Bay of Islands Yacht Charter Guide

The Bay of islands has been a haven for sailors since the very earliest settlement of New Zealand. A bareboat yacht charter here offers sailing conditions second to none, with numerous scenic, secluded anchorages within easy distance of each other. The coastline extending north and south from the Bay, with its spectacular scenery and sheltered coves to rest in, provides countless fantastic places to explore. This is where we chose to take our holidays when sailing home waters. We know it well and want to share it, so take a tip and plan your next sailing holiday here.

About Yacht Charters in the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is 120 miles by sea north of Auckland, a three-hour drive or one-hour flight. In the heart of Northland on the more sheltered east coast, This area has a generally warmer climate than the rest of New Zealand. In fact northern NZ is almost sub-tropical, making it ideal for sailing in spring and autumn as well as the peak summer period.

Aptly named, the Bay is studded with islands that unfold in a collection of diverse landscapes and unspoiled sailing grounds. There are a huge number of anchorages, great fishing and diving to be done and white sandy beaches to laze on, all within sheltered waters. 

Approaching the Bay of Islands from seaward brings forth the landmarks that guard its entrance. Cape Brett, remembered for its famous 'hole in the rock', marks the south-eastern entrance, while its partner the Ninepin 11 miles beyond marks the north-western. Both outcrops are excellent fishing spots.

Within the Bay of islands sailing distances between the islands are short and peaceful scenic anchorages plentiful. Take time out to visit Motuarohia (Roberton Island) with its twin lagoons, Moturoa Island and its walking trails, Urupukapuka's farmlands, sandy beaches and stunning cliff-top views. 

The mainland settlements of Kerikeri, Paihia, Waitangi and Russell are all historic holiday towns, with plenty of restaurants and places for provisioning. Russell was the first European settlement in New Zealand, once the "Hellhole of the Pacific" but now a pleasant place with lots of boutique shops. Anchored off Russell beach is a popular and safe spot for an overnight stay. 

Opua is the deep-water port with marina and yacht servicing area, located.close to Paihia. Just to the north are the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the indigenous Maori signed the Treaty of Waitangi Agreement with the British Crown in 1840. The importance of this place to New Zealand's cultural heritage is explained at the Waitangi Visitor Centre in the Treaty House.

Northward beyond the Bay of Islands are the Cavalli Island group. These national park islands are  exceptional, particularly for the snorkeling and diving possible in the crystal-clear waters that lie in an expansive sheltered area between islands. Further north again a short sail brings you to Whangaroa,with its majestic fjord-like landscape, towering pinnacles overlooking a tightly enclosed harbour.

To the south is Tutukaka, a resort town convenient by road to the city of Whangarei. Tutukaka is home to a thriving big game fishing industry, and a base for operators taking visitors to explore the depths around the famed Poor Knight Islands. 


New Zealand's climate is temperate. The best time to take a boating holiday in New Zealand is during the warmer, drier months of November to April. The prevailing winds are from the westerly quadrant, south-west through north-west Beaufort 1- 4 between November and April. There is a tidal range of around two metres.

Being further north than Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf, the Bay of Islands generally enjoys somewhat warmer temperatures and sunnier skies, making it the perfect cruising destination. 

Our Charter Services

At Sail Connections we make planning your bareboat or crewed yacht charter easy and enjoyable. Our team members have sailed in New Zealand most of our lives, and we would be delighted to share with you our favourite anchorages, places to go and things to do.

We can advise on getting around New Zealand and accommodation options before and after your charter, enabling you to make the best possible use of your time in this premier travel destination, including connections to/from your charter boat.

Enquire Now - Click Here   or view our bareboats and crewed yachts.

The Sail Connections Guarantee

One contact - every option - advice you can trust.

  • Matching any competitive offer 
  • Sourcing boats with discounts available
  • Personalising our proposal just for you
  • Qualifying the operator as well as the boat
  • Advising without bias based on 25+ years of experience

We will match any discount website offer on charter boat price, and still provide our customary high level of service. We do more than just book yachts!

Read our free charter guide for all you need to know about planning your sailing holiday.

Yachts in the Bay of Islands

Beneteau 57
Beneteau 57 - 61' (18.6m) 8 Guests
Elan 43
Elan 43 - 43' (13.1m) 6 Guests

Enquire about the Bay of Islands

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