View over the Bay of Islands from the Treaty Ground at Waitang
This stunning area, studded with dozens of picturesque islands, along with sheltered estuaries and well developed marine facilities, ranks as one of the world’s best cruising areas in its own right. However, its location in the far north of New Zealand’s north island means the Bay of Islands is best known as the most popular first stop for cruising yachts heading south to escape the cyclone season at the end of a Pacific crossing
The bay is a flooded valley, measuring roughly six miles from north to south and 10 miles from east to west, with a total of 144 islands. In addition, the extensive estuary system has some 20-plus miles of navigable water, although some of the upper reaches are only accessible to shallow draught yachts. There are innumerable anchorages with all-round shelter, along with some of the best marine facilities in the Pacific region.
Russell: Looking over the anchorage at Russell
The main marinas are at Opua, one of a number of townships scattered around in the bay, and near the entrance of the Kerikeri estuary, with around 500 berths available in total. The area is in general sparsely populated, although other townships include Waitangi, where the New Zealand declaration of independence was signed in 1835, along with Russell and Pahia. Nevertheless, there has always plenty of boating activity taking place here, with both the local and cruising communities involved, and there’s a host of boating and sailing clubs.
The city of Whangarei, with a population of 60,000 is just 40 miles south by road (although somewhat further by sea), while the capital Auckland, which has arguably the best yachting infrastructure of any capital city is around three hours’ drive to the south. Formalities on entering New Zealand include customs and immigration checks on arrival. Once these are complete a yacht is allowed to remain in the country’s waters for up to two years.