The Rock: take an overnight cruise in New Zealand

The Rock – an interesting name, especially in the Bay of Islands where the ‘Hole in the Rock’ is a destination for boat trips from Paihia.

This ‘rock’ is a boat: originally a car ferry that carried 7 or 9 vehicles and it’s now been converted to a Hosteling International (YHA) hostel and I’ve joined a group for an overnight cruise in the beautiful Bay of Islands (Northland, New Zealand).

We’re picked up at 4pm at the Paihia wharf and with life-jackets on; we’re taken out to the flat-bottomed boat. It’s not long before we have had our rooms assigned, safety briefing given and we have target practice – note, don’t rely on me to feed or protect you with a weapon!

However, I can catch a fish (snapper) but it’s too small and has to be released, although the next day I manage to get some edible kina (sea eggs) which I love and the international tourists eat with trepidation.

So, this boat is not merely for transport around the Bay of Islands, but is our accommodation too. All the rooms are on the top level and my room overlooks the bow (front) of the old barge and as the boat is flat-bottomed there is very little movement unless a boat goes past.

Adam, the Skipper has a job like mine “A millionaire’s lifestyle on a poor man’s wage”. He’s an accomplished pianist and after dinner, as we head for bed he’s tinkling away at the ivories.  A piano on board was not anything I expected!

The next day we are kayaking, snorkelling, hiking, and exploring the area. Our meals are at a long table and are delicious. Perhaps this is the only floating YHA hostel in the world:  let me know if you are aware of others.

I found this overnight cruise (online) many months before my Northland trip (I spent 2 weeks exploring the area in a low-cost rental car from NZ Rentals) and this was the first activity, and accommodation, on my agenda – a good choice. Watch this  four-minute video created by my mates at ONZAMAP. (Check out their other travel info videos too)

Just some of the comments in the visitor’s book say:

  • Our second time on The Rock and you still rock! (UK couple)
  • You guys are amazing (German)
  • F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C.

Enjoy a few of my photos from my time on board – the time flew and yet seemed ages all at the same time. Fabulous, I can recommend The Rock – in fact I must do a  review on Trip Advisor about it.

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I’m scared of heights – so why parasail?

I’m not an adrenaline junkie – in fact I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat about some things – like heights .

However, somehow the words on the brochure – ‘gentle lift-off and landing” – lulled me into ignoring the next sentence.  It included these words – New Zealand’s highest’!

The Flying Kiwi Parasail delivered on their promises:

  • Breath-taking views – check!
  • Gentle lift-off – check!
  • No need to get wet – check!
  • Gentle landing – check!
  • Single, double or triple flights – check!

I was on a single flight and I’m not sure it that made it easier or scarier, I just knew when I did the ‘gentle and dry landing’ part I was really happy to be down and happy to have parasailed on NZ’s highest. I also knew I would never do it again! Maybe! (I’ve learn’t to never say never)

I was SOOOOOOOO high.  Higher than Auckland’s Sky tower – not the level where adventurous people jump from – but the very top of lt. And, when you are up there, alone, and scared of heights it’s very, very high. My daughter would love it and no doubt most travellers, and other kiwi, would love to be able to say “I did New Zealand’s highest parasail

So how high was I? About 365 metres, or 1200 feet!  And, how high is the Sky Tower, a mere 328 metres – 1076.1 ft.  No wonder I stopped taking photos – I needed to hang on, grasp the reins and worry.

Worry that the ropes were safe; worry that my canvas seat would take the weight of my body; worry so much I needed to talk to myself.

“Look around Heather. You will never see this view again. Look at the cruise ship and NZ Navy ship. Enjoy the view” my head was saying, “There’s Russell over there’  ‘That’s Paihia that way’; ‘I can see the Treaty Grounds.’

While this chatter was happening in my head,  out of my non-religious mouth flowed words in a chant or prayer I’ve never said before.

“Holy, holy, holy.” “ Holy, holy, sh*t”  “Holy, holy, f*ck”

 

Once I landed back on the boat I was elated: I’d done it.

However, back on land I was still shaking 30 mins later when I rang my daughter (who was having an adventure-filled weekend in Rotorua) and, just when I needed to talk it went straight to her answer phone.

My voice was still gone (missing in action for 3-days) and when she laughingly replayed the message back to me in the comfort of a Wellington café I too had to laugh at my shaking, croaking, drama queenwords:

Ohmigod I’ve done it!  As you can hear, my voice is still gone but by god, my body is full of adrenaline. It was so f’ing scary! But I did it! Single! By myself! All alone, way up there, above the sky tower height. Ok, talk to you later, bye.”

A drama queen indeed – she easily worked it out I was not twin or treble parasailing! Would I recommend the Flying Kiwi Parasail? – of course. (And, you don’t have to go as high as I did!)

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As you see,  I didn’t find my voice up among the  clouds: I return to my rental car ready to continue my Northland trip –  maybe it’s on The Rock where I’m sleeping tonight. ( I wonder, is this the only float Hostelling International hostel in the world? Let me know.

Northland, New Zealand–what a great road trip (water too)

The Rock Overnight cruise was fabulous: it’s not often the same place that has your accommodation, also takes you hiking, fishing, canoeing, target shooting, snorkelling, has a skipper who lulls you to sleep with great piano playing, another plays the guitar, and Keiko who cooks tasty porridge and is full of good humour al all times – the list goes on. they were all great and I would recommend them wholeheartedly!

The Rock just maybe the BEST YHA in the world! (FYI I’m a gold-card member of that organisation)

I have just booked into The Pickled Parrot in Paihia – a small personal BBH hostel set in subtropical gardens and tonight I’m off to the  Waitangi Treaty Grounds the annual free music concert which sets off the public holiday that marks the commemoration of the signing of New Zealand’s founding document – signed between the Maori tribes and the then Queen of England in 1840

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The Rock at anchor at Roberton Island

Many thanks to Destination Northland for helping with my itinerary and Rental Cars New Zealand for the vehicle for this road trip:

I can recommend both as car and the travel plans are working perfectly Smile

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