There is a magnificent array of wildlife in the Bay of Islands, above and below the water. We see incredible sea and bird life on every trip and often see dolphins cruising through our anchorage.

Marine mammals

The Bay of Islands has transient dolphins that often frequent our favourite anchorages. We are often blessed with the opportunity of seeing large families of wild bottlenose dolphins playing, resting or hunting. We see them in their natural setting, either crossing our path while cruising or whilst on anchor. Our intention is not to harass or interfere with their natural patterns and we treat their friendly visits as a great privilege. The bottlenose dolphins are the largest and friendliest of the dolphin family and can grow up to 3.5 metres in length. We see pods or groups of up to 20 dolphins at a time in the Bay of Islands. At certain times of the year we are lucky enough to see newborn dolphins swimming with these pods.

Orca are occasional visitors to the Bay, while travelling up to 150km per day. When we hear of these sightings we can be sure not to see any dolphins as they disappear to safer waters. Orca can grow to nearly 10m in length and have a striking black and white colour. These huge mammals are very curious and often approach boats to investigate.

The New Zealand Fur Seal is seen in Northland waters during spring. They are often sighted out near Piercy Island (the Hole in the Rock) during this period. This cute, whiskery creature can dive deeper and longer than any other fur seal.

Native birds

The Bay of Islands is home to a number of native birds. You will often hear kiwi calling at night and might see signs of their night-feeding excursions on some of the islands. Oyster catchers with their distinctive red bills are often seen feeding on the rocks. The rare New Zealand Dotterels are nesting on a number of the islands: if you see one looking as though it has a broken wing, beware! it’s only pretending and in fact it is trying to distract you away from its nest. We frequently see little blue penguin, relaxing on the surface of the sea, well unless you make to much noise in which case they will dive. Always keeping our eyes open for gannets diving the waters – a clear indication there are fish feeding close to the surface. It’s always a pleasure seeing these big, graceful birds whether they be resting on the rocks or soaring above all over the waters of the Bay of Islands.

I went on The Rock with friends from school and we had a great 24 hours! There were tons of fun things to do on the boat from playing pool, fishing, and even night kayaking! The captain and crew were very knowledgeable about the Bay of Islands and very friendly! It felt like I was hanging out with friends instead of the crew. I would 100% recommend this to anyone who wants to see the Bay of Islands. Visited May 2016TSanders904

Rock the Boat NZ! This overnight trip is great fun and well worth doing, particularly if travelling in a large group.Charlie G

We took a group of 25 international students from a high school on the overnight cruise. This is the second time we have done the overnight cruise, as the first group we took also thoroughly enjoyed it. When you leave Paihia you travel out to one of the Islands to anchor overnight. You get to shoot paint balls at a fake duck they tow behind the boat, go fishing, go night kayaking and swimming. The night kayaking was the students favourite part as we got to see the Bioluminescent Algae which was amazing and a once in a lifetime experience!Nicole

This was definitely the highlight of my trip in NZ! I absolutely loved the cruise and still talk about it to everyone as the highlight of my trip! So many fun activities! Fishing, night time kayaking, snorkelling and exploring an island plus many more! It was a very unique experience with friendly and passionate crew who instantly shared their passion and love for their time on the cruise! Amazing experience that really brings people together through travel :)Lara M

Enviro Award Silver Tourism Industry Association NZ DOC NZ