The Fullers GreatSights Hole in the Rock tour out of Paihia was my favorite excursion during our trip to New Zealand’s Northland. The outing takes a few hours as you begin by cruising around the calm bay waters and viewing the many undeveloped islands. This tour guarantees a dolphin spotting (and maybe even a whale) or they offer a free pass to try again on a different day. Then weather permitting a cruise out into the rougher waters to view the Hole in the Rock.
The weather was iffy on the day of our trip but we still ventured out. A dark rain cloud seemed to follow us out onto the water and created a brief shower. Once the rain cleared a beautiful rainbow appeared.
The sun popped out and we were on our way to spot sea life. Common dolphins were out to play on this particular day. I had high hopes of seeing an Orca but they were no shows. This tour gives the option (for an additional fee) to swim with dolphins but the middle of winter seemed a bit cold for me. (fingers crossed for a future bucket list item)
The weather held off so the captain announced that we would make it out to the Hole in the Rock but to brace for rougher waters. The trip was beautiful even getting a view of Cape Brett Lighthouse which has a cottage available for backpackers to rent after completing the 16.5-kilometer track.
Finally, we made it to the Hole on the Rock. Stunning!
The waters were too rough to cruise through it on this particular day so the captain backed the boat close to the hole so we could all take pictures.
The wind was powerful once we were out on the open water so Ella stayed tucked under my jacket. I will say this trip out may not be for the weak stomach as I saw a couple of people get seasick. Our family was fine though.
The next part of the cruise included an island stop where they encouraged walking up the hill for an incredible view. Andrew and Aubrey made the climb while I entertained Ella by picking seashells on the beach.
The last stop presents the choice to explore the historic town of Russell or continue to the starting point at Paihia. We decided to disembark in Russell for lunch with the hope of exploring a bit before returning by ferry. The weather had other plans for us. We enjoyed a café lunch while we waited on the rain to blow over. Then walked quickly down past a couple of the museums before deciding to turn back due to weather. Here are the only pictures I captured in Russell.
There were several places that I would have liked to visit here so worth spending some time on a nicer day.