If you are looking to sail the open seas surrounding New Zealand, this article is well worth a read to ensure that you get the most out of your adventure. We’ll cover a range of topics starting with where you can find yachts for sale in New Zealand, handy hints & considerations to make for a fun & safe experience & the must-see spots, including some hidden gems. 

Find Your Yacht & Set Sail

woman in vinyard

Your sailing journey has to, of course, start with the right vessel. Ensuring you find the ideal yacht for yourself is vital as it not only determines how much you enjoy yourself while navigating the seas but more importantly, it will determine how safe both you & your crew will be. Considerations such as budget, hull size, amenities & comfort must be defined to help narrow down your selection from the massive range of options available when browsing the marketplace. 

A handy resource that will further explore these options in-depth can be found here on the Yachtingworld website, this article posted in early 2020 covers a range of topics to ensure you make the correct choice with purchasing your vessel. 

An ideal launching location for any first-time sailor is that of Auckland, as it offers the great benefit of being able to set sail and arrive on the island well within an hour. This guide will endeavour to explore topics that will be available to you on your sailing trip. The range of activities that will appease a variety of interests, whether you are seeking stunning wineries, ideal surfing beaches, fishing locations, or even looking to tick off a whale sighting from your bucket list. 

Experience Fine Wine on Waiheke Island

Now that you’ve departed Auckland harbour our recommendation for your first stop would be that of Waiheke Island. Ranked by Lonely Planet as the fifth best region in the world, this stunning island is a 40-minute sail East from Auckland. Boasting the perfect greens for any golfing enthusiast and foodie locations that would impress the most experienced culinary experts, this island is a worthy stop and makes for an ideal beginning of your voyage. 

If we were to make a single recommendation to get the most out of your time here, it would be to visit (and perhaps stay a night or two) Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant

Offering breathtaking views that are worthy of any travelling series, and multiple restaurants with both fine dining for a romantic evening or a Bistro for a casual, cosy meal. Visiting this venue will also give you the option to broaden your wine rapport as winery tours & cellar door tastings are highly popular and well-reviewed. 

Chamberlins Island

The advantage of setting sail with your yacht is, of course, to travel ‘off-the-beaten-track’ or rather ‘off-the-well-travelled-waters’. A short hop South of Waikehe Island, you will find an intermittent Chamberlins Island. Although you won’t find a selection of wineries, golf courses, or even a significantly populated town, this location is a must to drop anchor off-shore and enjoy having your own deserted beach and experience some serenity away from higher populated islands. 

Furthermore, this location has been reviewed as a decent fishing location, so why not drop-a-line and try your luck at catching yourself dinner while enjoying being surrounded by nothing but nature. 

Great Barrier Island

If you are seeking an ideal surfing spot, this is the spot for you. The Great Barrier Island is one of the largest islands within the Hauraki Gulf, boasting fantastic conditions for surfing coupled with white sandy beaches, this is the ideal stop for those who have a passion for the outdoors. The island also offers some excellent mountain bike tracks & trails. However, if you are not equipped with a mountain bike, there are also a number of hiking trails. For the hiking enthusiast, the Kauri trail is a great experience that allows you to summit Mt.Hobson and enjoy a stunning view of the sunrise. 

Motutapu Island Camping

a camp fire on a beach

For a history buff, Motutapu Island is a great place to visit. This location has a historical connection with WW2 as serving as a military base. Rest assured, you don’t have to share an interest in history to enjoy this location as it offers fantastic camping grounds with rolling green hills and scenic views. It would not be a struggle to plan out an amazing day on this island. Why not start with a camp-site breakfast by the fire, before setting off to explore the island with one of four walking trails ranging from easy to expert. You can then hire yourself a kayak and have a relaxing paddle from Home Bay to Mission Bay with experienced tour guides available, and finally ending your day by pitching a tent on the beach and sharing a glass of wine watching the sunset. More information on both the Motutapu island camping, hiking, kayaking & tours can be found on the Motutapu island website.

Explore Rotoroa Island

This location was not always open to public access, however, it now offers a range of award-winning museums, with heritage buildings including a schoolhouse & jail, making for a very engaging experience for any lover of culture & history. If you regard yourself as a bird-lover, you can even try your luck at spotting a Brown Teal duck, also known as pāteke. This rare species of duck can only be found in a select few locations around New Zealand. The island shares a similar history as our upcoming recommendation in the ways of nature restoration & conservation. From a time when over 60 weed species covered the island through the adoption of conservation programs, the island would become near weed free within three years. These days the island has almost cultivated a near fully covered canopy along with rich, lively soils. 

The island also offers a range of accommodation options if you are looking to spend a few nights on land, more information on accommodation can be found on the Rotora island website.

Explore Tiriti Matangi Island Birdlife Sanctuary

This island has a rich history, from when it first became isolated from rising sea levels 20,000 years ago to becoming a farming island in 1940, then from 1969 many actions were taken to restore the island as a conservational body of land by replanting trees, & introducing bird species. So popular among the bird watching community that people travel from around the world to visit & spot the unique birdlife. The restoration & conservation was entirely welcomed by the Auckland citizens, and today this island is an open sanctuary boasting a range of breathtaking natural sights.

Visiting Tiriti Matangi Island is a highly engaging experience that will grant you the opportunity to learn of its interesting history & even have the chance to learn some bird-calling. 

Learn of the interesting History of Kawau Island

the legs of people hiking

Once the residence for New Zealand royalty, this is now a highly popular location for boat enthusiasts & anyone seeking to experience crystal clear waters, coupled with stunning historical buildings, including a Mansion which was previously owned by Sir George Grey. Those who are fans of the 2004 film ‘The Notebook’, may spot a resemblance between that of Sir Grey’s mansion and the lakeside house featured in said film.

The island also offers an impressive range of options for walking & hiking trails for any experience level with trails from 10mins to 2 and a half hours long. If, however being on land is not your preference, additional water activities are available, which include fishing, kayaking & more. You can pick up your map here and start planning your visit. 

All-The-While Whale Watching 

Whale watching

One of the most extraordinary experiences right up there with climbing the Eiffel tower of Paris, & viewing the Northern Lights of Norway is having the chance to see one of the largest animals in the world in their natural environment. 

The beauty of sailing New Zealand is the many opportunities you are granted to spot these giants of the sea. Just some of the spots where whale watching is possible include the Hauraki gulf, Bay of Islands, Marlborough Sounds & Bay of Plenty. If you have no luck spotting an orca, minke, or pilot whale during your own sailing ventures while hopping between islands, you can always take advantage of one of the many services that offer guided tours both by sea & even sky offered on the surrounding islands. For some additional information on whale watching of New Zealand, jump on the Nzpocketguide website here.

In Closing

Setting sail on your voyage is no doubt a very rare & exciting adventure to get to experience, we hope that this guide has given you some inspiration as to things to consider when sailing through the New Zealand islands. Although we’ve covered several options in this piece, it is encouraged that you research the vast range of unmentioned additional locations, activities & experiences you will have available to you with the freedom of sailing on your own yacht.