The per­fect day on the wa­ter

A trip with Zigzag Char­ters proved the ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time.

Go Travel New Zealand - - Northland -

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?

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