auckland to bay of islands yacht race

Friday 20 October

Safety and handicaps.

There are two pieces of paperwork that you need to complete before you set sail in the PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic. 

The Coastal is defined by Yachting NZ as a Category 3 event. This means you need to get a Cat 3 safety certificate issued by Yachting NZ. These require an insepction, cost $121 for club members and are valid for two years. 

As the Coastal is a mixed fleet race, we use handicaps to calculate time based results. If you have a keelboat, you’ll need a PHRF handicap certificate from Yachting NZ, which costs $75 for a new application and is valid for a year.  Multihulls can request a handicap from the NZMYC. 

The Coastal Classic is 119 nautical miles long. It starts off Devonport Wharf in Auckland, and finishes off Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands. Described as a drag race, it can be a sprint for the fastest boats who can finish in less than six hours, or a challenging marathon for the crew on boats that take more than 24 hours to reach Russell.

Stage 1: the start.

All boats should be at the start line between 0800 hrs and 0900 hrs and pass close to the start boat for identification and safety reasons.  LATE ARRIVALS need to advise their intention to start on VHF Channel 17.  Please use the words Coastal Classic when calling.  The start line is a transit from the SE corner of the Devonport public wharf and the western bluff on Hobson Point across the harbour.  A start boat is placed on the line approximately 1000 metres from Devonport wharf and race marks are used to separate the fleet.  Most boats will start between the wharf and the start boat, but other divisions such as the Solo and Multihulls will start on the outer start line.  It is important that you are not over at the start as there is a significant penalty incurred.

With such a large fleet in the start area you need to keep a very close eye out for other yachts  but at the same time enjoying the spectacle of so many boats in that area lining up for the start.  There are three start times, so check carefully which time you start.

You can expect there to be lots of spectator boats, many who will also accompany you up the first stages of the channel past Rangitoto.

The first decision is often whether to stay close to North Head or sail out wide after the  start   Also you often need to decide whether to put up a spinnaker in that first short section to North Head, which can make a difference, but does test the crew almost immediately, especially if its a strong south westerly. Take care at the start, but enjoy the sense of adventure ahead. 

Stage 2:  North Head to Kawau

As you sail up the Rangitoto Channel you will need to be considering whether you pass through the Tiri Passage or not.  If you go on the outside, there are rocks close so these need to be carefully monitored.  It is more or less a rum line either way, so that will be one of your first decisions. Make sure you have checked the tide times, its strong through the passage.  

Once past Tiri Tiri Matangi you will then be thinking about how far you pass on the outside of Kawau.  Many boats will choose a rum line course but others will try sailing further offshore to pick up a different breeze.

Stage 3:  Kawau to Bream Head

This takes you across Bream Bay and is often the most exposed part of the course.  It is important at this stage you are comfortable that the crew are all okay and that you are happy to continue on.  You can often expect the windiest parts of the trip on this leg.  Sail Rock is on the rum line.  On this part of the course some thought may be given to sailing outside the Hen & Chickens. By now you will be considering the sort of angle you wish to approach Cape Brett later up the course.  This will depend on your own performance and which sail angles suit your yacht the best. Depending on how long the race is taking  it may be starting to get towards dark at this point, so special care needs to be taken to prepare the crew for night sailing.  Safety at night becomes paramount.

Stage 4: Whangarei to Cape Brett

This stretch potentially takes you very close to some of the most scenic parts of the Northland coastland.  It is important that you have identified the various headlands, islands and lights to look out for, including those at Tutakaka, Poor Knights and Cape Brett.  Depending on the condition, decisions may need to be made as to whether to stay in close to the shore or to sail offshore to pick up a different breeze.  Tutukaka is half way, so a good milestone up the course .It would have been important to listen carefully at the pre-race briefing for clues on the way to go. Make sure you have identified Elisabeth Reef and stay well clear.  

Stage 5: Cape Brett

This is the major cape to round in the race.  It is spectacular and always provides an interesting challenge as to the best way round the cape.  Just off the cape is Percy Island and this can be passed either to port or starboard.

The approach to Cape Brett is often also interesting with the wind varying on both sides and also varying in close and out further.  It can be very fluky in close and although there is plenty of water, particular care must be taken if going between Percy Island and Cape Brett. If it goes well, you can look famous, if not, then ou had bad luck!  Many a crew has fallen into a dead wind trap at Brett with a south-westerly, and hard luck tales abound the bar.

Stage 6: Cape Brett to Tapeka Point

Once round the Cape, the last 20 miles into the finish can often be the most complex in terms of navigation.  Most of the islands will be on your port as you sail in, so care needs to be taken to navigate clear of all rocks and the islands on the way in.

By this point in the race, some of the crew may be tired and it could be the early hours of the morning, so it is important to find ways to keep concentrating and get the best performance from your boat and the crew right to the end.  This is a stage where you can make big losses or good gains, so stay alert!

Stage 7: Tapeka Point to the Finish

You are nearly there! This short final leg with the coastline to your port is the final couple of miles, often in lighter winds.  Again many yachts have a last minute gain or loss by keeping a close eye on small gusts in the water. By now the crew will also be keen to be thinking of crossing the finishing line and what happens next.

Look out for the large strobe light on the large finish power boat.  It is important to pass between a buoy moored just off the back of the finish boat and the outer distance buoy positioned between the start boat and Russell wharf.  Have a torch ready to shine on your sail number and your boat name to make it easier for those on the finish line.  Often many boats will finish in a very short space of time, which is both fun for the competitors but challenging for the finish boat.

Cross the Finish Line

You can expect a good horn and a cheer from the finish boat and it’s time to drop the sails.  Often it is quite quiet and calm at this time, so you can quietly motor into Russell and find either a pre-arranged mooring or anchor somewhere safely and congratulate yourselves on having completed this challenging race.  It’s then time to enjoy the post-race festivities as you like.

Remember your radio reporting times, to keep your tracker on, and to listen into the Coastguard Nowcasting service on your mobile of VHF for wind conditions being experienced at various places up the course, it might help making that critical sail change before your competitors do!  

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

Bay of Islands Sailing Week – 23-26 January, 2024

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Auckland’s Yacht Wired Sails to Victory in Coastal Classic Race

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

In a thrilling testament to superior design and skill, Auckland’s very own yacht “Wired” has emerged victorious in the eagerly anticipated Coastal Classic yacht race. Covering the challenging route between Auckland to Russell, situated in the picturesque Bay of Islands, Wired crossed the finish line a few ticks before 8pm.

Despite the race duration of slightly above 10 hours and 20 minutes exceeding twice the standing course record of 5 hours and 37 seconds set by Beau Geste in 2019, Wired’s commendable performance in lighter air conditions at the race’s commencement accentuated the masterfully constructed Bakewell-White 52-footer’s untamed velocity. Equipped with a canting keel and a computer-controlled dagger board for augmented strength, Wired held its own amid stiff competition.

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A remarkable fleet of over 140 yachts, gathered from far and wide, vied for supremacy in what has become an eagerly anticipated annual event, initiated just over four decades ago. Regarded as a marquee event in New Zealand’s yachting calendar, this year’s race took an unexpected turn as the start line was moved from Devonport Wharf to Narrowneck Beach. A mandatory restriction across the Waitemata Harbour, stemming from a severe rupture of a primary sewer line in Parnell, forced this location change.

Despite a gloomy start shrouded in grey skies and a mild easterly wind, spirits remained high with the promise of a wind shift later during the day. The conditions seemingly favoured the multihull yachts, but the Division 1A heavyweight monohulls proved otherwise, setting the rhythm from the onset. Mayhem attempted to lead the fleet but was eventually overtaken by the ultimate triumphant, Wired. Apache staged a late surge, outpacing Clockwork within the last few minutes to secure the second position.

Some diligent contenders continued their endeavour into the night, hopeful of reaching Russell come Saturday. One should bear in mind that beyond the race finishers, the journey and perseverance hold equal significance in this fiercely competitive event.

Race spokesman Adrian Percival kept his pre-race predictions minimal, choosing instead to detail the weather conditions the ardent sailors were set to engage with. The rather unpredictable nature of the race makes the outcome a challenge to prophesize.

Whilst anticipating an exciting race, the fleet welcomed two participants who had previoulsy challenged the waters in the inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean race. Mayfair and Frantic’s arduous journey from Australia had not been in vain, as the Kiwi hospitality in both Auckland and the Bay of Islands was to ensure they felt right at home.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

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Bay of Islands Sailing Week

January 23 - january 26.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

Bay of Islands Sailing Week is the biggest event of its kind in New Zealand – a multi-day sailing regatta primarily for keelboats, trailer yachts and multihulls. Established in 2003, this annual regatta is now a highlight of the sailing calendar for New Zealand sailors and a growing number of overseas sailors from Australia and the Pacific too. When is it? The regatta takes place at the end of January, in the week preceding Auckland & Northland Anniversary Weekend each year.

The 4-day regatta format includes Registration on the Tuesday evening, followed by three days of racing Wednesday to Friday, with Prizegiving on Friday evening.

Where does it take place? As the name suggests, Bay of Islands Sailing Week is held in the spectacular Bay of Islands, on the east coast of Northland in the upper North Island of New Zealand. The location boasts superb sailing, stunning scenery, bountiful marine life and friendly locals.

Regatta HQ The regatta is based in Opua, a small coastal town located just off SH11 a few kilometres south of Paihia. Regatta registration and evening entertainment take place here in the main regatta marquee.

Evening entertainment for the next regatta is to be confirmed – check back soon for more info.

Regatta Race Courses Racing is held throughout the Bay of Islands, in three separate race areas.

Outer Course for A, B and M divisions (Windward / Leeward and Bay Races) Middle Course for C, E, Sports Boats and Young 88 divisions (Windward / Leeward and Bay Races) Island Racing, all of which will sail one Bay Race a day. Beach Party One of the best-loved traditions of Bay of Islands Sailing Week is the Thursday-night Beach Party. In recent years this has been held on stunning Urupukapuka Island, courtesy of regatta sponsor Explore, who host the party at their Otehei Bay resort.

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Bay of Islands Coastal Classic death: Sailor dies during yachting race

Ben Leahy

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Yachts at the start line of the Coastal Classic yacht race from Auckland to Russell. Photo / Suellen Hurling-Live Sail Die

A person has died while racing a yacht in the Bay of Islands after they were struck by the boom.

The boom - a horizontal spar at the bottom of the mast - swung round and struck the person at 11.29pm yesterday, knocking them unconcious.

The Kokako Rescue boat from the Coastguard Bay of Islands service was nearby and rushed to help the crew, who had been taking part in the Coastal Classic race from Auckland to Russell.

“Upon reaching the yacht at shortly after 0100 hours, one of our crew boarded with a medical kit, including a defibrillator,” Ayden Armitage, a member of the Kokako’s volunteer Coastguard crew, said.

“Sadly, the individual passed away.”

Kokako Rescue then accompanied the yacht to Ōpua, arriving at 4am.

Armitage said treatment was also provided to two other sailors on the yacht, who had sustained moderate injuries.

“Our thoughts are with the whānau of the sailor, and their fellow crew members, who were on board at the time,” he said.

Armitage said the volunteer crew on Kokako Rescue had been training at the time of the incident, allowing them to respond quickly.

However, they had planned to coincide their training with the race so they could be on-hand to assist if needed, the Coastguard said.

More than 140 yachts started this year’s Coastal Classic.

Hosted by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club, it is an annual 119-nautical-mile race from Auckland to Russell.

First run 41 years ago, the event is one of the biggest events on the yachting calendar in New Zealand.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

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The Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race

The Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race

The Sydney to Auckland ocean race is not to be undertaken lightly. But what a great feeling when you step ashore after the finish

The trans-Tasman rivalry is set to reignite when the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s (RPAYC) inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race, which starts on Saturday, 7 October 2023 at 1pm, from Sydney Harbour and finishes in Auckland, New Zealand. Originally, the challenging 1,250-nautical mile race was to start in January 2021, taking in the America’s Cup in New Zealand. In the meantime, Covid intervened and RPAYC, based at Pittwater on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, was forced to leave it to one side until travel restrictions were removed.

Organisers at the Club sat down to look at a new date for the race: ‘It had to be carefully planned, allowing crews of boats from both sides of the ditch to make the most of their time in both countries,’ organising committee chairman, Robert McClelland, said.

A Category 1 race, competitors will feel the thrill of starting on one of the most stunning harbours in the world with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House as its backdrop. The finish line will be in Auckland, home of the America’s Cup and the breeding ground of a horde of the worlds most revered sailors.

In between is nothing but ocean – a true ocean race – a rarity in the Southern Hemisphere.

RPAYC’s new partner, Royal Akarana Yacht Club (RAYC), will be on hand to finish the race. The Auckland club will also host the prizegiving where the overall IRC winner will receive the new Sydney to Auckland Perpetual Trophy.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

Open to monohulls from around the globe in IRC, ORCi and PHS – including Cruising and Short-Handed divisions, the race is also open to ocean racing multihulls under OMR.

‘Double-handed racing is one of the fastest growing markets in Australia and New Zealand, with new boats being built and participants looking for fresh challenges. The Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race offers such a challenge without having to travel thousands of miles to Europe and the large expense that entails,’ Nick Elliott, race director at the RPAYC says.

The Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race has piqued serious interest but it will be no walk in the park. Participants will have to deal with the vagaries of the weather from start to finish. A marginal sea in the part of the south-west Pacific Ocean that lies between Australia and New Zealand, the western margin of the Tasman Sea is formed by the coastlines of mainland Australia and Tasmania, the eastern margin by the Norfolk Ridge, the New Zealand coast and the Macquarie Ridge.

Between April and October, the northern branch of these winds from the west changes direction toward the north and pushes against the trade winds. It translates to the sea dispatching regular south-westerly winds during this time.

However, as any sailors worth their salt know, anything could happen, the norm is not a given and the forecast is not always on song. Each yacht will be fitted with a tracker so family, friends and sailing fans will be able to follow the race blow-by- blow.

On the partnership between RPAYC and RAYC, McClelland says, ‘The Royal Akarana Yacht Club has a similar ethos to the RPAYC and similar core values. The club hosts major events such as the Auckland Fiji and Auckland Noumea races as well as major Olympic, skiff and youth class events and conducts cruising. The club is a good fit with ours for this new race.’

Elliott adds, ‘We host major events and our Youth Development programme has produced stars of now, such as siblings James (Jimmy) and Katie Spithill and upcoming stars of the future. Our Olympic medallists include Bill Northam, Peter O’Donnell, Colin Beashel, Nina Curtis and many others.’

Early entrants include the host club’s Mark Griffith, a regular in offshore races with the DK46, LCE Old School Racing. ‘I think it’s going to be a premier race. It’s certainly the longest fully-crewed (from Australia) and an international race. This is the first time anyone gets to do it, so there should be quite a bit of interest and a strong fleet,’ he says. On the subtleties of the race, he predicted, ‘It will probably take six or seven days. The Sydney Hobart and Melbourne to Hobart are a sprint by comparison. We’ll have to pace ourselves more with the various conditions.’

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

‘We have a new mast and rigging that are also from New Zealand. It’s about to go in the boat, which has been painted black, has a new black mast and black sails like the All Blacks,’ she laughs. ‘So, the boat will be heading home in a way.’

On preparing, she says, ‘It hasn’t been easy but the Alfreds have been so helpful. I had a call to see if I needed any help. You don’t get much of that these days. To have internal support makes you feel connected.’

Elliott points out that Sydney and Auckland are two prominent sailing playgrounds and that the race has been created to take a major programme into consideration, enticing would be entrants to Australia and New Zealand. ‘We are trying to create is a circuit, which would justify the cost and logistics of committing to a campaign, he says.

Therefore, the timing of the race was all-important. The date was chosen to allow prospective competitors to compete on the popular northern circuit in Queensland beforehand, such as the popular Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and Magnetic Island Race Weeks, held annually between August and early September.

Following the Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race, yachts have time to return to Australia for the legendary Sydney Hobart and Melbourne to Hobart yacht races, should they desire. Otherwise, crews have an ideal opportunity to stay on in New Zealand and take part in in the famous Pic Coastal Classic, held later in October. Open to monohull, multihull and rally boats, it regularly attracts large fleets.

Starting in Auckland, the 119- nautical mile Coastal Classic race finishes in the Bay of Islands. A more picturesque place to end a race would be hard to find. It is world-renowned for its stunning beauty and is a subtropical microregion known for its history. For those who love cruising, swimming and all water activities, it is akin to paradise. A three-hour drive north of Auckland, it comprises 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula. And the time of year could not be better. It leaves the door open for yachties to make a holiday out of the main event, inviting family and friends to do some cruising. Owners also have the option of then taking part in the Bay of Islands Sailing Week, starting Tuesday 23 January 2024.

Alternatively, competitors could leave their boats in New Zealand and return for Sailing Week, which is open to anything from Elliott 5.9s to large racing yachts, multihulls and anything in between.

Mark Griffith is among those that have already suggested the Bay of Islands is on the “must do” list. The LCE Old School Racing crew plans to take full advantage of the New Zealand end of the race.

‘We’ve got plans to stay over,’ Griffith says. ‘The Coastal Classic is only a week later and gets around 160 entries. We don’t want to miss that. We also plan to cruise to the Bay of Islands, which is one of the most spectacular places on the planet. That’s on the way home, so we might leave the boat there and come back and do the Bay of Islands Regatta. This is not something we get to do every day, so we want to go hard at it,’ he adds. Standard entries for the Category 1 Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race, to be held by Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Association with the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in New Zealand, close on 1 September 2023.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

For all information, including entry and Notice of Race, please visit: www.sydneytoauckland.com

Main photo: Blackjack conquering the starting conditions of the 2022 Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race. Photo Andrea Francolini

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Auckland Sailing: 9 Ways to Get Out on the Water

Auckland sailing shot from the deck looking out forward

Auckland sailing. There is nothing quite like that moment of silence after we left the marina, raised the sails, and turned off the engine. Pure paradise.

On any day, Aucklanders can look out at the Hauraki Gulf, and chances are good there will be plenty of sails, cruisers, and even a few superyachts in our sightline.

And, if it’s the weekend or summer twilight, we can spot yacht racing in Auckland.

New Zealand’s largest city is monikered the “City of Sails” for a good reason. And it doesn’t take much, especially on a sunny summer day, to see why. Whether it’s recreational boating, casual racing, or special events, it’s always a thrill.

Remembering back to when we first came to New Zealand, I just wanted to get out on the water to participate in some of this Auckland sailing I watched out my window every decent weather day.

I made this list for anyone like my former self. For me, on that day when I couldn’t figure out how to get out on the water. Now, Auckland sailing is in my soul. It captivates me, and it keeps me happy. I hope the same for you.

The list is also for visitors, while some of the choices get you out on a regular basis, most are fabulous opportunities to book when you want to go.

It doesn’t really matter how you do it, just get out there. Choose the options that are best for you. After all, everyone in Auckland needs to get out on Waitemata Harbour at least once.

At the bottom of the page, we highlight some of the best local yacht racing for those who prefer to enjoy their Auckland sailing from the shore.

As American expats who have been living in and exploring NZ for over 20 years, we see things from both a local’s perspective and from that of a visitor. Therefore, we understand what it’s like to come here and have things be similar, but not always exactly what we are used to. We share the information on this page from this perspective.

Auckland sailing: 9 ways to get out on the water

Join your local yacht club and get involved in racing, sail on one of the heritage ships at the maritime museum.

  • Take a day cruise
  • Add a touch of romance with a sunset dinner cruise
  • Friday afternoon rum racing
  • Ride a ferry out to one of the islands
  • Experience America’s Cup racing yacht

Find a friend who owns a yacht

  • Join the coastguard

There are more than 20 local yacht clubs in the Auckland area (and 108 across the country ).

Each club offers some sort of yacht racing for its members, and some occasionally welcome guests. Importantly, every racing team needs a crew.

This is how we got started in Auckland sailing before we bought our yacht. Jeff and I crewed together on a mixed team, and I crewed on a women’s team.

By the time we got our yacht, we already belonged to a local club that offers winter afternoon racing, summer Wednesday twilight racing, and summer weekend cruising races out to one of the local islands.

Here are shots from race night:

Twilight Racing on the Huraki Gulf in New Zealand

The Ted Ashby is a replica ketch-rigged deck scow that takes out passengers for a 1-hour sail from the New Zealand Maritime Museum . Guests can sit back and relax or help hoist the sails. Either way, we loved the experience and the classic views of the city.

This Auckland sailing opportunity is an additional fee for everyone over the museum entry, even for Auckland residents (who enter the museum without a fee). 

Ted Ashby, replica ketch-rigged deck scow sailing in Auckland New Zealand

Take a harbour day cruise or add a touch of romance with a sunset dinner cruise

Joining a charter cruise is one of the easiest ways to enjoy Auckland sailing. And you can do this day or evening.

  • Day cruise Sit back and relax or engage with the crew and participate in the sailing, the choice is yours as you enjoy 90 minutes sailing out in the Waitemata Harbour. Commentary will help you identify some of the city’s iconic sights. Refreshments are included. Check for discounts and reserve your harbour sail here
  • Sunset dinner cruise This adventure kicks off with a welcome drink on the deck. Then, sail off into the sunset with the stunning Auckland skyline as your backdrop. Dinner (ordered in advance) is provided by a top Auckland restaurant that can cater to most dietary requirements. Watch the sunset from the deck, learn a bit of the history of your surroundings, and enjoy your evening. Check for discounts and reserve your sunset dinner cruise here

Dinner sailing cruise in Auckland. Photo courtesy of Explore Group

Friday afternoon rum racing (first prize is a bottle of rum)

Honestly, if you are a yachting fan or just a New Zealander, you will instantly know that Friday afternoon rum racing is one of the best Auckland sailing opportunities.

In fact, it’s your chance to enter the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s Rum Races. (Note that the name refers to the first prize, there is no alcohol involved in this activity.)

However, the best part (to me) is that you race on either Lion New Zealand or Steinlager 2. Both are yachts sailed to impressive victory by Sir Peter Blake, New Zealand’s greatest yachtsman and impressive environmentalist.

New Zealand’s Sir Peter Blake skippered Steinlager 2 to an unprecedented victory in the Whitbread Round the World race (1989/90). It’s the only boat to ever win all six legs on both handicap and line honours. Lion New Zealand earned line honours at the Sydney to Hobart race (1984) and second place in the Whitbread Round the World (1985/86)

No experience is needed, although a moderate level of fitness is required. Sailing alongside an experienced crew, you get hands-on opportunities in 2-3 short (hour-long) social races against other yachts.

Check for discounts and reserve your rum racing afternoon here

Steinlager 2 sm Depositphotos 80892434 S

Ride a ferry out to one of the islands of Hauraki Gulf

Ferries run from Auckland out to several of the Hauraki Gulf islands every day. Some are used by commuters, others by visitors. They are a great way to get out on the water with the added bonus of an adventure on one of the islands before taking a return ferry back to Auckland.

Some of our favourite island adventures include:

  • Waiheke Island Spend a day wine tasting at the beach or just relaxing in this sub-tropical paradise. Waiheke has it all. It’s a great weekend destination and even better if you have a week. Best of all, depending on the day you choose, there are great discounts out there for the walk-on ferry and even for the car ferry. Reserve a seat on the ferry to Waiheke Island or reserve a seat and your car on a ferry to Waiheke
  • Rangitoto Island Climb to the summit of Auckland’s youngest volcano and discover lava caves, a massive pohutukawa forest, and impressive views. Check for discounts and reserve your ferry ticket to Rangititio Island here
  • Kawau Island (ferry from Sandspit) This one follows the longest mail run by watercraft in the Southern Hemisphere. Once on Kawau check out some of the historic sites like the mansion house, go for a hike, discover a Māori Pa, and explore the old copper smelter. Check for discounts and reserve your Kawau Island ferry here
  • Rotoroa Island An interesting historical island, it was the longtime home to the Salvation Army’s addiction treatment centre. There is plenty of hiking options, a wildlife sanctuary, and sandy beaches. Bring a picnic lunch, have a swim, and enjoy your day. Reserve your tickets to Rotoroa Island here

Several ferries either coming in or going out at the Auckland ferry terminal

Experience America’s Cup racing yachts

One of the most unique ways to enjoy some Auckland sailing is a two-hour adventure onboard a former America’s Cup yacht.

Guests have the opportunity to participate in the thrills of sailing in a proper racing yacht. Take the helm, grinders, or lines as the boat races along the Waitemata Harbour in the same waters that hosted America’s Cup races in 2000, 2003, and 2021.

No sailing experience is required to participate, and if you don’t want to participate, simply sit back and enjoy the journey as the yachts sail past the city landscape.

Check for discounts and join an America’s Cup Sailing Tour in Auckland here

Yachting in New Zealand - Princess Kate racing against Prince William race against each other on former America's Cup boats.

Royals raced in 2014

Princess Kate raced alongside Dean Barker while Prince William was with Grant Dalton. The friendly race resulted in a 2:0 win for the princess, breaking Dean Barkers’ losing steak.

Grant Dalton eloquently explained away his loss to the media, “ We were just following the protocol handed down from the palace a couple of days ago that the princess had to win .”

Royals Racing in Auckland

If it’s true that one in four Aucklanders has a boat, then this should be easy. However, in practice, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Westhaven marina 6270052

Join the Coastguard

The Royal New Zealand Coastguard is a volunteer organization with the vision “ No boaties’ lives lost at sea “. Over 2,000 volunteers participate in bringing people home safely from disasters at sea as well as safety education and training.

While just wanting to get out on the water isn’t a great reason to join the Coastguard, if you are passionate about being out on the water and want to help others, it just may be the right opportunity for you.

If you are interested in discovering what you can do or getting more information on volunteering, head to the Coastguard’s volunteer information page .

coast guard 3010056

Watch Auckland sailing: major yacht racing events in Auckland

Auckland often hosts an event around international races such as America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, visits from British royalty, and the tall ship festival. There is information on the ships and often opportunities to board the boats, or at least get a closer look.

Team New Zealand in race 6 of the America's Cup World Series, Dec 2020

A few key Auckland sailing race events

  • America’s Cup racing America’s Cup is the world’s oldest and most prestigious sporting trophy, and Auckland is proud to have been the defending champions, therefore the host of the last race. New Zealand is the current holder of the coveted America’s Cup. In fact, this win for Emirates Team New Zealand was the second in a row and the fourth since 1995. The highly sought-after Cup resides at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, situated at Westhaven Marina.
  • Tall ship racing The Auckland Tall Ship Festival was the culmination event following a 1200 nautical mile race from Sydney, Australia to the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. These tall ships are 100% manually operated, taking up to 25 minutes to bring around (turn the boat). After a short rest, the boats sailed as a fleet to Auckland for the festival.
  • Volvo Ocean Race Round the World – New Zealand stopover With a new sponsor, the Whitbread Round the World race is now the Volvo Ocean Race Around the World. Racing every three years, the teams take about 9 months to complete the course. There are stopovers in a variety of cities, usually including Auckland, where the city has a huge display and match races.
  • Flying boat racing Nicknamed “flying boats,” this class of WASZPs are small, single-man sailing vessels, each with two foils attached to the underside. These lift the hull out of the water, allowing it to “fly” at twice the speed of the wind. There are about 60 of these vessels in New Zealand, and nearly half competed in the 2016 national championships (photo above) held on Manly Beach, Whangaparaoa, Auckland.
  • Flying Fifteens national championships in Auckland The Flying Fifteen are the world’s most popular single-design keel-boat class. It’s a high-performance dinghy with a waterline length of 15 feet that can reach speeds of 14 knots on a reach.

Read next: 15 Adventure Activities in Auckland with Summer Discounts

Save on your NZ trip with these resources

These are our go-to companies when we travel. We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.

  • Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
  • Accommodations: we use Booking.com (hotels), Bookabach (self-contained in NZ), or Hostelworld (budget).
  • Cars (gas or electric): we use RentalCars to search for deals and dealer ratings.
  • Motorcycles : we have heard good things about BikesBooking .
  • Campervans or Motorhomes : we use Campstar where Albom Adventures readers get a 3% discount.
  • Activity discounts : we check Bookme.com for discounts of up to 70% on activities.
  • Private guides : we love the private guides at Tours by Locals .
  • Travel Insurance: while not required, we always opt for travel insurance and start at InsureMyTrip to compare coverage plans.

Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.

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Auckland sailing at its best

On the water or watching from the shore, how do you prefer to enjoy Auckland sailing?

More from Auckland you might also like … starting with these 75 free and nearly free things to do in the city

Auckland Jet Boat races along the waterfront

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At the Mount Eden volcano summit overlooking the crater and the skyline of Auckland city

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Sachie's cooking class is one of our favourite , one of many fun date ideas Auckland

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For more tips … join Explore New Zealand, the country’s largest NZ travel and photography group on Facebook (free).

About Rhonda Albom

Capturing the essence of travel through photography, Rhonda Albom is the primary author and photographer at Albom Adventures. She is an American expat based in New Zealand. She travels the world with her husband.

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Reader Interactions

December 11, 2023 at 3:12 am

Wow! They let you loose on an America’s Cup yacht? This might be a reason to travel to Auckland, haha! I would love to do this – having sailed at club level I know that things sometimes turn hectic in a race, at least with part timers like us!

Lydia C. Lee

May 10, 2022 at 9:10 am

Even if you live in a harbour city, there’s nothing that takes away the magic of getting out on the water. You’re pics are lovely! We just need some sunshine!

May 2, 2022 at 2:55 pm

Sunset dinner cruise sounds great to me! Although the heritage boats would be a close second – I had no idea that sailing was such a big thing in Auckland!

May 2, 2022 at 1:22 am

Your post makes me want to be out on the water. I never knew you could ask to join a friendly race, and someone might let you. So much fun and excitement!

May 2, 2022 at 1:15 am

Such an awesome blog! I love the sea and sailing etc but my husband gets sea sick which makes things difficult sometimes but I tend to get him to take sea sick tabs if we really can’t miss something! These looks great options!

May 1, 2022 at 11:22 pm

Love sailing and would absolutely love getting out on the water in Auckland. I didn’t realize Team New Zealand had such a great track record!

May 1, 2022 at 9:59 pm

Racing seems fun, but I guess I would go with a cruise… especially during the sunset – sounds like perfection to me. Thank you for putting this together, I will save it for the future!

May 1, 2022 at 3:15 pm

Auckland is so beautiful for sailing. Great ideas on how to get out on the water and enjoy it.

Linda (LD Holland)

May 1, 2022 at 8:00 am

We do love to see a place from a new perspective. So it was great to read that there are so many great ways to see Auckland from the water. Many of these ways certainly would appeal to us. But the rum racing would definitely be top of hubby’s list! Good thing no experience is needed.

April 29, 2019 at 3:24 pm

I would want to to be on the yacht for the race. Those are all beautiful pictures, my favorite is the sunset.

April 29, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Wow, I’ve always wanted to go on a yacht in Auckland, but I have never been at all! This sounds like something I need to try when I go to Auckland (hopefully in the next 2 years)!

April 28, 2019 at 4:08 am

Ah it’s always so manic around there at this time of year. You’ve managed to take fantastic pictures though!

April 28, 2019 at 2:32 am

This sounds so exciting and exhilarating! I’ve never heard of yacht racing, so this post really enlightened me on that!

April 27, 2019 at 11:49 pm

This is such a beautiful read. I am a sailor myself and I could just feel the thrill of racing just looking at your gorgeous photos! Wow! I wish I was there now:))

David Stock

May 25, 2015 at 9:18 am

Looks like fun! Sometime when i have time I’m going to learn how to sail a boat. Been on many sail boat adventures (in the Philippines, New Zealand ) But never joined in and i want to!

Rhonda Albom

May 25, 2015 at 10:45 am

Just find a friendly skipper and ask if you can tag along and help. We often have new sailors on-board. Start with friendly races, rather than highly competitive ones and you will have a better chance of getting on-board.

May 5, 2015 at 9:13 am

These boats are quite the fixture in Auckland’s harbor … can’t wait to sail on one myself!

Indah Nuria Savitri

May 3, 2015 at 1:55 am

fantastic experience…I have been in the yacht once and loving it! wonderful experience you got here..

stevebethere

May 3, 2015 at 1:53 am

Now that looks like fun and need a lot of stamina haha! nice photos especially the sunset one so calming 🙂

Have a waveastic day Rhonda 😉

May 2, 2015 at 10:10 pm

Hi Rhonda – knew I’d get here eventually … and find some Yachts – they are wonderful to see … and I’m so happy your daughter has joined on your sailing adventure.

The Royal has just gone to hospital – so we will have a new Royal any minute now .. appropriate as I came here and you posted about their racing …

Congratulations and see you around .. cheers Hilary

May 1, 2015 at 11:50 am

Lovely! I especially like all the colorful sails.

Janice Trinh

April 30, 2015 at 12:51 pm

That looks like fun, dangerous, and a lot of work! BUT FUN! One thing I’ve always wished is that I didn’t get sea sick every time I go on the ocean. Because if I didn’t, I would definitely try getting on a yacht!

April 30, 2015 at 10:59 am

I miss Auckland city and seeing the yachts and boats out and about in the harbour, I’m a fishing person btw love being out on the water.

Elen @ Elen G

April 30, 2015 at 7:47 am

Oh, my. How fun is that! Some nice shots there, too. Happy yacht racing.

April 30, 2015 at 6:40 am

Oh i would preferto be in the yatch during racing! Love the feeling of being at sea! Superb y from u – great pics:-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh

April 30, 2015 at 3:12 am

That must be a real thrill!

Comedy Plus

April 30, 2015 at 2:51 am

Oh this is an easy question and you already know what I’m going to say. On the yacht of course. Where’s the fun in watching from the shore.

Have a fabulous day. 🙂

Patrick Weseman

April 30, 2015 at 2:27 am

Lovely photos. I went to the America’s Cup in San Francisco, a couple of years ago and got some new respect for sailing.

Thanks for sharing.

Louise Vargas

April 30, 2015 at 2:08 am

Love the Flying Fifteens photo!

Paul F. Pietrangelo

April 30, 2015 at 1:53 am

WOW! Yachting is a powerful thing to do. I give you a lot of credit. It must be great cutting threw the waves. Once again, beautiful photos Rhonda. See ya.

Cruisin Paul

April 29, 2015 at 11:58 pm

The yachts in the second photo look ready for business. Something about the solid colors and their cropped tops (I’m sure this must be the technical term) make them look aggressively awesome.

Julie K Pick

April 29, 2015 at 6:47 pm

I agree with Mary about the rain photos! Those colors are something out of a Monet painting! I also liked the photos with your daughter. It’s so nice that you share many of the same interests.

Mary Denman

April 29, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I like the rain shot the best. What a gorgeous color it created!

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auckland to bay of islands yacht race

<strong>First entries received for inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race </strong>

First entries received for inaugural sydney to auckland ocean race .

The first entries have been received for the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC), and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) hosted inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race, due to start on Saturday, 7 October 2023, at 1 pm.  

Postponed in 2021 due to Covid, this challenging 1250 nautical mile race starts on Sydney Harbour and finishes off the RNZYS in Auckland. It is open to racing and cruising yachts, superyachts, and ocean-racing multihulls. 

Entries already received come from RPAYC’s Mark Griffith with the DK46, LCE Old School Racing and lnity, and Marc Depret’s Figaro 3. Dare Devil, the Cookson 47 owned by Sibby Ilzhofer from Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club in NSW, is also entered.

Griffith commented, “I think it’s going to be a premier race, the longest (from Australia) and an international race. This is the first time anyone gets to do it, so there should be quite a bit of interest and a strong fleet.”

On the dynamics of the race, the yachtsman says, “It will probably be six or seven days. The Sydney Hobart and Melbourne to Hobarts are a sprint by comparison. We will have to pace ourselves more with various conditions.”

The LCE Old School Racing crew plans to take full advantage of the New Zealand end of the race.

‘We’ve got plans to stay over,” Griffith says. “The Coastal Classic is only a week later and gets around 160 entries. We don’t want to miss that. We also plan to cruise to the Bay of Islands (one of the most spectacular places on the planet), and that’s on the way home, so we might leave the boat there and do the Bay of Islands Regatta.  

“This is not something we get to do every day, so we want to go hard at it,” Griffith ends.

On being the first entry in, Sibby Ilzhofer says, “Like the Sydney Noumea (1064 nautical miles), it’ll be challenging. It’s a new race, so it starts our hearts beating again. I think It’ll also bind Australia and New Zealand as sailing nations.”

Ilzhofer continues, “I love New Zealand. Some of my crew from other races in the past are from there. Not only that, Dare Devil is a Cookson boat built in New Zealand. We have a new mast and rigging, also from New Zealand. It’s ready to go in the boat, which has been painted black, has a new black mast and black sails (like the All Blacks),” she laughs. “So, the boat will be heading home in a way.”   

On preparing, the yachtswoman says, “It’s not easy, but the Alfreds have been so helpful. I had a call to see if I needed any help. You don’t get much of that these days. To have internal support makes you feel connected.”

On her expectations, she says, “From a racing perspective, I’d like to see us repeat our fifth over the line behind the big boats in the Sydney Noumea race.

“From a crew perspective, I want a cohesive team that works well together. I like to run a calm crew with good teamwork. So I’ll be building that team over the next six months.”

The inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race has been timed to allow prospective competitors to compete on the northern circuit in Queensland beforehand and to be back in Australia in time for the Rolex Sydney Hobart and Melbourne to Hobart yacht races.

Alternatively, entrants can stay in New Zealand to take advantage of the famous Coastal Classic in late October. There is also the option of staying longer to cruise and take in the Bay of Islands Sailing Week in late January 2024.

Entries for the Category 1 Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race close on 1 September 2023. For all information, including access and Notice of Race, please visit: www.sydneytoauckland.com

By Di Pearson/RPAYC media

Back-to-back wins for Hyde and his Waitemata Racing Team

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is New Zealand’s leading yacht club, with an illustrious history dating back to our formation in 1871. The RNZYS is still the official home of the America’s Cup after Emirates Team New Zealand, representing the RNZYS, defended the oldest sporting trophy in the world at the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland in 2021. The RNZYS has a wide range of events taking place to mark this momentous occasion. With thousands of races per calendar year, many social events and a Members Bar open seven days a week, we invite you to join us and enjoy what we have to offer.

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Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Inc 181 Westhaven Drive, Westhaven Marina, Auckland 1011, New Zealand (09) 360-6800

The City of Sails and Beyond | Auckland to Bay of Islands

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auckland to bay of islands yacht race

Perched between Waitemata and Manukau harbors, Auckland offers a buzzing mix of culture, nightlife and restaurants. Spend your first day exploring the “City of Sails.” Take to the water and race in an America’s Cup yacht or bungee jump from Auckland’s Sky Tower.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

Cruise from the harbor to the trendy island of Waiheke. Lying just off the mainland, the island is known as the “Hamptons” of Auckland. Step ashore to explore the island’s growing food and wine scene, stunning beaches and eclectic art galleries. Enjoy the island’s wineries where you will find unique New Zealand wines based on cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, cabernet franc and chardonnay grape varieties.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

The Coromandel Peninsula is the perfect anchorage for all manner of watersports activities including kayaking, snorkeling, wakeboarding and water skiing.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

Cruise to the furthermost reaches of the Hauraki Gulf to Great Barrier Island. Barrier is the largest island off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island and provides beautiful sheltered anchorages to the west. Visited by Captain Cook in 1769, the island was so named because it was believed to be sheltering the Hauraki Gulf from the storms of the Pacific.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

Formed from a chain of volcanoes that eroded millions of years ago, the underwater caves, tunnels and arches of Poor Knights Islands are fed by a warm current. The subtropical reefs are home to sharks, coral fish, turtles and orca, and on occasion you might even spot migrating whales.

auckland to bay of islands yacht race

The Bay of Islands comprises 144 islands, the majority of which are home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world. It was here that Queen Victoria’s government and the indigenous Maori chiefs signed the document ceding the islands to the British Empire in 1840. Spend a few days exploring the archipelago before cruising overnight to Auckland to disembark.

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  12. Auckland's Yacht Wired Sails to Victory in Coastal Classic Race

    10/20/2023 0 In a thrilling testament to superior design and skill, Auckland's very own yacht "Wired" has emerged victorious in the eagerly anticipated Coastal Classic yacht race. Covering the challenging route between Auckland to Russell, situated in the picturesque Bay of Islands, Wired crossed the finish line a few ticks before 8pm.

  13. Regatta calendar

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  14. @piccoastalclassic Auckland to Russell Bay of Islands #yacht race pre

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  15. New Zealand's Millennium Cup superyacht regatta moves to Auckland

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  16. Bay of Islands Sailing Week

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    The Kokako Rescue boat from the Coastguard Bay of Islands service was nearby and rushed to help the crew, who had been taking part in the Coastal Classic race from Auckland to Russell.

  18. The Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race

    The trans-Tasman rivalry is set to reignite when the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club's (RPAYC) inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race, which starts on Saturday, 7 October 2023 at 1pm, from Sydney Harbour and finishes in Auckland, New Zealand.

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    The Auckland Tall Ship Festival was the culmination event following a 1200 nautical mile race from Sydney, Australia to the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. These tall ships are 100% manually operated, taking up to 25 minutes to bring around (turn the boat). After a short rest, the boats sailed as a fleet to Auckland for the festival.

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  21. First entries received for inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race

    There is also the option of staying longer to cruise and take in the Bay of Islands Sailing Week in late January 2024. Entries for the Category 1 Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race close on 1 September 2023. For all information, including access and Notice of Race, please visit: www.sydneytoauckland.com. By Di Pearson/RPAYC media

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  23. First entries received for inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race

    The first entries have been received for the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC), and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) hosted inaugural Sydney to Auckland Ocean Race, due to start on Saturday, 7 October 2023, at 1pm.