Unfortunately on our first two sea days the weather wasn’t really in our favor, we had quite a lot of rain and clouds so we enjoyed the warmth of the solarium and the coolness of its pina coladas.
Our first port of call was Bay of Islands, where we were being tendered. That means that for some reason, usually because the boat is too big I assume, the ship can't dock on a pier but is anchored at some distance from the shore where then small (they seem small, but can actually carry around 200 persons) boats bring us from the ship to the shore. In this case the tenders were our lifeboats, so yes the image you had of lifeboats being rafts or anything, you can now erase from your grey masse, because they're quite big, sturdy and have an engine ;) The disadvantage of tendering is that it takes a little more time to get everyone ashore and back on board ofcourse but because Arno had a 'forbidden' drone on board that had to be picked up every time we left the ship, we usually got to skip the line! The tender brought us to shore where we were then taken to the city centre of Paihia with a shuttle bus.
As the shore excursions of Royal Caribbean itself are incredibly expensive we went on our own discovery tour to find ourselves a nice boat tour to the Hole in the Rock, one of the main sights in this area. For probably half or even 1/3rd of the price we found what we were looking for. The scenery on this boat tour on our way to the Hole in the Rock was absolutely gorgeous, the little bays and houses are completely what I always imagined New Zealand would be like.
The hole in the rock was exactly what its name entitles, yet the cool but unexpected thing was that our little boat went through it. Our captain hadn't warned us, so suddenly we were in this hole nearly falling down, all on top of each other because it was incredibly rocky, I couldn't even take a photo so after the 5th toe I stepped on I just gave up and sat down. Smartest decision of that day. The funny thing though is that a couple of hours later when we were showering in our room we noticed that we were cruising right passed the Hole in the Rock again! :)
After the boat tour we grabbed ourselves a drink as the queue for our shuttle buses was insane, good tip btw; if there's a line, always grab a drink first because afterwards the line was completely gone and we could just jump on the first shuttle bus that arrived!
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We really enjoyed this day! Conclusion of our first glimpse of New Zealand? We want to come back!