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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We sailed from Fiji to New Zealand in early November. After checking in at Marsden Cove and completing the formalities, we moved up the river to the Whangarei Town Basin marina. Here’s what it was like spending almost two months living aboard in Whangarei.
Whangarei is not pronounced how it looks. Unless you speak Maori. In that case you know that the WH is pronounced as F, so it’s pronounced Fang-Ah-Ray.
We enjoyed living aboard in Whangarei. It’s the biggest town in the Northland region of New Zealand, with all the amenities we’ve missed since Tahiti. Whangarei’s population is almost 57,000 and it is 155km north of Auckland, which is said to have almost 1.7mm people.
The Town Basin Marina is located on the Hatea river and is walkable to groceries, shops, restaurants and more.
The supermarket across the street is huge and overwhelmingly good. After being in Tonga, where you couldn’t get basic rice, and Fiji, with no cat food or kitty litter, we consider New Zealand the land of plenty. On our first visit to the supermarket, we were overjoyed upon seeing the varieties of lettuce, berries, and yogurt, and the glow hasn’t faded. It doesn’t hurt that we arrived in springtime.
We were lucky to spend a year in French Polynesia, a beautiful and widespread collection of islands and atolls. While we didn’t improve our French language skills, we loved the excellent diving, hiking, and culture. From the Marquesas to the Tuamotus and the Society Islands, these are our best of French Polynesia.
About French Polynesia
French Polynesia has several island groups, but many visitors only go to the Society Islands. You’ve probably heard of Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora. If you can, I recommend exploring the ones you haven’t heard about. The more remote archipelagos of the Marquesas and the Tuamotus are unforgettable. These island chains couldn’t be more different: the Marquesas are lush, mountainous, and full of vegetation. Conversely, the Tuamotus are arid atolls with limited land life and clear waters. We didn’t even make it to other parts of French Polynesia like The Gambiers and Australs. Read on for which locales we think offer the best of French Polynesia.
Two islands in French Polynesia are our favorites for hiking. If you want to go hiking, visit Ua Pou or Moorea. Nuku Hiva also offers a good variety of hikes.
Some islands are just bad for hiking, full of private land and no paths for independent hikers, or they’re flat and featureless. In good news, most of The Marquesas islands have at least one or two hikes that are worth doing.
Ua Pou is good for hiking independantly, but for the big hike, hire a guide. All the hikes involve altitude, and everyone we know who did the cross-island hike alone got lost. The hills are high and the views are stunning, but there’s not much civilization so packing lots of water is a must for any of these treks.
Discovering a truly special place is one of my favorite aspects of this nomadic seafaring life. We recently sailed from French Polynesia to the compact island nation of Niue, spent five nights in Niue and loved every minute of our short visit there!
I hadn’t even heard of Niue a few months ago, and that’s not surprising. Most of its visitors and many of its residents hail from New Zealand. However small, Niue is an impressive country. It left its mark on us!
Niue, which means “Behold the Coconut,” is pronounced Nyoo-Ay.
Niue is a ruggedly beautiful country in the South Pacific Ocean. Itis defined by dramatic high cliffs, which we could see as we approached by boat. This explains why Niue is also known as the Rock of Polynesia.
For sailors, Niue has one safe bay on the western side of the island near the town of Alofi. The bay is very deep almost right next to shore (the cliffs), so Niue’s yacht club installed moorings for boats to tie to for their stay. We were one of the first boats there after several years of Covid lockdowns, so it was exciting for us and the people of Niue!