Bay of Islands & White Island
The Bay of Islands
On just our third day (let's hope for no jet-lag) we will be stopping at the Bay of Islands where we will take an afternoon cruise around the bay. While there, we will be witness to the splendor that the great author Zane Grey described nearly a century ago (check this out), although, this inlet, located near the northern-most extent of the North Island, was first named by Captain Cook on his circumnavigation in 1769.
We will hopefully be able to see some of the many exotic species that inhabit these parts including whales, dolphins, and marlin, amongst many others in our time to the bay. But if birdwatching or big-game fishing don't seem like your ideal time then perhaps one of the one-hundred dive sites or boat rental or gourmet food sound a bit better. For those of you who like golf, there is a local course that is said to have some of the most magnificent views anywhere.
The cliffs on the golf course to the jagged shores of the 150 odd islands present themselves quite stunningly in this 16 km wide natural harbor. The bay has a few notable arms in the mainland which were very important during the Cream Trip (yes, transporting cream between islands) and, even though it's not my topic, we must not forget that we will continue on to the jut of land at the eastern side of the island, Cape Brett. Oh and did I forget to mention that a 2006 study found that The Bay of Islands had the second bluest sky in the world behind on Rio de Janeiro? Pretty sweet huh?
By the time we get to White Island, we should be pretty well settled in with the Kiwis, and if not, there is nothing like a morning boat ride to an active volcanic site to create a little more excitement. The island, situated some 48 km off the north east coast of the North Island. It is erupted from the sea and stands nearly 2000 m off the sea floor. The island's monitored volcanic activity can be found at http://www.geonet.org.nz/ . Although there have been large eruptions in the past, most recently in the mid 80s, the volcano is normally at the lower end of an alert scale on eruptions.
White Island was named by Captain Cook and, like the Bay of Islands, is known for its big-game fishing. There have been attempts at sulfur mining in the past, but the deaths related to them have forced their abandonment, so most of the island remains both tourist and geological attractions.
A small fun fact: a dino figurine was glued to a rock in front of the Geonet volcano camera on the island. Geonet decided not to have it removed, assuming it was a plastic toy and would not survive long in the corrosive environment, but as of the fall of last year, the figurine still remained.. maybe we will get to see it? who knows
Man I can't wait to get there...