10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© NZPocketGuide.com
10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands

15 BEST Cruises in the Bay of Islands: Boat Tours, Sailing & More

© NZPocketGuide.com

Sailing, Cruises and Boat Tours in Paihia, Russell and the Bay of Islands

Don’t look forlorn at the glistening waters of the Bay of Islands from shore, get out there on one of the sailing cruises, catamaran tours or even a jet boat ride. There’s no better way to experience the bay and its island highlights than a boat cruise, so take your pick from our diverse selection of the best cruises in the Bay of Islands, including from Paihia and Russell.

Plus, for planning more of your trip according to your unique travel style, check out The Complete Travel Guide to the Bay of Islands and the 10 Best Things to Do in the Bay of Islands.

1. Fullers GreatSights – Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise – The Best Cruise from Paihia

Deliver mail to remote islands in the Bay of Islands and see iconic sights on the Fullers GreatSightsHole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise (now operated by Explore). Enjoy a smooth cruise on their large catamaran with multiple viewing decks ideal for spotting dolphins and other marine wildlife. A highlight is heading all the way to the end of the Cape Brett Peninsula and through the giant archway island known as the Hole in the Rock. The cruise lasts approximately four hours. Find out more about the cruise and book tickets on Klook or Viator

Location: Departures from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf or Russell Wharf, The Strand.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© NZPocketGuide.com

2. R. Tucker Thompson Sailing Cruise – The Most Unique Cruise in the Bay of Islands

One of the most striking vessels in the Bay of Islands, R. Tucker Thompson is a 100-year-old tall ship. On their 5 hr 30 mins day cruise, help hoist the sails, climb the rigging or simply enjoy relaxing on the deck. The cruise includes morning tea, as well as a barbecue lunch. You’ll also anchor in a secluded bay to enjoy some swimming in the warmer months. Sunset voyages are also available. Find out more about the cruises on Viator and Klook

Location: Departures from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf or Russell Wharf, The Strand.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© R. Tucker Thompson

3. Barefoot Sailing Adventures – Island Hopper Day Cruise – The Best Sailing in the Bay of Islands

A laidback way to see the Bay of Islands is on the catamaran sailing yacht with Barefoot Sailing Adventures. As Paihia’s only cruise that departs from the beach, you’re encouraged to go “barefoot” from the get-go. Then kick back on one of the yacht’s beanbags with morning tea. Enjoy the views and look out for dolphins on the way to the cruise’s island destination for snorkelling, paddleboarding and enjoying some lunch.

Location: Paihia Beach, Paihia.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Explore – Bay of Islands Discovery Cruise – The Best Cruise for Families in the Bay of Islands

Jump on board Explore‘s modern catamaran for a day out in the Bay of Islands. See the sights of the bay with full onboard commentary, while looking out for dolphins. You’ll sail through the iconic Hole in the Rock, as well as stop by the scenic Urupukapuka Island for a barbecue lunch/dinner. The experience lasts approximately five hours. Plus, see more family-friendly activities in the 10 Things to Do in the Bay of Islands with Kids.

Location: The ticket office is 60 Marsden Road, Paihia. Cruises depart from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf or Russell Wharf, The Strand.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© NZPocketGuide.com

5. The Rock Adventure Cruise – The Best Overnight Cruise in the Bay of Islands

Stay overnight on the waters of the Bay of Islands with The Rock Adventure Cruise. Your cruise departs on an evening where you’ll experience night fishing, kayaking over bioluminescent algae, and tucking into a barbecue dinner. You’ll stay in one of the private cabins or dorm cabins of this purpose-built floating hostel before waking up the next morning to snorkelling and/or hiking on one of the islands. The experience lasts approximately 22 hours. Plus, for more budget-friendly experiences, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in the Bay of Islands.

Location: Cruises depart from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Carino Wildlife Cruise – The Best Dolphin Cruise in the Bay of Islands

For a sailing tour with an emphasis on wildlife and dolphin viewings, choose the Carino Wildlife Cruise. The six-hour cruise on a 15 m (50 ft) catamaran yacht focuses on looking out for little blue penguins, gannets and, of course, the Bay of Islands’ resident pods of dolphins. The cruise includes an island stop with a scenic walk, as well as a barbecue lunch and the opportunity to snorkel from the beach. See more places to spot dolphins in the 5 Best Places to Swim with Dolphins in New Zealand.

Location: Cruises depart from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© Carino Wildlife Cruise

7. Island Getaway Tours – Bay of Islands Cruise and Island Tour – The Best Bespoke Cruise in the Bay of Islands

A more active cruise in the Bay of Islands, Island Getaway Tours offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy watersports and a hike on an island on their cruise and island tour. They have small-group and private tours available with snorkelling gear, paddleboards and more to make the most of your day. Light refreshments are included but you might want to bring your own lunch. Find out more about the five-hour tour on Viator and Klook

Location: Cruises depart from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands: Boat Tours, Sailing Cruises & More© Island Getaway Tours - Viator

8. Bay of Islands Adventures – Bay of Islands Jet Boat Tour – The Best Jet Boat in the Bay of Islands

For an alternative way to cruise the Bay of Islands, jump on the high-speed thrill ride that is Xtreme Jet! More about epic 360° spins than exploration, the 30-minute experience gets you darting across the calm waters of the sheltered Bay of Islands at speeds of up to 80 kph! Plus, check out other jet boat tours in the 20 Best Places to Jet Boat in New Zealand.

Location: Tours depart from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© Xtreme Jet Bay of Islands

9. Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak – Waterfall Cruise – The Best River Cruise in the Bay of Islands

Forget the bay with 144 islands, Bay of Islands Cruise & Kayak takes you on an alternative cruise down the Waitangi River. The trip begins on a specially-built boat topped with kayaks and paddleboards to enjoy later. The 40-minute cruise takes you past cormorant colonies and mangrove forests on the way to Harurru Falls where it’s time to get out and have some paddling fun! The whole experience lasts approximately 2h45mins. Find out more on Viator and Klook

Location: Te Karuwha Parade, Waitangi Bridge, Waitangi.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Ecocruz – Overnight Sailing Cruise – The Best Luxury Cruise in the Bay of Islands

Getaway for three days on a sailing adventure with Ecocruz. Their 22 m (72 ft) yacht is kitted out with a private double room and shared bunk cabin, making it ideal for families, couples and groups of mates looking for an awesome weekend activity in the bay. The trip includes highlights like the Hole in the Rock, visiting two islands and anchoring in quiet bays where you can enjoy snorkelling, kayaking and wildlife. Note that tours only operate between November and May. And for more experiences like this, check out the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in the Bay of Islands.

Location: Cruises depart from 69 Marsden Road, Paihia Wharf.

10 Best Cruises in the Bay of Islands© NZPocketGuide.com

5 More Cruises and Sailing Tours in the Bay of Islands

And for some honourable mentions, here are five more amazing cruises, boat tours and sailing charters in the Bay of Islands:

  1. Bayscapes Charters – Sailing catamaran tours with a 2-hour island stop including SUP boards, snorkelling and lunch
  2. Love Machine Yacht Charter – Private sailing charter and day tour for up to eight guests
  3. Vigilant Yacht Charters – Sailing tours departing from Russell with lunch, kayaks and snorkelling included
  4. Phantom Sailing – Sail the Bay of Islands with a lunch stop and a chance to hike, snorkel and swim
  5. Silver Wave Yacht Charters – Luxury catamaran yacht tour with paddleboards, island hike, beach games and lunch.

For more sailing around the country, check out the 10 Best Sailing Tours in New Zealand.

More About Cruises in the Bay of Islands

That’s it for our guide to the best cruises from Paihia, Russell and the Bay of Islands. Get more advice for your trip to the Bay of Islands from the following guides:

Finally, see how these cruises compare to the 15 Best Boat Cruises in New Zealand and plan the rest of your time in the bay with The Complete Travel Guide to the Bay of Islands.

Author

Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

Was this article useful?

Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter