“Not all those who wander are lost.” With the capability to go farther from home and the more traditional cruising grounds than ever before, many yacht owners and charterers are seizing the opportunity to explore the Earth’s great oceans.
One of the newly favored destinations is, not surprisingly, one of the world’s most beautiful. Known to many as “God’s Own Country,” New Zealand offers scenery beyond compare. Also dubbed, “Paradise in the Pacific,” the country encompasses everything from tropical beaches to sky-high mountains and everything in between.
The adventurous at heart will fall in love with the land of the Kiwis — the colloquial name for New Zealand natives. This seemingly tiny nation spans a great distance from Cape Reinga in the north to Stewart Island in the south. The north island of New Zealand boasts a warm climate with strong sunshine. Cruise here to find stunning sandy islands with breathtaking beaches lapped by crystal-clear waters. The south island of New Zealand is rugged with dramatic coastal cliffs plunging into the sea. The climate here is extreme and changes rapidly. Yachts visiting the deep southern regions will be treated to views of glacial fjords, including Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Even if the weather takes a turn for the stormy, the fjords come alive in the rain as thundering waterfalls pour from lofty precipices, which is a spectacular sight guests won’t soon forget.
There are five main regions of New Zealand to visit during your yacht charter: Auckland, Northland, Coromandel, Nelson and Marlborough Sounds and Southland (Milford Sound).
Auckland is known as the City of Sails. Its unique waterfront position, with ocean access, encourages yachts and boats to visit. From the America’s Cup races to the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, Auckland has been part of sailing’s most prestigious events. In addition to its yachting ties, cosmopolitan city offers high-end shopping and five-star restaurants — waterfront dining is a must while in town.
Once you’ve had enough of the city life, head for the Hauraki Gulf. More than 50 islands await your exploration; the most famous of these is Rangitoto Island. Climb to the top of its volcanic peak for breathtaking views. If you fancy a beach day, Waiheke Island makes a good choice. In addition to its stunning sands, the island has many restaurants and vineyards to discover. Finally, nature lovers will fall head over heels for Tiritiri Matangi Island. This wildlife sanctuary is the perfect place to get back to nature. While in the Hauraki Gulf area, keep your eyes peeled for the vast array of sea life — including dolphins and whales — that calls the gulf its home.
The luxurious Northland region of New Zealand is home to lavish lodges and mountainside golf courses, including Kauri Cliffs Lodge in Matauri Bay. Fishermen will enjoy dropping a line in the Bay of Islands, which comprises more than 150 islands of secluded coves and stunning scenery. Russell and Whangaroa are two of the largest fishing ports in the Northland area.
The natural wonders, including protected tropical rainforests and marine reserves, of the Coromandel Peninsula will breathe magic into your adventure. Visit Hot Water Beach, which offers hot springs and a cave system linking Cathedral Cove to Mare’s Leg cove. Dive enthusiasts will be tempted to take a peek under the sea near the Mercury and Alderman Islands, which lie off the coast of Coromandel. Here you’ll find abundant reef systems of black coral and deep sea drop offs. With underwater visibility of more than 30 meters, it’s not to be missed. Cave diving also is a possibility.
Known for its sunny disposition, Nelson is the perfect place for beach lovers. Abel Tasman National Park’s golden sands beckon. Two other national parks can be found in the Nelson area, all boasting some of the most fertile soil in the country. Not only do flora and fauna thrive here, but there is a vibrant wine culture.
According to Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) legend, Marlborough has provided safe harbor for sailors for centuries. This region is home to deep bays and beautiful beaches fringed by “bush.” Sea life thrives here; often you’ll see pods of dolphins and seals frolicking in the inlets and coves. Much like Nelson, the area’s fertile soil and temperate climate offer the perfect conditions for growing grapes. Marlborough is internationally renowned as the best region for sauvignon blanc. Oenophiles visiting Marlborough may never want to leave.
Southland may be New Zealand’s most majestic region with its diverse geography of lush rainforest, green farmlands and sky-high precipices. Fiordand, with its snowy mountains and flowing waterfalls, begs to be discovered. Kayaking, diving and hiking are the perfect means by which to explore the region. Visit Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park, which is home to the Kiwi — New Zealand’s indigenous flightless bird and the namesake of its people. Here the night sky comes alive with the Southern Cross and Milky Way.
While visitors often go to New Zealand for the scenery, they often leave talking more about the people; New Zealand also has been dubbed “the country of open hearts.” If you make the journey, take time to get to know the people. New Zealanders are open and friendly with a reputation for honesty, trustworthiness and warmth. You’ll arrive in New Zealand a visiting adventurer and leave as part of the Kiwi family.