The Best Locations for Sailing in New Zealand
With more than 15,000km (9,320 miles) of coastline and tens of large lakes to explore, New Zealand is a fantastic country to experience sailing. Not only that, sailing is ingrained in the culture here as it’s how the early Maori to the first European settlers arrived on the islands of New Zealand. The means of transport has now become a much-loved sport that you can either experience as a luxury cruise or fast-paced racing yacht among the many sailing tours in New Zealand.
So whether you are looking for a peaceful and eco-friendly way to soak up the coastal scenery of New Zealand or want to mix adventure with snorkelling or even sailing an America’s Cup yacht, you’ll find the right sailing experience in New Zealand for you. Take a look at the list below of the best sailing locations around the country.
Let’s start with the obvious: The City of Sails! Auckland is a world-class sailing location for competitive sailing around the world including the America’s Cup. There are many sailing experiences to be had from New Zealand’s most popular sailing harbour from hands-on competition sailing yacht experiences to laid-back luxuries sailing cruises. Check out more things to do in Auckland at 10 Auckland Must-Dos.
Location: Auckland Central, Auckland North Island.
2. Marlborough Sounds
With sheltered waters and views of forested mountains seemingly emerging from the ocean, the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most stunning sailing locations in New Zealand. Explore the Kenepuru Sounds of the top of the South Island along with all its hidden bays and inlets. Add more amazing experiences to your Marlborough itinerary with these 5 Marlborough Sounds Must-Dos.
Location: Marlborough Sounds, Marlborough, South Islands.
For the ultimate summer sailing adventure, take a sailing charter from Whakatane to off-shore bird sanctuary islands. As well as seeing wildlife on the islands, you’ll also get the opportunity to grab some snorkelling gear and see what lies beneath the waters too! Check out more things to do in Whakatane in our 11 Amazing Things to Do in Whakatane.
Location: Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, North Island.
4. Bay of Islands
With 144 islands dotted off the coast of Paihia, you can imagine there is a lot to explore! Enjoy the tranquillity of sailing while stopping off at different islands, sitting back with a drink, spotting marine wildlife, or even going for a snorkel. Plus, by being in the warmest region of New Zealand, sailing in the Bay of Island often feels like sailing in paradise. Find more things to do in the Bay of Islands here.
Location: Paihia, Northland, North Island.
Akaroa Harbour is simply a mind-blowing place to explore. The harbour off the coast of Christchurch is, in fact, the crater of an ancient volcano, with remnants of its volcanic past evident in the towering coastal cliffs. What’s more, the harbour is a hotspot for native marine wildlife from Hector’s dolphins to blue penguins. On almost every sailing tour in Akaroa, the dolphins will ride the waves on the bow of the yacht. Check out more awesome experiences in Akaroa in our 10 Things We Love About Akaroa.
Location: Akaroa, Canterbury, South Island.
6. Lake Taupo
Sailing in the crater of the world’s second-largest volcano is a pretty awesome feeling. What’s more awesome is the fact that sailing tours on Lake Taupo take wanderlustful travellers to see the Maori Rock Carvings carved 14m high into the cliff sides of Lake Taupo. For more ways to make the most of your stay in Taupo, take a look at our 10 Taupo Must-Dos.
Location: Taupo, Waikato, North Island.
One of the more “premium” sailing locations on this list of sailing tours in New Zealand is at Lake Rotoiti in Rotorua. Explore this lake with stunning landscapes and rich in history aboard a luxury catamaran sailing yacht. Stop off at hidden bays, swim or paddleboard in isolated coves, and kick back with a drink as you drift across the tranquil lake. Check out more Rotorua experiences here.
Location: Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, North Island.
8. Lake Te Anau
Soak in the scenery of Fiordland National Park onboard a historic yacht. The calm waters of Lake Te Anau with its surroundings carved by glaciers is an amazing sight to experience by yacht. Sailing cruises on Lake Te Anau is also an opportunity to sample delicious local cuisine and beverages. Check out more things to do in Te Anau in our 5 Te Anau Must-Dos.
Location: Te Anau, Southland, South Island.
More Related to Sailing in New Zealand
- 12 Stunning Backpacker Cruises in New Zealand
- 10 Largest Lakes in New Zealand
- 7 Water Activities in the Bay of Islands
Plus, for alternative activities, head over to our 101 Things to Do in New Zealand: The Ultimate List.