Of all the islands best suited to navigating via sailboat, sailing in New Zealand perhaps takes the cake as the most idyllic coastal landscape that the world has to offer. With its sloping coastline and a horizon molded by verdant, monumental mountains, there’s nothing quite like this humble tiny island amidst the gentle, blue Pacific.
However, beginner sailors should know some things before looking at yacht sales in New Zealand, namely, what your route should look like and what sights are an absolute must-see. There is just so much to cram into a coastal voyage about New Zealand, but the sights you’ll find below are genuine ones you won’t want to miss.
Here’s a skipper’s guide to sailing in New Zealand.
A Guide to Sailing in New Zealand
Picturesque perspectives at the Bay of Islands
Our guide to sailing in New Zealand will be starting from the northernmost sights of North Island and working our way down to the nation’s breathtaking South Island. While some sailors may claim that South Island is far more ethereal than New Zealand’s North Island, witnessing the Bay of Islands situated north of Auckland will likely put that claim to shame.
The Bay of Islands is home to a plethora of New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches and islands, as well as some precious cultural sites, like Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where New Zealand’s Treaty of Waitangi was signed, sealing the nation’s independence from colonial rule.
You may also get to see some wild whales and dolphins in the crystal clear waters around Paihia Wharf!
Piha Beach and Auckland’s other hidden gems
Moving a bit further south and to the west, you’ll be sailing in New Zealand across the coastline of the majestic city of Auckland, a bustling urban center which, from the coastline, almost seems nestled amidst dynamic forests, mountains, and waterfalls.
There’s no shortage of sights to see, even just less than an hour’s drive out of Auckland, but when you’re on your very own yacht, this incredibly vibrant locale truly becomes your oyster!
Explore the brilliant and expansive Waitakere ranges from the comfort of your vessel, or drop your anchor nearby and head out on some day hikes to visit the region’s most beloved landmarks, like the Karekare Falls.
A long day of trekking through the rainforest will likely bring you back to the west coast, where you’ll find the world-renowned Piha beach, with its majestic Lion Rock and striking black sands, colored with iron that scientists have traced back to the region’s volcanic origins.
Lake Taupo: New Zealand’s inland sailing escape
New Zealand is a country with many unquestionably unique seaside sights, but it’s North Island’s Lake Taupo that may prove to be the nation’s most impressive sailing experience by far.
Lake Taupo is the world’s largest lake by surface area, measuring at around 616 square kilometers and being a whopping 46km long, with an average depth of 110m. This immense freshwater lake sits in the caldera of the region’s Taupo Volcano, meaning it’s of totally natural origins and a testament to New Zealand’s generally stunning and dynamic landscape.
Alongside sailing across the vast expanse of this freshwater lake, the Taupo region is also an avid spot for fans of fishing and hot springs. Be sure to end your day with a bite at one of Taupo’s many signature restaurants and eateries, and of course, watching the golden sunset upon the Lake’s lustrous waters.
Experience another world in Marlborough and Milford Sound
Moving down to the South Island, there are many coastal gems that you should add to your itinerary. The Marlborough Sounds, with its intricate seascape of sunken river valleys void of any signs of civilization, save the dorsal fins of dolphins that dot the waters across the horizon.
Suppose you’re sailing from North to South Isl. In that case, nd, you may find yourself in the Marlborough Sounds on your way to the town of Picton’s Waitohi Wharf, or even sailing alongside the Interislander Ferry that carries New Zealanders and tourists alike across New Zealand’s Cook Strait.
However, our guide would not be complete without exploring the immense, otherworldly region of Milford Sound, a fiord found on the southwest coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Of all the seascapes this idyllic island nation has to offer, Milford Sound is perhaps the most incredible sailing experience any young skipper is likely to have in their life.
Navigating the beautiful waters of this dynamic region will transport you back to the dawn of civilization itself. The still waters of the cove and the region’s untouched coastline take on an almost prehistoric air that’ll have you in awe of not just New Zealand but the many wonders of this little globe we call home.
Bearing witness to Milford Sound in your very own vessel will likely invigorate your sailing senses for a lifetime, prepping you to embark on even more coastal voyages across the world.
The Pacific Ocean is home to many must-see gems and experiences that will be valuable to sailors from all backgrounds. New Zealand is by no means the only destination worth seeing in the Pacific, but we will argue it is well worth being the backdrop of your first coastal voyage.
So source your very own yacht and set sail across the sloping coastlines that await! Sailing in New Zealand is bound to be an adventure you will never forget.