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NEW ZEALAND
SAILING ITINERARIES


A Bay of Islands sailing itinerary highlights cruising along a 50-mile coastline and encompasses some of the most scenic waters in all of New Zealand. The area is appropriately named. It's literally a bay of islands, more than 80 of them situated in sheltered waters with plenty of beautiful and protected anchorages an easy sail away (see Bay of Islands maps). Scuba diving, snorkeling, beach combing, hiking, shopping, exploring historic sites, and dining ashore in quaint harbor towns are all part of the adventure of sailing in New Zealand, a place the Maori called Land of the Long White Cloud.




Day 1: Russell

Boating in Russell waters is a voyage into history. While the town today is a tourist destination, it retains its sense of the out-of-the-way, in part because of its somewhat remote location but also because of its rich and storied past. Long before James Cook visited the port in 1769 the Maori established a fishing village on the shores of the Bay of Islands. As New Zealand saw an increase in shipping in the 1800s, the port of Russell became a major whaling and trading center famous for its rough characters off the ships. In fact, Russell was known as the Hellhole of the Pacific. The bullet holes in the Anglican Church, the oldest in New Zealand, attest to the violence that was common in the settlement. Eventually Russell became the capital of New Zealand and businesses thrived. Today Russell's shops and restaurants are popular among visitors, many of whom are anglers interested in the abundant fishery just offshore.

Mooring: Moorings are available. Anchor off the wharf in deep water. Make certain the anchor is well set.

Dinghy dockage: Dinghy dockage is available.

Things to do: Apart from the shops, restaurants, and pubs, a visit to Russell is intriguing because of the history that seems to be everywhere. A good place to learn more about the Bay of Islands and the town itself is at the Russell Museum. The various collections include artifacts from the Maori culture, Captain Cook memorabilia, and whaling implements, including harpoons. There are three heritage paths (interpretative maps are available at the museum) that can take as little as 35 minutes to walk or as much as two hours. Of particular interest is the trek up Flagstaff Hill. There you can see stunning 360-degree views of the islands. It's well worth the time to take such a pleasant stroll. Guided tours of Russell and the surrounding area are also available.

Facilities: Fuel, propane, and provisions are available.


Day 1: Russell

Opua to Russell - 4 nm. Start your Bay of Islands itinerary with a short sail to Russell, originally a Maori village and the site of the first European settlement in New Zealand. The historic town has a number of stores and restaurants. The Russell Museum is well worth a visit. The exhibits tell the story of how Russell changed over time from the days when the Maori lived there to when the town developed into a major whaling and trading port, eventually becoming New Zealand's first capital. There are three heritage paths to a variety of historic sites that make for interesting trekking.

Mooring: Moorings are available. Anchor off the wharf in deep water. Make certain the anchor is well set.

Dinghy dockage: Dinghy dockage is available.

Things to do: Apart from the shops, restaurants, and pubs, a visit to Russell is intriguing because of the history that seems to be everywhere. A good place to learn more about the Bay of Islands and the town itself is at the Russell Museum. The various collections include artifacts from the Maori culture, Captain Cook memorabilia, and whaling implements, including harpoons. There are three heritage paths (interpretative maps are available at the museum) that can take as little as 35 minutes to walk or as much as two hours. Of particular interest is the trek up Flagstaff Hill. There you can see stunning 360-degree views of the islands. It's well worth the time to take such a pleasant stroll. Guided tours of Russell and the surrounding area are also available.

Facilities: Fuel, propane, and provisions are available.


Day 3: Moturua Island

Russell to Moturua Island - 5 nm. The second leg of your Bay of Islands itinerary takes you to Roberton Island (Motuarohia Island) for much of the day. This is where British explorer James Cook first landed in 1769 during his initial voyage to the South Pacific (he sailed there three times). The island is small, less than a mile in length, and is part of a marine reserve. Its main feature is the two lagoons that nearly split the land into three parts. Within the lagoons is an underwater snorkeling trail, and ashore there is a white-sand beach and a hiking path leading to a scenic overlook with stunning views of the bay. After enjoying Roberton Island, set off on the passage to your overnight anchorage at scenic Moturua Island, also part of a marine reserve. Waipao Bay (Frenchman's Bay) is a beautiful location, and you can harvest fresh mussels there for a delicious feast!

Mooring: No moorings are available. There are four popular bays on Moturua Island: Otupoho, Waipao, Mangahawea, and Waiwhapuku. One of the best is Waipao Bay on the south end of the island. Tiny Pipi Bay on the southeast side of the island is extremely well protected.

Things to do: The snorkeling and fishing is excellent off the two islands near Waipao Bay. Swimming on the beautiful white-sand beaches is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, particularly after hiking the loop trail that circles the island and often fronts steep cliffs overlooking the sea.

Facilities: Garbage disposal is available during the summer at the garbage scow anchored off the southwest corner of the island. No other facilities for yachts are available.


Day 4 & 5: Whangaroa Harbour

Moturua Island to Whangaroa Harbour - 35 nm. Awaken early for a day full of fantastic sailing. Along the way, you can stop at the beautiful Cavalli Islands, where you can swim, snorkel, and explore on foot. Then set sail for Whangaroa Harbour. Once through the narrow entrance you make your way to the scenic and sheltered anchorage off the Kingfish Lodge. Enjoying an excellent seafood dinner at the restaurant and a refreshing cocktail at the bar is a pleasant way to spend the evening.

Mooring:Moorings are available for a fee off Kingfish Lodge. There are many sheltered anchorages in the harbor, including the one in Kingfish Cove.

Dinghy dockage: Dinghy dockage is available.

Things to do: Exploring the sheltered waters of this large harbor is a delightful way to spend the day. Among the natural attractions is the impressive waterfall in Rere Bay. Taking the dinghy into the creek off Lane's Cove is a fun excursion, though you have to go in at high tide. The harbor has two resorts, Kingfish Lodge at Kingfish Cove and the Game Fishing Club at Whangaroa settlement. Both have restaurants and bars.

Facilities: Dockage, electricity, showers, rest rooms, water, and provisions are available.


Day 6: Cavalli Islands Island

Whangaroa Harbor to Cavalli Islands - 35 nm. Sailing south takes you back to the Cavalli Islands, where you'll find a variety of beautiful anchorages well worth visiting in settled weather. Horseshoe Bay on the west side of Big Cavalli Island is quite popular, as is the hiking trail that circles the island and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding waters. The snorkeling in the area is excellent, especially at Nukutaunga Island. Local dive companies offer underwater excursions to explore the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace ship scuttled in 1987 to serve as an artificial reef.

Mooring: No moorings are available. The most popular anchorage is Horseshoe Bay on the west side of Big Cavalli Island. It should be used only in settled weather.

Dinghy dockage: No dinghy dockage is available.

Things to do: A highlight of sailing in the Cavalli Islands is a visit to Big Cavalli. A walking path snakes into the island from Horseshoe Bay, offering stunning views of the surrounding waters and isles. The snorkeling is great off Nukutaunga Island, and offshore is the wreck of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, sunk in 1987 to create a rich habitat for marine life. Local dive companies offer excursions to the wreck. The visibility is usually quite good.


Day 7: Waewaetorea Island Island

Cavalli Islands to Waewaetorea Island - 20 nm. Your Bay of Islands sailing itinerary takes you on a relatively short passage to lovely Waeweatorea Island, with several sheltered beaches excellent for swimming. Ashore are the ruins of a Maori village.

Mooring: No moorings are available. The best anchorage is in Stockyard Bay on the south side of the island. It should only be used in settled weather.

Dinghy dockage: No dinghy dockage is available.

Things to do: The beaches and snorkeling are the prime attractions of Waewaetorea Island. The scuba diving is excellent on the seaward side of the island. A short hike to the ruins of a Maori village is delightful.


Day 8: Whangamumu Harbour

Waewaetorea Island to Whangamumu Harbour - 11 nm. The next leg of your Bay of Islands itinerary takes you past the historic Cape Brett Lighthouse and rugged Percy Island famous for the Hole in the Rock and Cathedral Cave. The seascape is breathtaking, and you may well see dolphins and blue penguins. The fishing off the cape is fabulous. Beyond you will find Whangamumu Harbour, which was once a busy whaling station tucked between the two headlands. Taking the dinghy ashore to explore is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. There are walking paths to nearby waterfalls and to a scenic overlook.

Mooring: No moorings are available. The best anchorage is at the southwest corner of the harbor.

Dinghy dockage: No dinghy dockage is available.

Things to do: The ruins of the old whaling station make for an interest visit. You'll see the old vats, boilers, slipways, and other evidence of the long history of the facility. The beaches are good for swimming and snorkeling, and a walk along the peninsula presents wonderful views of the coast.


Day 9: Oke Bay

Whangamumu Harbour to Oke Bay - 12 nm. A short sail north around Cape Brett takes you to Oke Bay. As you sail, dolphins may accompany you, adding to the remote ambiance of this cliff-lined stretch of the coast. On the way, consider stopping for lunch at Deep Water Cove with its artificial reef. Well sheltered at the base of the cape on the west side, Oke Bay is a superlative spot for swimming and snorkeling. Gathering fresh mussels for dinner is another attraction of the bay.

Mooring: No moorings are available. The best anchorage is in the northwest corner of the bay.

Dinghy dockage: No dinghy dockage is available.

Things to do: An old Maori trail leads to the hills around the bay, the site of a Maori cemetery. The view from the top reveals the Bay of Islands in its magnificent splendor, particularly as the sun sinks below the western horizon.


Day 10: Otehie Bay

Oke Bay to Otehie Bay - 4 nm. From Oke Bay head to beautiful Otehie Bay on the southwest side of Bakers Island, famous for the Zane Grey Resort, where you can enjoy the restaurant, bar, the beaches, snorkeling, kayaking, numerous walking paths to archaeological sites, and a ride on the Nautilus, a submarine that takes you on an undersea sightseeing tour. The resort is named after the renowned angler Zane Grey, who had a fishing base at Otehie Bay. Bakers Island also has a number of walking paths that provide stunning views of the surrounding waters and the mainland.

Mooring: No moorings are available. The best anchorage is on the east side of the bay off the jetty and resort. Alternatively, you can anchor in other nearby bays and walk to the resort.

Dinghy dockage: Dinghy dockage is available at the jetty.

Things to do: The highlight of Otehie Bay sailing is a visit to the Zane Grey Resort. Various activities are available, including kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming. A delight for children and adults alike is a ride on the Nautilus, a submarine offering sightseeing tours. Hiking trails run along the edge of Bakers Island and offer spectacular views. There is a restaurant and bar at the resort, which is named for the famous fisherman Zane Grey, who used Otehie Bay as a base. His book, Tales of the Angler's Eldorado, is popular among fishing enthusiasts.


Day 11: Assassination Cove

Otehie Bay to Assassination Cove - 5 nm. Your Bay of Islands itinerary next takes you westward to the mainland, where you'll find a profusion of scenic and sheltered bays. Tucked behind a long peninsula on the easternmost shore is Te Hue Bay, or more commonly known as Assassination Cove. The bay is one of the best protected in the area.

Mooring: No moorings are available. The best anchorage is toward the center of the bay.

Dinghy dockage: No dinghy dockage is available.

Things to do: The seclusion and good protection are the key attractions of Assassination Cove, which was named after Marc-Joseph Marion du Frense, a French explorer who was killed there in 1772 along with 26 other men. As the story goes, he violated the sacred ground of the Maori and paid with his life for the mistake, as did the hapless souls who were with him!

Facilities: Water is available at a jetty in the northeast corner of the bay. The jetty dries out at low water.

Final Morning: Assassination Cove to Opua - 9 nm. Although you won't want to sail back to reality (you can always come visit the Bay of Islands again!), the final leg of your charter will take you on a short passage back to the Moorings base at Opua. Please check in by noon.



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Bay of Islands, New Zealand: Suggested Cruising Program 10 day program . Please note: Information on this sheet is believed to be correct but not guaranteed