Bay Of Islands Cruising Guide
Practical Boat Owner|September 2020
Bay Of Islands Cruising Guide
Huw Williams visits New Zealand’s irresistible Bay of Islands
Huw Williams

If you were tempted by my cruising guide to the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland (PBO July 2020), you may wish to make the most of the extremely long haul flight by combining your visit there with another wonderful Antipodean destination – New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. Unlike the Whitsundays there are almost no large predators; you’ll be significantly closer to the top of the food chain. So maybe visit here first…

When Captain Cook arrived in 1769, he wrote, ‘I have named it the Bay of Islands because of the great number which line its shores, these helping to form several safe and commodious harbors wherein is room and depth of water for any number of shipping.’

He wasn’t wrong. Add to that stunning scenery, endless perfect anchorages, epic diving and snorkeling, and arguably the best fishing on the planet. Oh, and world-class seafood.

When to go

You’ve heard about the unpredictable Kiwi weather? Four seasons in one day? Fortunately, it doesn’t really apply here. The Bay of Islands is situated about 150 miles north of Auckland on the east coast of Northland, an area the locals call the ‘winterless north’. That’s not strictly true, but with a winter low of about 10°C and a summer high of around 30°C, it’s not far off a perfect climate. January and February are the warmest months. I’ve visited several times from January through to April and have yet to see a single raindrop.

Winds are predominantly south-westerly and occasionally the weak tail end of a tropical cyclone makes a brief and benign appearance. It’s a sailing dream come true.

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September 2020