New Zealand as a Cruising Destination
Posted on by Kris Fothergill
New Zealand as a Cruising Destination.
A family of six living on our yacht Torea VI, with aspirations to explore the world via sail boat… well that’s the plan. We are the Fothergill family and we crossed our first ocean as a young family, from Australia to New Caledonia in 2019.
Since then, Torea VI, a Dufour Gib’Sea 51’, has taken us to some uniquely remote locations where we have been blessed to explore different cultures, all while spending priceless quality time as a family.
We are currently finishing up our summer of sailing the North Island of New Zealand. Admittedly this time last year we had no idea we would be sailing to and around New Zealand…. but here we are; and what a great decision it was to head South…
We arrived in Opua late October 2019; after an uneventful (in a good way) six-day passage from New Caledonia.
After finding our feet and getting the lay of the land (we purchased the Sail New Zealand Cruising guide) we headed out into the Bay of Islands to discover it for ourselves. Our initial impressions were – Wow! there are a lot of islands, bays and anchorages to explore.
One thing that stood out to us was the closeness of the islands and anchorages; there is very little need to sail more than a few hours (unless you wanted to) before you are discovering a whole new place.
Keep in mind, we started our journey on the East Coast of Australia (Gold Coast to be precise); where the sailing is largely coastal cruising, sailing up and down the East coast and ducking over a bar and into sheltered waters to find anchorages. Bar crossings can be an “Experience” and weather and timing are crucial. That being said; when you get north of Fraser Island there are more options to explore (Lady Musgrave, Keppel Islands, Whitsundays), albeit they are circa 300nm up the coast and only safe to cruise from May to October due to the Cyclone season.
We also sailed south from the Bay of Islands exploring Great Barrier Island, Waiheke Island, the Coromandel and all that the Hauraki Gulf has to offer. The Cruising Guide covers all these areas with a ton of useful planning and navigational information.
There has been a fairly substantial quantity of seafood consumed whilst here too; we enjoy spearfishing and a bit of foraging…. and NZ seems to be blessed in this regard. The family favourite has to be kingfish…. mountainous platters of sashimi and sushi have become a staple (noting, a mortgage will likely be needed next time we dine at an actual sushi restaurant). Mussels, crayfish and scallops have also made it onto the dining table of our floating home.
As far as boat work and facilities are concerned; we felt spoilt for choice….. and we have been well impressed with the level of service and professionalism. We hauled out at Opua where we antifouled and ticked off a number of maintenance items that tend to rear their head when sailing the South Pacific Islands. Engine maintenance, sail repair, steering service, alternator rebuild, rigging inspection etc etc, all of which were done with the help of the local marine industry. A special mention to Cater Marine, a world class chandlery; who seem to be able to ‘Houdini’ any required parts, however obscure.
Our plan is to take Torea VI and head back North towards Tonga and Fiji; however the C-19 pandemic has put the brakes on that for now; and we’ll be enjoying NZ hospitality a bit longer. On that note many of the overseas cruisers we’ve met have commented on how well New Zealand has reacted to this event, without exception all have had their visitors visas extended to the end of September with no fuss and no need to apply. Simply an email informing them of the extension.
So, when the brakes finally come off and you’re looking for a fabulous destination at the end of the season we can thoroughly recommend New Zealand.
Find out more about the 2021 Destination New Zealand