From Fiordland to Wellington Harbour – NZ’s Best Sailing Destinations


New Zealand is adored for many reasons, with the stunning landscape and ripe produce enjoyed by millions of visitors each year. Beyond the beautiful sauvignon blanc and Queenstown beauty is the country’s sailing spots that need to be seen to be believed. If you have long wished to explore the waters of New Zealand, here are the top destinations to visit by boat.

Bay of Islands

One cannot visit New Zealand without taking in the beauty found in the Bay of Islands. Making up of 144 islands in total, Bay of Islands sets the scene for Coastal Classic, an annual inshore race which draws in sailers in the know. Coastal Classic takes place at the end of October and is an experience you shouldn’t miss. You won’t find a catamaran for sale in New Zealand for long in this area, with the vast Bay offering up so much to explore. The sheer size of the area means that you could be joining hundreds of yachts each day, and likely you see none at all. As for the islands themselves, many sailors will drop anchor and wander the white sand sub-tropical islands.


This heritage-listed site is like something from a postcard. Fiordland is found on the South Island of New Zealand, with the inlet coming from the Tasman Sea. If Fiordland looks familiar when you start sailing through, you may have seen it in a scene of Lord of the Rings. More than a few people have referred to this beautiful place as the eighth wonder of the world, but don’t be fooled by the placid beauty of Fiordland. The waters are incredibly deep and mysterious, perfect for your next boating experience.

Wellington Harbour

When you are on foot, being in the world’s windiest city can be a problem. For sailors, it’s nothing but an exciting experience on the water with those strong winds guiding your exploration. You will see a wide variety of boast styles and sizes on Wellington Harbour, with the Bay home to 13 yacht clubs. Many seafarers visit only the harbour when they visit New Zealand, with many saving these hallowed waters for the annual Volvo Ocean Race. This is a sight to behold, and a great experience if you can time your visit with the spectacle.

Marlborough Sounds

This gem can also be found on the South Island, and it’s a known fact that this gorgeous collection of drowned river valleys is one of the best kept maritime secrets. Bays, coves, labyrinths and islands are found here in droves. Adding to the dramatic landscape is the fact that there is a Russian cruise ship wreckage beneath the water which has created something of an artificial reef which continues to amaze divers.

Nelson Tasman

Nelson Tasman presents almost an Australian backdrop to sailers to visit, with the warm temperate and tropical foliage that populates the island. Taking to these waters is never a dull experience, as the area is home to many wildlife specifies. Seals, dolphins, seabirds and even orcas can be seen on deck in large quantities. You’ll be torn between staying on board to spot the animals, or roaming the National Park that exists on the island.


These are just five of the many gorgeous destinations that can be visited by boat on your next sailing trip to New Zealand. While we’re sure you will make your way to each spot in due time, try and time those visits with the annual activity and races that take place. Either to participate or to experience these sacred spots without all the boats and fanfare.

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