The Bay of Islands – North Island, New Zealand

In the Wake of Captain Cook

Off the irregular coast of New Zealand’s North Island, more than 150 smaller islands of varying size hopscotch across the deep blue waters, their tall Norfolk pines growing side by side with subtropical banana plants and fan palms in an ideal climate that adds to the bay’s allure as a recreational playground.

The area is world-famous for big- game fishing – author Zane Grey, a leading sportsman of his time, caught as many as five marlin here in a single day, including a 450-pound world-record striped marlin. (Grey’s Hemingwayesque Tales of the Angler’s Eldorado, New Zealand was instrumental in establishing the bay as a game-fishing hotspot.) But the fishing-averse can have their own adventure, experiencing the Bay of Islands as Captain James Cook did, with the wind in your hair and the flapping of sails overhead as you slip past hundreds of hidden coves and secret beaches aboard the schooner R. Tucker Thompson.

Alternatively, a 70-foot private char­ter boat like the ultra-stylish Sirdar can take you to an island all your own. For a trophy-size marlin to go with it, call on veteran fish­ing personality Dudley Smith, skipper and owner of the 32-foot Triple B.

For accommodations on shore, reserve one of the five rooms at the grand Kimberley Lodge, whose million-dollar views are reason enough to stay, with other luxury amenities just the icing on the cake. Native New Zealand materials were used throughout, with a crafts­manship and attention to detail that belie the lodge’s relatively recent construction.

Let the gracious innkeepers chart a roster of activities to keep you busy, or just amble down to the charming historic town of Russell, formerly a rowdy whaling port and New Zealand’s first capital, with wooden-facade colonial buildings lining its picturesque waterfront. Linger at Sally’s Café for tea and scones and the daily newspaper, or join the yachting fraternity on the veranda of the venerable old Duke of Marlborough Hotel for a sundowner (the hotel held the country’s first liquor license).

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