Unsurprisingly in a country with the ninth longest coastline in the world, and where you’re never more than 120km from the sea, there are some pretty nice trips by water. Here’s a few of my favourites…
Pelorus Sounds Mail Boat
Great day on the water from Havelock exploring the largest of the Marlborough Sounds (there are four in total, including the better known Queen Charlotte Sounds) in the company of Jim the (Scottish) Skipper. Runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays delivering mail to some of the most remote homes I’ve seen in NZ, and keeping a boat full of tourists entertained and informed about the locals and mussel farming. Bonus points for dolphin and orca sightings.
Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound
Actually fjords, though as they’re more spectacular than sounds (steeper and higher sides) we’ll let them off. Milford Sound is the famous one, with huge waterfalls and Mitre Peak, while Doubtful Sound is ten times the size and has more wildlife and fewer boats. Both must dos in Fjordland, and the journeys to get to both of them, via Milford Road and Lake Manapouri, are stunning.
Crossing the Cook Strait, which can be one of the roughest bits of water in the world, to arrive or depart the South Island in style. Ex English Channel ferries carefully make their way from Picton through Queen Charlotte Sound over to Wellington. The only way to get between the islands without flying, with some typically lovely NZ scenery for free.
Ferry to Coromandel
A much more relaxed way (particularly over the holidays) to get from Auckland to the bach mecca that is the Coromandel. The ferry goes along the southern side of Waiheke, offering views of places only accessible from the water. A free coach at the end will take you into Coromandel Town, my favourite spot on the peninsula, less beachy, more historic and full of great places to eat.
Bay of Islands
A holiday makers haven and deservedly so. As the name suggests this is one place best explored from the water and why not get some fishing in at the same time? Captain Bucho looked after us one afternoon. We heard some very unPC tales and caught two Kingfish and half a dozen snapper, which a restaurant in Piahia were able to turn into the best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten…
Ferrry to Waiheke
Classic Auckland summer day trip, and a lovely way to see the city from the water. Great views of the Devonport Naval base, Eastern Bays (Mission Bay, Kohi and St. Heliers) and Rangitoto before arriving into Matiatia Bay. It’s free to take your bike which in my opinion is the best (and certainly cheapest) way to get around the island though may involve a few hills… For a similar experience in Wellington take the ferry to Days Bay which is just as scenic and somewhat less busy.
Ports of Auckland
Free hour long cruise around the harbour run by Ports of Auckland every few weeks taking in the Port, Harbour Bridge, Westhaven and Wynyard Quarter. Interesting commentary on how the port operates and good option for getting out on the water for free.