First, a quick story before the story.
Our day started when we woke up and realized that our car wouldn't start. Uh oh. After awhile, we determined that the battery was dead because a light was left on. Oops. So we popped the hood and stood there looking helpless till this guy in a truck came to our rescue. Totally cliche. After we got it started, he told us we needed to drive around for 45 minutes to charge it. Great, no problem. Except we were in a small town and didn't have anywhere specific we wanted to go. So instead of driving in circles we actually stopped and picked up a hitchhiker. We offered to drive him at a half an hour or less in the direction he was hoping to go. There was a bit of a language barrier though, so despite our explanation of 'just needing to drive the car but don't need to go anywhere', I don't think he really understood what was going on. In the end we did help him out and gave him a ride to the next (slightly larger) town over. We were between Auckland and the northern tip of the north island in a town called Paihia, as shown on the map below.
Luckily, out of all the days of our roadtrip on the North Island, this was the only day where we weren't driving early in the morning, or really needing to drive at all, we had booked an overnight "Adventure Cruise" on a houseboat! We were to be picked up at 5, so we'd just planned on relaxing most of that day anyway.
You can see the houseboat waiting for us out in the harbour.
The Rock is a houseboat that runs sort of a floating hostel. At 5pm we were picked up from the dock and we had 22 hours on the boat, returning around 3pm the next day. In that short time we did tons of activities and because it's a small space, made friends with all those on board, only around 20 people including a couple crew members. By the time 3pm the next day came around I was ready to hide away on the boat!
When we got on the boat, we were introduced to the crew and got the tour of the place. There was everything from a bar and pool table, to a piano and guitars.
We were in a 6 bed room, with an awesome view. Every room on the boat has a view like this!
Our first activity as we headed out of the harbour involved a paintball gun and a plastic duck...yes that's right. They towed the duck, Matilda, behind the boat and everyone got 3 shots to try to hit it. The best shot got a free drink from the bar. Having never shot a paintball gun there really wasn't much hope for me, but it was certainly fun!
Next up was fishing. Pretty much everyone on board except myself grabbed a line and tried to catch some dinner.
I spent the time exploring the ship and enjoying the sunset.
Dinner was a mixture of bbq, salads, and pasta and everyone sat at one long table, chatting with their neighbors.
After dinner we got out the kayaks and took turns paddling out to see the phosphorescence which is always a lot of fun. The kayaks were sit on top though, so everyone got a little wet from paddling, so luckily there was a fire (a fire on a boat!) to warm up to when we got back.
Early morning risers were treated to a boatride ashore for a hike and a gorgeous sunrise view. I hate to admit I didn't make it up for this, I tried, I really did, but it wasn't happening. At least my camera made the journey though!
After breakfast we headed over to a good snorkeling spot, Mussel Rock, and everyone jumped in to see what they could see. There were wetsuits for hire, but I thought I could tough it out. Mistake. But it was still a lot of fun seeing fish I hadn't seen before.
We stopped at another island where we could kayak ashore, hike up to a viewpoint, and hang out at the beach some.
It was great exploring a bit around the Bay of Islands, they claim there's 144 Islands, though they count rocks in the water as islands. There's only 25 or so islands that you can actually get out and walk around on. Luckily we had gorgeous weather for it too!
Definately a highlight of our New Zealand trip, I'd recommend it to anyone looking to get out on the water and for something different!