355 Days on the Road
With only nine days left to go on this 365 Days: 365 Activities, we are still managing to find unique adventure experiences around New Zealand! In fact, we might have found our most unique accommodation experience to date. Jump on board The Rock with us for an adventure overnight cruise!
Welcome to The Rock
Today’s activity starts a little later than most, so we rock up to the Paihia Wharf in the Bay of Islands for around 4pm where we meet the team from The Rock. We jump onto some sort of motorised dingy (sorry for our lack of boat lingo) with Johnny and Adam getting to know each other as we cruise out to where our accommodation for the next 22 hours is moored. Another team member called Richard welcomes us on board and shows us around the dopest-looking house boat we ever did see! On the bottom floor, we have the central bar area, a pool table and instruments at the front, and a fireplace in the back. Every space has been utilised, such as the stack of kayaks on the back, the fishing rods hung on the ceiling, and who knows what else is tucked away on this boat?!
Unique hostel accommodation
Richard shows us upstairs to our room – there’s a whole hostel up here! Double beds, bunk rooms, the usual… but on a boat! What’s more, The Rock is actually considered a YHA hostel, so if you’ve got your membership, a discount is yours.
Joined on the deck by Topdeck
We sit down at the bar with a couple of beers for a classic chinwag with the bar tender as we wait for the rest of our crew to arrive. Today, we are joined by a group travelling on the Topdeck bus all starting their three-week-long New Zealand road trip.
Once everyone is settled in and briefed about tonight’s itinerary, we are ready to set sail! Cruising out of the harbour gives us time to mingle and enjoy the intense sunset. Then we join Richard at the back of the boat where… Is that a duck trailing behind the boat?
Paintballing a duck
Yes, an oversized rubber duck is trailing along at the other end of a line and Richard is holding a paintball gun in his hand. He explains what to do in the most duck-hatin’ icebreaker. We say our name, where we’re from, and an interesting/embarrassing fact about ourselves before given three shots to hit the rubber duck with a paintball gun. The guy and gal with the most shots get a free drink. Game on!
Man, this game takes skills but only three people out of our 20-something group have the talent. It even comes to a showdown between two guys to paint that duck yellow for a free drink. We have heaps of fun, and that opens the group up more.
It’s Robin’s turn to shoot at the duck!
Fishing for dinner
So, the fun has only just begun. Now free drinks are on offer to anyone who can catch a snapper! This results in a long line of us standing at the back of the boat with our lines cast when we arrive at our overnight stop in Matauwha Bay. Only the most determined and patient succeed at this task. One girl, in fact, is plucking out fish, making it as easy to get free drinks as being the only girl in a bar. She has to kiss them, of course, before one is saved for dinner and one is released back into the ocean.
A barbecue and birthday cake on a boat
Speaking of dinner, the barbeque is cranking and The Rock team are sprucing up a feast for us. Sausages, beef patties, veggie patties, five different types of salads with all the fixings are spread across the bar. After some speeches are made, we grab a plate and tuck in!
As a backpacker, you have to take opportunities like this to stuff yourself silly! There’s enough for seconds, as Robin especially finds out.
The meal is ended with a particular added bonus for this trip as it is a passenger’s birthday! Of course, this means a birthday cake complete with candles and, more importantly, big enough to share.
Kayaking to the light of the moon
Feeling stuffed and merry, the group is now ready for a spot of night kayaking to hopefully see some bioluminescent algae! Because the moon is lighting up the sky, Richard warns that we might not see them tonight, but it’s always fun to jump in a kayak at night anyway. Even if the moon is out, we get an awesome viewing of the stars behind a dusting of clouds.
As Robin has a broken arm he will be chauffeured around by Richard in a double kayak, while Laura goes solo. The trip is split in two, so we go out with the first group onto the perfectly placid waters of the Bay of Islands. The moon reflects onto the water casting a stunning reflection and lighting the way. Although we can’t see any algae at the moment, Richard saves the day with some moon facts.
Magic sparks in the water
I can see them! one girl shouts from the shadows of the trees by the shore. We paddle our hearts out to go see. By stirring the water, we see the white sparkling of the phosphorescence – kind of like tiny fireworks. Putting our paddlers through the water looks like it is leaving magic behind! Usually, they would be a lot brighter on a darker night, but we are still pretty stoked to have seen them!
To be continued…
Back on the boat, it’s time to wind down with a game of pool, a drink at the bar, or huddled around by the fire. This is the point where people slowly sneak to bed (admittedly, us first because 365 Days of 365 Activities is pretty tiring). Nevertheless, we have more Rock adventures to enjoy tomorrow, so stick around!
Catching the sunset from our hostel balcony. Not bad, eh?
Why wouldn’t you? Get your eyes on these articles!
- Bay of Islands – Guide for Backpackers
- 11 Stunning Backpacker Cruises in New Zealand
- 10 Free or Cheap Things to do in Paihia
See you tomorrow!