Bay of Islands Hidden Gem… Urupukapuka Island

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It’s no secret, I love New Zealand, and I am quite partial to the Far North.

Picture a secluded island. Stunning views of blue-green water with islands sprinkled amongst it. The sun glistens and shimmers effortlessly.  Then add nightlife. Drinks. Dancing. Great friends. Amazing, right?!
One place that I have recently rekindled my first initial love with, is Urupukapuka Island, one of the 144 Islands in the beautiful Bay of Islands. The first time I unknowingly went to Urupukapuka Island, was with the Explore NZ Dolphin Discoveries day trip, where, when conditions are right you’re able to swim with the dolphins. Conditions weren’t right for me in July 2009 when I first explored the Bay of Islands, on my first solo backpacking endeavour.   As part of the tour, we docked up and were release for a short period to explore.

I don’t recall there being any sort of restaurant or  facilities there, but the views were stunning.  Here are some photos from that trip.

Otehi Bay, Urupukapuka Island
Arriving at Otehei Bay
Urupukapuka Island wharf
Entrance to Urupukapuka Island – Harae Mai!
reflecting on Urupukapuka Island wharf
Getting artsy with the self timer before exploring
urupukapuka island hill
“The view is worth the climb” – Tim Finn
bay of islands
Sample of the islands
Canuckiwikate on urupukapuka island
Myself and some of the islands <3
Fast forwards 2ish years. Now that I live in Kaitaia, the Bay of Islands is a solid hours drive, and a popular destination for a nighttime adventure with a little more action than Kaitaia could ever offer. Some of my girl friends had heard about a free concert going on, on Urupukapuka Island on Friday the 13th and arranged a trip.  We had some wines and gins in the Captiva on the way there, found Jimmy Jacks Rib Shack and snacked up on some tasty platters before boarding the Explore NZ ferry at 6.30pm. Our team of 7 took over this boat!  There were 2 male passengers, and 2 male staff to deal with our antics. The ride was only about a half hour and quite enjoyable as we sat on the front.
As we docked, I got that weird déjà-vu feeling as I realised this was the same place I’d been on the Dolphin Cruise, Otehei Bay. Now with a fully kitted out bar (of which we took full advantage of), they hosted “Kiwi Rock Band”, who played heaps of covers of popular New Zealand songs.  We had a ball dancing on the grass, rocking out, and catching up.
urupukapuka island welcome sign
Deju – vu! Here again, new and improved
urupukapuka island restaurant and bar
A beautiful new addition
Great friends, great times!
Dancing the night away to kiwi classics
“The Gang!” plus our new German mate..
and randoms crashing the photo ;)
If you ever find yourself in the Bay of Islands, I’d recommend doing a Dolphin Discovery Tour or the Hole in the Rock cruise, simply for the fact that you get to get out amongst the islands and see their true beauty! There’s so much more to Paihia and the Bay of Islands than meets the eye (i.e. the main street and backpacker bars).
Have you explored the Bay of Islands?
What is your favourite ‘little known hotspot’?
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