Comfortable bus, although we miss having a pocket for our guide book and a tablet for our tea/coffee cup! Knowledgeable and pleasant driver, Polite and attentive. Although it is a long drive, the scenery along the way makes it worthwhile. As we cannot plan the weather well in advance, we chose the Russell Tour, not the cruise. It proved to be the right choice because those who were on the cruise had a miserable time. Pouring rain throughout!. We did not see much of the islands, but our time in Russell was most pleasant!. Was it worth 12 hours of driving from Auckland? Some will say yes, some will say no...It depends on what one is looking for...
Martha and Nathalie Blouin,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Bay of Islands is beautiful. The trip was wonderful in every respect. It was a long tour as it requires about 3 hrs each way to reach the Bay of Islands area. But Ben, our bus driver shared a nice commentary along the way and stopped for coffee and a restroom break at a nice bakery about half way on both outbound and return. Personally, I would recommend that visitors should consider traveling to Bay of Islands, then staying there for one or two nights and booking a return trip later. There is much to do at Bay of Islands and if you go only one day, then you have to choose. Most of our trip selected a harbor/ocean cruise to see dolphins and travel through Hole in the Rock. This is a bit chancy as dolphins do not always cooperate and a boat trip through the rock requires proper tide flows. We instead chose to visit Wakatangi Maori site beautiful harbor views and interesting NZ/Maori history and then take a short boat ride across the harbor to Russell. We took an excellent 1-hr tour around Russell. The bus was quite comfortable but the total 12 hour trip is long in any case. But overall, we were very satisfied. Outstanding weather, beautiful scenery, friendly attentive bus driver, comfortable bus.
We had a great full day trip to The Bay of Islands from Auckland with our driver/guide Ben. Ben had so much local knowledge but also had some fun facts, and if you like fishing, then Ben is your guy to talk everything fish with. Unfortunately on this tour, there was no wifi on the bus, but that was okay because Ben was easy to listen too, and we had a couple of stops along the way. The Waitangi Treaty was amazing, and Fuller do a wonderful job with their organization and ferries etc.
The ferry across to Russell is a must, and if you can, you should do the guided mini bus tour with John. John was very informative, seemed to know everyone, and everyone seemed to know him. Russell has many shops and a few restaurants but without the tour, I think Russell would be just like any other town. You need to tour to know what all of the places were and the history behind them.
It's a long day, but thank you Ben and John for your wonderful knowledge, and also the lovely talkative man at Waitangi sorry I can't remember his name for the great history lesson.