Having recently returned from the New Zealand Millennium Cup, the pacific’s offering to the superyacht regatta circuit, The Superyacht Owner was treated to some of the cruising that the region has to offer. We speak to those in attendance about their experience of this largely undiscovered superyacht destination.

Currently midway through a circumnavigation, Captain Angus Biffin of 50m Silencio, is anxious to make the most of his first experience cruising Kiwi waters. “I am looking forward to cruising around the Bay of Islands and the islands near Auckland; Waiheke, Great Barrier and Mercury,” he says. “I don't think we will get down south this time, however, the mystic surrounding the fiordlands is alluring.

"I think New Zealand has a lot going for it as a cruising destination mainly due to its island clusters and fiords. The unique contrast between agricultural farmland and marine environment give the place a charming character.”

SY Bliss cruising in the Bay of Islands. Credit: Jeff Brown

Captain Andrew Senn of 34m Sassafras has some local knowledge of the area, and particularly favours the Bay of Islands. “As all the crew are either Kiwi's or New Zealand-based we are all biased when it comes to our opinion of cruising in New Zealand,” he explains. “The Bay is absolutely jam packed with highlights including crayfish and scallop diving, fishing for marlin, kingfish and snapper and totally protected anchorages for both day use and very safe overnights. The short distances within the Bay to a variety of scenery and the proximity to Auckland are real bonuses, and with walks and water-sports there is plenty to keep everyone busy.

“Good quality supplies are easy to find and Russell has a very special atmosphere that must be experienced. In short, the Bay and local area is one of the most unique cruising grounds in which I have spent time at any stage of my 20 year yachting career.”

"The unique contrast between agricultural farmland and marine environment give the place a charming character.”

Debbie Gribble, charter broker at Diverse Projects, adds that there’s plenty more to explore in New Zealand beyond the beautiful Bay of Islands and recommends heading to the other end of the country for a completely different sort of scenery. Here, she suggests an itinerary for making the most of what the South Island has to offer.

12-Day itinerary for Fiordland National Park and the South Island of New Zealand
Day 1: Fly into the breathtaking Milford Sound where you will be met by your crew for a short tender ride to join your yacht at anchor. View New Zealand’s most stunning wilderness area - a World Heritage site - while dining on board with a backdrop of sheer rock faces rising from the sea; some more than 4000 feet above sea level, and an ever-changing landscape of waterfalls and virgin rainforest.

Day 2:
After a sumptuous breakfast, cruise the 50nm to Doubtful Sound. Well known for its wildlife including fur seals, penguins and a resident pod of Bottlenose dolphins, Doubtful Sound is a pristine and dramatic landscape with magnificent unspoiled wilderness. Cruise the full length of the fiord weaving through hidden coves and waterways. Overnight at anchor in a sheltered cove after enjoying a dinner on board in the quiet wilderness.

Day 3: Cruise on from Doubtful Sound to Breaksea Sound, enjoying the 50nm scenic sea passage.

The view of Milford Sound by helicopter

Day 4: Make your way from Breaksea Sound to Preservation Inlet, which was known as Rakituma, ’the threatening sky’, to early Maori settlers. Around 1780 it was the site of two battles between Ngatimamoe and northern tribe, Ngaitahu. Keep a close eye out for remnants from some of New Zealand’s first European settlers, as well as a major whaling station built at Preservation Inlet in 1829. From there, turn the bow to the main town of Oban, Stewart Island.

Day 5, 6 and 7:
Cruise around Stewart Island, including a conservation tour. The island’s densely forested hills, creamy golden sand beaches and untouched coastline of rocky outcrops is one of pure beauty. Dine on famous Bluff oysters, fresh rock lobster and blue cod from the cold waters of Stewart island.

Day 8:
Sail 142nm to Dunedin, Port Otago. On the Otago Peninsula discover the little blue penguin in its natural habitat. Further north at Taiaroa Head the northern royal albatross - a majestic seabird with a wingspan up to three metres, and flying at speeds up to 120kph - is an exhilarating sight.  

Day 9, 10 and 11: Sail 146nm from Port Otago to Banks Peninsula, Akaroa. Spend two days in the beautiful and quaint historical town of Akaroa with its French and English history.

Day 12: Depart from Christchurch.

Look out for an interview with the owner of Silencio about his New Zealand experience in the upcoming issue 16 of The Superyacht Owner, out at the end of February.

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