We spent the afternoon on a very powerful catamaran, with about 100 other people, exploring the Bay of Islands properly.
And yes, within 5 minutes we came across a family pod of about 25 bottlenose dolphins, including a four month old baby dolphin with its mum. It was as magical as it sounds. The dolphins were quite happy to swim and play around the boat for ages. Eventually we had to leave them, the dolphins themselves would have stayed by the boat for a lot longer.
The Bay of Islands is just stunningly beautiful. Especially as the weather was perfect. Hundreds of rocky outcrop Islands of all sizes. The boat stopped for an hour at one of the bigger islands – Urupukapuka, and we scrambled up a hill to get the most fantastic views of Otehei Bay. The Bay was named by Captain Cook.
And yes very impressively this large boat did go through the Hole in the Rock. It took the skipper a while to be sure that the boat was lined up properly and sea conditions were okay. There were only a few feet spare on each side and quite a few rocky outcrops. But for quite a contrived manoeuvre it was surprisingly awesome.
Overall a lovely, lovely day.