Sailing the South Pacific – The Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Posted: June 6, 2012 in Places to Go
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The Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

To many, the South Pacific conjures up memories of the award winning Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway Musical of the same name with its well known songs including Happy Talk and the hopeful ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right out of My Hair’.

For lovers of sailing vacations, it has a whole different meaning. It represents the serenity of translucent seas, towering palm trees, luscious lagoons and a whole new world of exploration. Stretching all the way from the Kingdom of Tonga through French Polynesia to New Zealand in the south, the region offers a blissful escape from the pressures of everyday life.

With over 80 islands to explore along a 50 miles stretch of coastline, the Bay of Islands, off New Zealand, is a sublime choice for this year’s sailing vacation. Offering a range of activities to suit all tastes, a yacht charter through the Bay of Islands takes you to pristine white sand beaches and ideal scuba diving sites.

Lovers of marine and wildlife will have the chance to see dolphins, blue penguins, snapper, kingfishers and countless other species in these sublime surroundings. Add to that historic sites, plenty of shopping and a wide choice of restaurants in the harbor towns and you’ll be hard pressed to leave.

The best time to travel to the area is through the summer, which for the Southern Hemisphere is November through April where temperatures reach up to 86F. The waters themselves are generally sheltered but be prepared for both daily land and sea breezes.

You may wish to include the following places as you plan your sailing itinerary:


Westhaven Marina, Auckland

Westhaven Marina, Auckland

New Zealand’s largest city is easily reached from the Bay of Islands. With its renowned Westhaven Marina offering 1,456 berths there’s plenty of room to anchor. If you have time it’s worth exploring further afield. With 48 volcanic cones across New Zealand, Auckland’s newest arrival is the Rangitoto, unexpectedly forming around 600 years ago. Explore the Pohutukawa Forest and its lava caves with over 200 species of native trees and flowering plants despite the lack of traditional soil in the area. For stunning views, visit Mount Eden – Maungawhau in Maori – the highest volcano in the region.


Russell, New Zealand

Russell, New Zealand

Situated in the far north of the North Island, the popular Russell offers a combination of culture, shopping and a vibrant nightlife. Originally established by the Maori people, Russell was described as ‘a most noble anchorage‘ by the famous British explorer James Cook. Cook sailed to New Zealand in 1769 on the HMS Endeavour after undertaking a scientific expedition in Tahiti. Originally called Kororareka by the Maoris, the British renamed it Russell after the Secretary of State for the Colonies – Lord John Russell.

Cavalli Islands

Cavalli Islands, NZ

Cavalli Islands, New Zealand

The water surrounding the Cavalli Islands is one of the top diving sites in New Zealand. Located approximately two miles off the coast of Matauri Bay, the main island, Motukawanui, is a haven for wildlife lovers. A great place for scuba diving is the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior which lies between the islands and Matauri Bay. The Rainbow Warrior was the Greepeace ship scuttled in 1987 to create an artificial reef (and diving attraction!). Today it’s covered in colorful corals and sea anemones.

If you visit the Cavalli Islands during your bareboat charter holiday, don’t miss Mataatua II at Matauri Bay. It’s actually a Maori war waka (canoe) commemorating the Pacific migration which brought the Maoris to New Zealand 700 years ago. The adventurous among you can even paddle to the islands on a sea kayaking safari.

The Bay of Islands is an easily navigable region enabling lovers of sailing vacations to explore some of New Zealand’s best kept secrets at their leisure.

Does it have anything in common with the musical of the same name? Well, don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing a few verses of ‘Happy Talk’ while you’re there.


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