Head out into the sheltered Bay of Islands to experience Matariki rising at dawn!

Our on-board guides and tohunga will tell you about the traditions behind this significant event in Aotearoa, what it means to Te Ao Māori and how to identify Puanga and the Matariki cluster rising in the Eastern sky.

Matariki is a cluster of stars which is visible in the Eastern sky from mid-Winter. Iwi in parts of our Far North rohe (region) also celebrate Puanga, which is the star Rigel in the Orion constellation, as it was difficult to see Matariki from their locality.

Traditionally the reappearance of Puanga followed by Matariki heralded the Māori New Year, Te Tau Hou Māori.

Karakia – ‘incantations’ – are said to honour the rising of Matariki and to celebrate the New Year. The various stars in the Matariki cluster are associated with different environmental domains: earth, sky, fresh water, salt water, rain and wind.

There is also a star that is connected to those who have passed during the year and another that is connected to our wishes.
After time out on the water, the boat will head to the stunning Urupukapuka Island where you will enjoy a delicious light breakfast at Otehei Bay.

The boat will return to Russell and Paihia at approximately 9am or you can opt to remain on the island for a conservation walk or explore at your leisure. The next departure to the mainland will be at 1.45pm.



Paihia or Russell Wharf


5.15AM – 9.15AM

Adults $99 + booking fee
Kids (14 and under) $49.50 + booking fee
Infants (4 and under) FREE

Cruise includes
• 3.5hr boat trip to the inner islands of the Bay
• On board guide / tohunga
• Complimentary coffee, tea or hot chocolate on board
• Breakfast at Otehei Bay, Urupukapuka Island

Choice of:

Cooked Breakfast of bacon, eggs, beans and toast plus urn Tea and Coffee
Continental Breakfast of Granola , Toast , Fruit Salad plus urn Tea and Coffee

Please ensure you book from your preferred departure point, Paihia Wharf or Kororareka (Russell) Wharf



  • This cruise departs before dawn! Departure times are 5.15am from Paihia Wharf and at 5.20am from Russell Wharf. Please be at the wharf 10mins before your stated departure time
  • It will be dark when we depart, please take care on the wharf and keep children safe
  • It is Winter, wear warm clothing
  • Boat returns at dawn to Kororareka (Russell) and Paihia Wharves, arriving approx. 9am Russell and 9.15am Paihia.
  • A light breakfast is included in this tour (Continental style or bacon and eggs). Please note we do not include a breakfast for infants.
  • We can’t control the weather and visibility. In the case of weather preventing the cruise operating ticket-holders will be offered an alternative date or a refund if you are unable to make the alternative date.
  • Suitable for families
  • Boat numbers are strictly limited

The MATARIKI DAWN CRUISE is operated by Explore Group