Monday, June 28, 2010

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

ALMOST ninety years ago an adventurer who was also one of the world's most popular authors rounded the headland of Cape Brett in what has been termed "the edge of the world", dolphins leaping through the crystal bow wave as he sailed past fabulous tropical islands, reports the informative website "Bay of Islands - All About The Bay". Zane Grey, whose tales of the Wild West have captivated millions of readers, was enthralled as he gazed at the beauty and spectacular scenery of the Bay of Islands, near the remote northernmost tip of New Zealand.

Stepping onto a sun-bleached jetty, he looked across the golden sand of a bay curving out into the sparkling South Pacific Ocean, all thoughts of the West put aside. Little has changed since he first rounded Cape Brett.

Zane wrote about the white sand beaches of the Bay stretching around a stunning coastline to Kerikeri, the artist's town with its wineries, where he liked to relax with a bottle of the local Sauvignon Blanc. He would wander through orange and grapefruit orchards, or follow the four-kilometre river track leading to the thundering cascade of Rainbow Falls.

On those long evenings, he must have wondered at the beauty of the dolphins at play.  Dolphins that today take equal delight in playing with swimmers wanting to get nearer to these intelligent and highly sociable creatures.

Likely too, he would have watched the antics of the Blue Penguins and the Gannets, whilst marvelling at whales surfacing far out amongst the Bay's some 150 islands - many of which remain relatively unexplored. And, around the Poor Knights Islands that he would have undoubtedly known, there is diving that Jacques Cousteau rated as amongst the very best in the world, with an abundance of marine wildlife including Manta Rays and Killer Whales. There are over one hundred fine dive sites around the Bay area, with corals, rocky coastlines, and wrecks to explore. Even if you're not a diving or fishing fanatic, you can still make your way out to the islands - go for a sailing trip, charter a yacht, or rent a canoe.

Visit Bay of Islands for more information and to book accommodation and activities.

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