Day 4 - We arrived in Bay of Islands about 9.30am, and the tenders started running just before 10am. We knew what we were doing so we were in no hurry to rush off. We had our tea and croissants on the balcony watching the passing islands as we came into the bay, then we went upstairs to the Windjammer for cooked breakfast. After breakfast, about 10.30am, we went and got our tender tickets and waited until 12.45pm to get off the ship. Priority is given to guests that have booked tours through the ship and of course suite guests, but really more tenders were needed to off load the large amount of people on board. We visited Bay of Islands a little over a year ago on Celebrity Solstice, and they were using tenders and lifeboats to transport guests, and although we there was a queue, the wait was only about 15mins. We have visited Bay of Islands many times in the past, the last being last October (2016, -read a little about the history here), and we visited many of the same places this time also.
So after waiting over 90 minutes for a tender from the ship to Waitangi, we arrived and got straight on a shuttle bus to Piahia. Luckily the local people knew to put on enough buses for the ship passengers. We planned on going to Russell again and knew the process of getting to there. Russell was the original capital of New Zealand. We purchased our ferry tickets, $12.50NZ each return, and after a short queue we were on our way to Russell. This is the view of Radiance from the ferry.
We walked along The Esplanade to Pompellier House, past the museum and the arts and craft market, and then up to the old church with the bullet holes and the lovely tapestry cushions. We walked past the shops and back down to The Esplanade to the old police station and the huge Moreton Bay fig.
We caught the smaller 'Happy Ferry' back to Piahia and had a walk around the markets, with a stop at the library and the free wi-fi – still very slow and hit and miss.
There is a really good ice-cream shop in the main street - New Zealand ice-cream is the creamiest ice-cream we have ever tasted. Bay of Islands is made up of 144 islands, ranging from small rocky outcrops to small islands. It was named by Captain Cook in 1769. A little further around the bay at Piahia is an old church that is worth a visit.
On return to the ship a Great Adventures tour boat had been utilised to ferry guests back to the ship.