Islands of the Hauraki Gulf: Expedition Cruising the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Islands

Islands of the Hauraki Gulf: Expedition Cruising the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Islands

From NZD $5,775


Explore the famed islands and coastlines of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and Bay of Islands as we delve into the region’s early New Zealand history, visit island sanctuaries where native wildlife flourishes, and learn about the region’s conservation success stories and on going efforts on this 8-day expedition of Northland.

Spanning 1.2 million hectares of scenic glittering ocean between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, five marine reserves and more than 50 islands, the Hauraki Gulf is a veritable aquatic wonderland and lays claim to having some of the country’s most beautiful beaches and hidden coves, perfect for exploration by kayak.

The union of three channels, Colville, Cradock and Jellicoe, connect Hauraki Gulf with the Pacific Ocean putting it on the ‘whale super highway’ with almost a third of the world’s marine mammal species living in or visiting the marine park with Orca, Bryde’s Whales and Bottlenose and Common Dolphins regularly observed here.

Below the surface, numerous conservation efforts are underway to help restore the balance to the Gulf which is still recovering from industrialised overfishing and the impacts of the surrounding farming.

The island hopping and national history continues in the subtropical haven of the sheltered waters of the Bay of Islands. Once a raucous seafaring centre with a wild past, this now low-key stretch of paradise is widely regarded as the berth place of the nation and aptly named with some 144 islands ranging from rugged outcrops through to impressive oases.

Experience some of the country’s greatest conservation success stories in action and explore remote, forgotten island paradises by foot, kayak and our luxurious expedition yacht Heritage Explorer as we sail through the Islands of the Hauraki Gulf.

Trip Name
Islands of the Hauraki Gulf: Expedition Cruising the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Islands
Vessel Type: Expedition Yacht Length: 30 metres Passenger Capacity: 18 Built: 2004 New Zealand-built expedition yacht Heritage Explorer joins Heritage Expedition's small ship fleet creating new opportunities of discovery around the shores of New Zealand. Setting a new standard for discovery travel in New Zealand, Heritage Explorer combines the ultimate in comfort with unique itineraries and a personalised experience with a maximum of just 18 guests on board.Heritage Explorer is a 30-metre, 4-deck New Zealand flagged vessel built in 2004 by the renowned wooden boat building family Carey's Boatyard in Picton. It features a contemporary wood-finished interior, 10 well-appointed cabins across three decks, dining room boasting spectacular 180-degree panoramas and theatre capabilities; lounge and bar featuring a flight of inclusive regional New Zealand wines, beers and spirits; and a well-stocked local library. Outside, guests can enjoy plenty of covered space on the Bridge Deck, or ajourn to the Sun Deck perfect for wildlife spotting, sunrises and sunsets, or simply enjoying watch your voyage unfold. Kayaks and fishing equipment are available for use during the voyage, while two tenders allow for deeper exploration and the unforgettable wildlife encounters synonymous with all Heritage Expeditions adventures. As with as with our other vessels, Heritage Explorer will have an open bridge policy and a full commercial kitchen helmed by a talented chef focused on highlighting local produce and any guest catches of the day, as well as an enthusiastic and passionate expedition team, and will be shipped by a New Zealand captain and crew. The expedition yacht features state-of-the-art technology to provide a comfortable expedition with high performance dual Scania 653 horsepower engines, bow thrusters, fin stabilisers, full air-conditioning, sound attenuated twin generators and a hydraulic aft ramp, while a comprehensive navigation package ensures the ultimate Kiwi adventure awaits all guests. Accommodation Details Royal: Located on the Bridge Deck, our Master Suite features a spacious bedroom with a queen-sized bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, mirror and washbasin, private en suite, personal climate control, TV, PABX satellite telephone, window and French doors opening out on to the covered Bridge Deck.Salvin's: Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin's cabins have the option of either a double bed or two lower berths. Both feature ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a picture porthole. Wandering: Located on the Lower Deck, Wandering cabins feature one lower single berth, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole. Buller's: Located on the Lower Deck, the Buller's cabin features one bunk (one upper and one lower berth), ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.


Day 1 - Day 1: Auckland
Join Heritage Explorer, your home away from home, in Auckland this afternoon where your Captain and Expedition Leader will be waiting to welcome you on board (times will be confirmed with your voyage documents). When all are aboard, we will set sail from Auckland through the Hauraki Gulf to our anchorage for the night as our adventure begins.
Day 2 - Day 2: Tiritiri Matangi & Great Barrier Islands
Plan to rise early this morning for a landing on the world renowned Tiritiri Matangi Island – one of the country’s most successful conservation projects. Once completely cleared of forest, the island has been revegetated and rejuvenated thanks the tireless efforts of volunteers planting around 300,000 native trees between 1984 and 1994. Now home to 11 species of threatened native birds in addition to more common species, be on the lookout for Saddleback, Kokako, Stitchbird, Brown Teal and Takahe among others. During lunch we cross the Hauraki Gulf sailing towards Great Barrier Island, during this time guests will benefit from being out on the deck as whales and dolphins are regularly seen in these waters. Arriving at Great Barrier Island Heritage Explorer will navigate to the sheltered waters of Port Fitzroy where there will be time to take the kayaks for a paddle, head ashore by Zodiac or perhaps even spend some time fishing with the Captain.
Day 3 - Day 3: Great Barrier Island
Today we have a full day dedicated to exploring Great Barrier Island. Existing entirely off grid through solar power and rainwater collection, 60 per cent of the island’s 285 kilometres is public land managed by the Department of Conservation where spectacular towering cliffs meet white surf beaches, wetlands, fiords and bays home to Spotless Crake, Fernbird, Brown Teal, Banded Rail, North Island Kaka and more than 13 species of lizard including the Chevron Skink. For the more active there are forest walks to explore, while those preferring to stay on, or near, the water there is the opportunity to take out the kayaks or join a Zodiac safari. If conditions are favourable, there may be an opportunity to visit Arid Island – one of the most beautiful, remote and rarely visited outer islands in the Gulf.
Day 4 - Day 4: Mokohinau, Hen & Chickens Islands & Whangaruru
An exploration of the outer islands of the Hauraki Gulf starts early this morning as we sail over to the archipelago of predator free Mokohinau Islands. The size of these tiny islands and outcrops, positioned uniquely at the edge of the continental shelf, belie their importance as a refuge for some of New Zealand’s most endangered species found nowhere else on the planet. Continuing northwards there is the option to set our course, depending on the prevailing conditions, to either the Hen and Chickens Islands or Poor Knights Islands. Both of these island groups have been vitally important in the story of New Zealand conservation and we will delve into this history today as well as marvel at the abundance of life both above and below the water on these remarkable island outposts.
Day 5 - Day 5: Whangamumu Harbour & Cape Brett
This morning we plan to visit the old whaling station at Whangamumu Harbour, this beautifully protected cove to the south of the Bay of Islands hides a dark past as the site of one of the earliest European whaling bases in New Zealand. The only whaling station in the world which caught whales with nets, Whangamumu was Northland’s longest running and most successful whaling station operating from the 1800s to early 1900s. The beautiful scenery continues as Heritage Explorer sails northwards past spectacular Cape Brett and the iconic Hole in the Rock at Piercy Island. The more adventurous on board may wish to take the opportunity to walk some of the Cape Brett Lighthouse Walk, the exertion rewarded by stunning coastal scenery.
Day 6 - Day 6: Whangaroa Harbour & Cavalli Islands
Wake this morning to the breath-catching scenery of Whangaroa Harbour. North of the Bay of Islands, this dramatic harbour is defined by both its narrow entrance, gravity defying volcanic spires, sheltered bays and tranquil sandy beaches. Head out on the water and explore by kayak or Zodiac, or head ashore and enjoy a morning hike to one of the vantage points that provide epic panoramas over these unforgettable surrounds. We then sail to the Cavalli Islands where there is the opportunity to explore nature reserve and diving hotspot Motukawanui Island. Swimming and snorkelling opportunities abound, explore powdery white sand beaches or tackle the Island track along the ridge of the island where spectacular views over the forest-clad coastline and scattered islands await.
Day 7 - Day 7: Bay of Islands
We have the whole day set aside to explore and enjoy the Bay of Islands. Opportunities include exploring predator free Urupukapuka Island fringed by Pohutukawa forest, where Project Island Song has successfully released North Island Robin, Saddleback and Whitehead, and the dramatic, unrestrained beauty of Roberton Island which is also rich in New Zealand history. Later in the day there is an opportunity to explore historic Russell, a town of New Zealand firsts including first seaport, European settlement, capital and licensed hotel. Perhaps enjoy a drink at the iconic The Duke of Marlborough and brace yourself for one of Russell’s famed sunsets.
Day 8 - Day 8: Paihia/Auckland
Following breakfast and final farewells we head ashore at Paihia where there is the opportunity for you to stay and spend some additional time or join our complimentary shuttle transfer to Auckland. We expect to arrive in central Auckland around 12 noon this afternoon. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.
Day 9 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
07-01-202214-01-2022NZD $5,775Buller's
07-01-202214-01-2022NZD $6,475Salvin's
07-01-202214-01-2022NZD $6,825Wandering
07-01-202214-01-2022NZD $7,995Royal
14-01-202221-01-2022NZD $5,775Buller's
14-01-202221-01-2022NZD $6,475Salvin's
14-01-202221-01-2022NZD $6,825Wandering
14-01-202221-01-2022NZD $7,995Royal
12-03-202219-03-2022NZD $6,825Wandering
12-03-202219-03-2022NZD $7,995Royal
12-03-202219-03-2022NZD $5,775Buller's
12-03-202219-03-2022NZD $6,475Salvin's


    • Enjoy Tiritiri Matangi & Great Barrier Islands
    • Visit Mokohinau, Hen & Chickens Islands & Whangaruru
    • Travel to Whangamumu Harbour & Cape Brett
    • Discover Bay of Islands