Boating The Bay of Islands

New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is renowned as a summer destination. The North Island’s water wonderland, we spent a month boating The Bay of Islands. We loved anchoring in cozy bays, hiking uninhabited islands, and visiting historic towns. It’s a great place to visit by sailboat.

About New Zealand’s Bay of Islands

New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is both beautiful and an important historical area. Captain Cook stopped here on his South Pacific voyages and gave it it’s name. Also, the Bay of Islands was the first part of the country to be inhabited by Europeans. Maybe more importantly, it’s the site of the signing of the 1840 Treaty of Waitingi between the British and Maoris.

beach, Boating the Bay of islands
Beach at Urupukapuka Island

Currently, The Bay of Islands is known for beautiful beaches, clear water, and gorgeous scenery. The entire region is called “The Winterless North” because the weather never gets freezing like in other parts of the country. It’s New Zealand’s top cruising ground in the summer. We visited in autumn and fell in love with the region.

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Sailing Around Auckland

Auckland is known as The City of Sails. So many boats sail and anchor in the waters around New Zealand’s biggest city. The islands and bays near Auckland are some great cruising grounds. We enjoyed sailing around Auckland.

Auckland city from the water
Auckland city from the water

Getting to Auckland by Boat

We sailed from Fiji to Whangarei, New Zealand in November, and spent a few months in the marina there. With friends on board in late December, we took our catamaran to several anchorages before berthing in Auckland for a couple of nights.

The anchorages were varied except for a few things: they were all beautiful, very busy with mostly Kiwi boats, and had good holding. Finding a place to anchor is easy. Being a liveaboard is relatively painless when you’re sailing around Auckland.

sailing around Auckland map
The waterways between Whangarei and around Auckland

We spent most of our time motoring or motor sailing around Auckland. The winds were not strong, but they were mostly with us, at least. We chose not to sail further south because the winds get a lot stronger, and further south there are nowhere near as many places to anchor.

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Auckland Favorites

We don’t normally get to spend large chunks of time in big cities on the boat, so we tried to maximize every minute in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city. Our conclusion: we could live there! Auckland is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer, from museums to excursions to food. This post details our Auckland favorites.

About Auckland

I thought it was the capital, but that’s Wellington, at the southern end of the North Island. Instead, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populated city, with nearly 1.7 million people.

Located in the north of the North Island, Auckland is on a narrow isthmus between two large harbors and is known as The City of Sails. With it’s waterfront location, Auckland is home to beautiful beaches, waterfront trails, fish markets, and scores of sailboats. It’s also based around multiple volcanos, great for hiking.

Auckland Harbor
Auckland from the water
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Haapai Tonga

Without a doubt, our favorite part of Tonga was Haapai. We only had a week to spend in this beautiful island group but we enjoyed every minute. Once we found our anchorage, we loved it so much we didn’t move. If you ever visit the Kingdom of Tonga, don’t miss Haapai.

About Haapai Tonga

Ha’apai is pronounced “Ha a pie.” Located south of Vavau, the Haapai island group includes 51 islands plus atolls and coral reefs. We spent our week there in one perfect anchorage, and also walked to the main island a couple of times.

Sailboat anchored in beautifful waters in Tonga
Sava alone in her anchorage in Haapai

After weeks waiting in Vavau for a starting engine, Haapai was just what we needed! Less populated and quieter, we found it beautiful and relaxing.

We anchored by Foa island, home to two resorts and several beautiful beaches. Just south of Foa and across a bridge is Haapai’s main island of Lifuka and the port town of Pangai.

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Huahine Highlights

We are being spoilt by French Polynesian paradise. Case in point is the island of Huahine, one of the Society islands. Located less than a day’s sail from Tahiti, Huahine offers fun on land and water. We spent a week exploring and discovering the Huahine highlights.

About Huahine

Huahine, pronounced “Hoo-a-he-nay” by locals, is part of French Polynesia’s Society islands, with Moorea, Tahiti, Raiatea, and Bora Bora, most notably. The island’s population is around 6,000, bigger than any of the Tuamotus. Since it is close to Tahiti, only 100 miles, the island is easy to visit, accessible by regular flights and ferries from Tahiti.

Sailboat moored in turquoise water, Huahine highlights, French Polynesia
Sava moored in Avea Bay, Huahine

Huahine consists of two islands, Huahine Nui (Big Huahine) and Huahine Iti (Little Huahine), surrounded by fringing coral reefs and little motus. We spent a little over a week exploring this lovely island, visiting three different bays by boat, and cycling around the big island.

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