic trees planted by Grey – redwoods, Australian bush cherry and bunyabunya pines, to name just a few. A visit to the yacht club bar will help you to connect with the island’s own brand of charm.
Day 6 Friday - Breakfast
After breakfast we are into the tenders for one of our favourite shore excursions. Experience the food, wine and arts of Matakana Coast where your informed and entertaining guides make it an exhilarating “assault on the senses” day out.
The heart of Matakana Coast Wine Country has the ideal combination of gourmet and retail therapy. Visit Morris & James Pottery, where you are greeted by a pure visual spectacle of layer upon layer of design and colour from matt black to luscious red. Lunch is at Mahurangi River Winery with its contemporary New Zealand architecture and wide pastoral views. Tour the winery and barrel room and sample their wine (made from grapes grown only on the property) before taking time to enjoy the local cuisine.
From here Brick Bay Sculpture Trail showcases an ever-changing exhibition of contemporary sculptures by leading New Zealand artists. Sample their hand-crafted wines in the unique Glass House building. The day is rounded off with a stop at Chocolate Brown, where they hand-make outrageously fine chocolates.
We return to the ship late afternoon. After you are comfortable onboard we leave Kawau Island and pass through numerous islands of the inner Hauraki Gulf to arrive at Rakino Island in time for dinner. Tonight is the farewell party so be prepared for a late night.
Day 7 Saturday – Breakfast
This morning we sail from Rakino and have breakfast under way. You’ll bid a fond farewell to all on the Island Passage at 9am when we arrive alongside Princes Wharf.
Please note the itinerary is subject to change due to weather/sea conditions.