The perfect day on the water
A trip with Zigzag Charters proved the experience of a lifetime.
We had booked a six hour lunch cruise in the Bay of Islands on Zigzag Charters. Our departure was from Paihia wharf and we watched with excitement as the vessel Zigzag pulled up to the wharf. At 63-foot long and 30-foot wide, the Zigzag was huge! We were welcomed on board by Natissa and Gordon, a husband and wife team who were very friendly. Today, there were 28 of us on board and the weather was warm and sunny. As we motored out of Paihia, Natissa gave us a quick run down of the rules on the boat. She then outlined a little bit about our tour and where we would go. We were told to treat the boat as ours and relax and enjoy ourselves. As we headed towards our first Island stopover, Natissa (who is a local from Russell) and Gordon (the skipper) would share local knowledge and history about the bay. They were also very informative about the marine life and their passion to preserve it.
Our first Island stopover was Motuarohia. We were encouraged to walk to the top for the most spectacular views of the islands and the twin lagoons. It was definitely worth it. Some people chose to stay on the boat and others swum ashore as the weather was so lovely. As we headed towards the second island stopover, we were told funny and enlightening stories and got to see dolphins. Little blue penguins were out in the water and we even saw stingrays. Natissa and Gordon are extremely passionate about the marine wildlife in the Bay of Islands and were full of information when we were approached by a pod of bottle nose dolphins. The dolphins seemed to love the bulbous bows on the boat and it really looked like they were massaging themselves. This certainly put a smile on my face and everyone around me, too. On our way to our second island stopover, we came across a little blue penguin (known as korora). It is an endangered species and the smallest flightless bird in the world. This really was a special trip. The second Island was as beautiful as the first and this is where we were able to snorkel in the clear water and feed the fish, swim, walk on the beach and relax. We stopped for lunch at our final destination on Waewaetorea Island. The water was so clear you could see the bottom. We were encouraged to jump off the front of the boat and enjoy the sea. We even got to taste what Natissa calls kiwi caviar: Sea urchin, which was rich, salty and a challenge. Some people chose to walk to the top of the hill where once again there were fabulous views of the Islands in front and behind us. Project Island birdsong was a conservation topic that Gordon and Natissa spoke highly of. The group has introduced species of rare New Zealand native birds back onto the islands with resounding success. While wandering around, I saw dotterills, oyster catchers and fantails (piwakawaka). Eventually, we had to return home but with stomachs full and everyone smiling it was a lovely trip back, where Gordon turned the motors off, hoisted the sails and we listened to the sound of the ocean. I would have to say this really was an experience of a lifetime from beginning to end. The atmosphere was casual and it felt like we were having a day out with friends. Beautiful food, beautiful scenery and fabulous hosts. It was the perfect day. What more could you want?