Written by Missy Johnston
Bay of Islands
Arrive in Auckland and travel by car three hours north to the Bay of Islands, New Zealand’s most popular cruising destination. You may want to first stop for lunch in charming Whangarei. The huge Bay of Islands is dotted with 150 islands, many in a maritime park. Board your yacht at the deepwater port of Opua, and spend the rest of the day settling in and adjusting to the time change. Otherwise, get some exercise on the Opua Forest Track, which takes you through strands of mature kauri trees and breathtaking lookout points over the bay.
After breakfast cruise to the Waikare Inlet. Amazing mangrove forests abound with oysters that have escaped from neighboring marine farms. After a day of fishing or enjoying water sports, anchor off Russell or Paihia for a dinner of local specialties. Russell was New Zealand’s first capital and a favorite haunt of Zane Grey. No visit to the Bay of Islands is complete without a visit to Waitangi where the country’s founding document was signed with Maori chiefs in 1840.
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast before cruising to Opito Bay, a large area with swinging room for about 80 boats and enormous pohutukawa trees that overhang a fine swimming beach. The water in the inlet is clean and warm and is regularly visited by dolphins. Spend the day fishing and kayaking, two activities that showcase the area’s abundance and diversity of sea life. You may want to enjoy the catch of the day at dinner.
Waterfalls in Kerikeri
Head across to the northern side of the Bay around the remarkable flat-topped Black Rocks and arrive at the mouth of the Kerikeri inlet. A cruise up the inlet ends at the Stone Store, New Zealand’s oldest building, where a car from the café will take you to Kerikeri Township with its historic buildings, local orchard produce, and the art-and-craft trail.
Cruise past the famous Hole-in-the-Rock and north of the Bay of Islands to view many unforgettable beaches, including Matuari Bay, Tauranga Bay, Coopers Beach and Cable Bay. You may want to stop for a swim at one or a few of them. Sail up the coast to anchor among the jewel-like Cavalli Islands. There are bays to explore inshore and fish to catch offshore. Divers may enjoy exploring the wreck of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, which was bombed by saboteurs.
Whangaroa Bay and Harbour
After breakfast cruise north to the towering, fjord-like cliffs of Whangaroa Bay. The water is surprisingly deep and the harbor is rife with history. No longer a commercial port, it was one of the last centers of a booming kauri lumber trade. The Kingfish Lodge at the mouth of the harbor is accessible only by water and is regularly filled with movie stars and vacationing entrepreneurs.
Waiheke Island Vineyards
A day’s run will take you back to the Huraki Gulf and ready to cruise Auckland’s marine playground with visits to beautiful Great Barrier Island and the wineries of Waiheke Island before touring the City of Sails.
Disembark at noon in Auckland