Bay of Islands Northland

The Best of the Bay of Islands – An Adventure Cruise You Can’t Miss!

August 2, 2021

Located in Paihia, The Rock offer an amazing adventure cruise for the young and young-at-heart.  We joined them earlier in the year and really believe this to be a must-do experience in New Zealand.

Join us as we share details of the many (and I mean many) inclusions on-board The Rock and prepare to re-think your New Zealand holiday plans – after reading our review, we have no doubt you’ll be headed for the beautiful Bay of Islands!

BOOK: Save on your Rock booking thanks to NZTT!

The Rock Adventure Cruise: A Must-Do in the Bay of Islands

What Is The Rock?

The Rock is an almost-all-inclusive adventure cruise.

Departing from Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, The Rock is actually New Zealand’s largest houseboat.  It used to operate as a car ferry but was converted over and now provides a home away from home for travellers from all around the world.

On-board you’ll be provided with hearty meals, a wide selection of entertainment and activities, a comfortable lounge area, your choice of private and shared rooms and of course, fully functioning bathrooms.

Everything you need is provided onboard within the price of your ticket, but those few optional extras (like wine and snacks) are available at affordable prices (or you can bring your own snacks aboard).

With top notch service (delivered in a relaxed manner) it does feel as if you arrive strangers and depart friends.

Whilst on-board with the team, you can choose to be as active or relaxed on The Rock as you please – the choice really is yours.

Who Is The Rock Suited To?

The Rock really is a must-do for everyone travelling to Paihia!

From adventurers to sun-seekers, youngsters to the more mature amongst us, they really do offer something to suit everyone on-board.

All of the activities on-board are optional and many of them can be adapted to suit which means guests can be as involved (or relaxed) as they like.

We especially recommend the following people book The Rock:

  • Solo travellers and couples looking to connect with other like-minded people.
  • Groups of friends – with activities, wine and plenty of sun, this is the perfect backdrop for serious fun on the water!
  • Extended family groups.  Why not make memories to last a lifetime amongst the paradise of Northland?

If you have an adventurous spirit and are excited to see the best of New Zealand, you really can’t go wrong though.

What to Expect On-Board The Rock Adventure Cruise

Your ticket on-board The Rock includes a whole lot of extras – from food to activities, it’s almost all covered.

To help you plan your trip, we’ve shared all of the inclusions below…

Activities on The Rock

From the moment you climb on The Rock your adventure starts!

Each of the following activities are included in your sailing.

However, it’s entirely up to you how many you choose to participate in – whether you enjoy everything or pick and choose, the call is yours.

Test Your Aim Whilst on the Move

With environmentally friendly paintballs (we checked because looking after our marine environment is top-priority), visitors take on target practice on the move!

As you motor away from Paihia, you’ll have the chance to take your best shot at Lee the duck.

It’s a fun way to break the ice with the other guests on-board (and there’s a prize for the winner too).

Ready, set, aim!

Cast a Line and Catch Your Dinner

With the sun slowly setting behind you, it’ll be time to grab a line and catch your dinner (or at least try).

If you’ve never been fishing before, there’s no need to worry – the crew will be ready and willing to help.  From baiting your line to helping get your catch off at the end, they’re happy to support.

For those that have been fishing before, you’ll also be given the opportunity to do what you do best and just go for it.

This really is fishing fun for everyone!

Take a Dip

You’ll be given the opportunity to swim off the back of the boat a number of times whilst on-board but it really is impossible to resist doing so as the sun goes down at the end of the day.

Whether you want to practise your bombs and dives off the back of the boat or just want to slide on in, a mid-trip swim should be top of your list.

Kayak Amongst the Bioluminescence

When the sun’s long gone for the day, the magic really begins!

As a guest on-board The Rock, you’ll be invited to jump into a kayak before paddling away from the boat.

There, in the still of night, you’ll find incredible bioluminescence in the water.

This was one of the main highlights aboard for us – to watch the bioluminescence dart around like shining stars in the ocean is pure magic!

Head to the Hills for Amazing Views

On the second day of your adventure, you’ll all head ashore to enjoy one of the many islands.

After all, they don’t call this region the Bay of Islands for nothing.

Once you’ve climbed up to the top of the hill, you’ll be rewarded with the more incredible views out over the surrounding bays.

This totally-manageable walk was stunning, making it a real highlight of our time on-board The Rock.

Enjoy Some Time on the Beach

Once you’ve completed your walk you’ll have plenty of time to relax down on the beach.

Complete with a sandy, sheltered bay, grass bank and trees to provide shade, this is a relaxed way to spend the afternoon.

… And when it gets too hot in the sun, you’ll be perfectly positioned for a quick dip.

Kayak or SUP? The Choice is Yours

Whether you jump on a standup paddle board or kayak as a means of transport (it’s the perfect way to get ashore) or grab one to test your skills out closer to shore, the gear will be available to you.

Whichever you choose, this is the perfect way to get out on the water to enjoy the cool ocean breeze.

Jump in and Go Snorkelling

The crew onboard The Rock carry all of the equipment required for an amazing time on the water – snorkelling gear included!

The water up North is relatively warm, making a morning dip practically irresistible.

If you’re keen, the crew will even teach you how to dive down to collect kina (a real delicacy in New Zealand.)

Taste Local Kaimoana

Regardless of whether you dive for them or the crew does, everyone will be invited to try kina, caught fresh off the back of the boat.

Your hosts will teach you about the place of kina in New Zealand, explain how to catch and prepare them and then offer a taste up to all that are keen.

Are you brave enough to try this taonga (treasure)?

Get Stuck into a Game

In between all of the exciting activities on offer you’ll also find the time to sit back and relax.

If you’re an active relaxer, there are plenty of options on-board including pool, board games and brain-benders.

Whether you play with an old friend or a new one, there are plenty of games on The Rock to keep you entertained.

Toast an Amazing Trip on the Water

With so many amazing activities on-board, you’d be forgiven for thinking this trip is all go-go-go.

Fortunately though, with 22-hours on The Rock, you’ll be able to participate in everything (should you choose) and still find time to sit back and relax with your mates (wine totally optional).

Kai Time – Food On-Board

With so many amazing activities included on The Rock, you’re sure to work up an appetite!

Fortunately there’s plenty of delicious, hearty food on-board to fuel your motor.

All meals are served buffet style, with more than enough to go around.  Seconds (and thirds, if you’re hungry) are welcomed and a variety of different food requests can be catered too – just be sure to let them know in advance.


Whether you’re travelling north with family, friends or even solo, The Rock should be top of your list.

It’s the perfect combination of kiwi hospitality, natural beauty and fun…

We must warn you though – once is never enough!

BOOK: Save on your Rock booking thanks to NZTT!


Thank you to the team at The Rock for having us aboard on a complimentary basis for the purpose of this review.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

You Might Also Like

2 Comments

  • Reply Stuart Fahy October 3, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    I spent a night on The Rock on my last visit to New Zealand. It was such a fun experience and I’d love to do it again the next time I’m in Paihia.

  • Reply Sneha Choudhury June 10, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    This sounds so much fun! Especially the Kayak Amongst the Bioluminescence.

  • Leave a Reply