New Zealand’s Top Sailing Destinations

New Zealand’s Top Sailing Destinations: A Guide For Seasoned Skippers

Ahoy there, ocean travellers! If you’ve ever hoped to take in the breathtaking natural beauty of Aotearoa but weren’t sure where to start, look no further. We’ve got some destinations that will be sure to satisfy your seafaring soul. Whether you captain deck boats or luxury sailing boats, nothing beats the fresh sea air and unique freedom of embarking on a maritime adventure. And when it comes to planning a sailing holiday, there’s no better destination in the world than New Zealand. 

New Zealand is a unique boating destination for many reasons. Caught between the Tasman sea and the Pacific Ocean, these waters demand a high level of sailing proficiency to properly indulge in their natural splendours. If you’re hoping to take your sea vacation to the next level, or if you’re looking to challenge your skippering skills, then read on. Below, we’ve put together our list of the top destinations for seasoned skippers that you cannot miss on your next visit to the land of the long white cloud. 

New Zealand's Top Sailing Destinations
New Zealand’s Top Sailing Destinations

The Marlborough Sounds

Nestled in the northern tip of the south island, the Marlborough Sounds boasts a rich maritime history. As part of the Cook Strait, these waters have been travelled for over 800 years. 

But don’t be fooled by the beautiful scenery or the alluring sheltered waterways, this voyage is not for the novice sailor. With vortices being common due to the strong and conflicting winds, this is a trip that should be taken with some caution. 

If you’re able to weather the potential storm, however, there are great hiking trails to challenge all skill levels. Or, if you’re still looking for more ocean action, there are several shipwrecks that boast a unique and exhilarating diving adventure for divers of all kinds. 

Bay of Islands

No list of NZ sailing destinations would be complete without the Bay of Islands. But this world renowned fishing spot has more to offer than just a freshly caught lunch. Traversing through the Bay of Islands via boat gives you access to all the unique and beautiful islands, each with their own hidden gems (such as the geothermal pools at Ngawha Springs or the waterfalls of Kerikeri). 

If you’re seeking some retail therapy, the Old Packhouse Markets are a must visit for local produce and artisan stalls. Or if you prefer to stay aboard your vessel, you may even be able to spot the water wildlife. The Bay of Islands is home to an abundance of marine life, including penguins, dolphins, fur seals, and even whales during whale watching season. Regardless of what you are hoping to get out of your ocean voyage, the bay of islands continues to deliver. 

Auckland New Zealand Port
Auckland New Zealand Port

Fiordland National Park

Historically, the Fiordland National Park has provided a ruthless landscape that only the most daring and determined have been able to survive. And that can still be seen today. Composed of mountains, and rainforest environments, this national park has one of the wettest climates in all of New Zealand, this destination is one that you could never be over prepared for.

The main attraction at Fiordland National Park is the hiking trails, three of which are listed as part of New Zealand’s great walks. There is also the stunning Te Anau glow worm caves which will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to a foreign planet. And considering that New Zealand’s own fjords could rival those of Norway, this sailing destination is well worth the trouble. 

The Coromandel Peninsula

One of the more accessible entries on our list, the Coromandel Peninsula is a popular tourist destination and for good reason. With picture perfect coastlines of golden beaches, this north island location is full of exciting activities to suit the whole family. In fact, you’ll find your visit to the Coromandel Peninsula to be pretty similar to sailing around Hamilton Island – except for the fact that this NZ destination also includes natural hot springs!

For those seeking some R&R, why not visit the Coromandel Peninsula’s surreal hot water beach? Tapping into the natural spring that runs underneath this beach, you can dig yourself your own hot tub and relax in the naturally heated water just metres away from the Pacific Ocean.

If you do find yourself headed to the Coromandel Peninsula by boat, a visit to Cathedral Cove is also essential. Accessible only by kayak or boat, this cove is a truly magical sight to behold, with opportunities to snorkel or explore some sea caves, for those who are feeling extra adventurous. Or you can challenge yourself to hike the Kauaeranga Kauri trail. There’s no better way to alleviate your sea legs than with a bracing hike through NZ forest lands.

Bon Voyage 

As you can see, there are so many gorgeous natural wonders to explore by sea in the magical lands of Aotearoa. From steep cliff faces to natural thermal pools to secluded coves with amazing beaches, exploring the coast of New Zealand is guaranteed to provide a little enrichment for all kinds of skippers. The experience of sailing through New Zealand is unparalleled, which is part and parcel why so many generations of seafarers keep on coming back to the land of the long white cloud.

To some sailors, the destinations we’ve outlined above are picturesque and recreational – the perfect training grounds for honing your sailing skills. But to others, these locations hold significance within the history of maritime exploration and travel in the southern hemisphere, and to sail through them is a commendation of a sailor’s experience and determination. 

Whichever side of the spectrum you fall on, you simply cannot deny that sailing across the coast of New Zealand is guaranteed to be a once in a lifetime experience that you are sure to treasure forever. So get to your moorage and prepare to depart.


AU NZ Travel Aukland At Night Time
AU NZ Travel Aukland At Night Time


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