Day 1. Opua to Russell, 3 miles
After receiving your briefing at our charter base on Opua Wharf, and perhaps getting a
few last minute provisions at the local store, cast off and head down channel towards the
historic township of Russell (photo 1). Set sail if you really want to!
Anchor in the excellent holding ground of Matawhi Bay. Go ashore in the evening for a
drink at the quaint Russell Boating Club and, leaving your dinghy on the pontoon dock,
take a 5 minute stroll into Russell to eat at one of the number of fine restaurants in the
Day 2. Russell to Army Bay (35°13.2’S, 174°11.7’E), via Roberton Island (35°14.2’S,
174° 10.2’E). 7 miles.
After washing the Matawhi Bay mud from the anchor, set sail and round Tapeka point
where Roberton Island will be visible to you. Twin Lagoons Bay (photo 2) is one of the
most popular anchorages in the Bay, with good reason. A lovely beach, lagoons for
snorkelling in and an easy 10 minute walk to the islands high point gives you a
panoramic view over the Bay.
From Roberton Island it is an easy 40 minute sail to Moturua Island and the locally
named Army Bay (it’s called Waiwhapuku on the chart but almost no one knows it as
this). This bay with its sandy beach and overhanging trees was the site of a military camp
during WW II and the “pillbox” on the headland overlooking the bay gives a splendid
view of the anchorage. Not a hardship posting (photo 3).
There is a well marked track around the island which takes about 2½ hrs for the circuit.
Day 3. Army Bay to Whangaroa (35°00’S, 173°46’E). 38 miles.
Catch the 09:30 forecast to check the weather and head out across the Bay, rounding
Ninepin Rock and on up the coast to the Cavalli Islands. Wai-iti Bay (photo 4) on
Motukawanui Island makes a pleasant lunch time stop.
The narrow approaches to Whangaroa Harbour are not obvious until quite close and
winds are fluky in the entrance, so this is a good time to start the motor and drop sails.
Day 4. Exploring Whangaroa.
Whangaroa Harbour has numerous secure anchorages. A favourite is Rere Bay and the
nearby Lane Cove. The land surrounding Lane Cove is a park, and a walking track begins
from the west side of the cove and offers a pleasant walk along a nearby stream. Those
who want more strenuous exercise can make the 45 minute scramble to the top of the
‘Dukes Nose’ (photo 5) which offers impressive views over the harbour. At high water take
the dinghy and explore the creek around the western point of the cove.
The village of Whangaroa (photo 6) is at the southern end of the harbour and while
exposed to SW winds, has excellent holding. There is a marina with visitors’ berths
available. Ashore is a small shop, a public bar and the game fishing club which welcomes
visitors for meals and drinks.
Day 5. Whangaroa to Marsden Cross (35°10.4’S, 174°05.7’E). 37 miles.
Retrace your route of Day 3 back to the Bay of Islands and anchor at the uninhabited bay
of Rangihoua. Oihi, at the northern end of the bay (locally known as Marsden Cross) was
the site of the first Anglican Mission in New Zealand. The cross ashore commemorates
the first Christian service on the shores of New Zealand (photo 7).
Day 6. Marsden Cross to Paradise Bay (35°13.2’S, 174°13.6’E). 7 miles.
After yesterday’s sailing treat yourself to a day ashore with a fine sandy beach and a
whole island to explore (photo 8). Make the crossing to Paradise Bay on Urupukapuka
Island where lunch time is a good time to ‘discover’ the café at nearby Otehei Bay.
Days 7 and 8. Exploring the Bay of Islands.
Catch your breath for a couple of days before making the coastal passage south and really
get to know the Bay of Islands. It doesn’t get better than this!
Head to Waitangi for a round of golf, take in the café scene of Russell, explore the Te
Puna inlet or laze on the white beaches of Waewaetoria.
Suggested night anchorages are Te Hue Bay, Pipi Bay (Awaawaroa) on Moturua, or Oke
Bay (photo 9) at the bottom of the Cape Brett peninsula.
Day 9. Bay of Islands to Whangamumu (35°15'S, 174°18’E). 12 miles.
Head out across the Bay toward Cape Brett. ‘The Hole in the Rock’, an icon of the Bay of
Islands is in Piercy Island, just off Cape Brett. The hole runs NW-SE and can’t be seen
until outside of the Bay’. The area abounds with sea and bird life. Expect to see dolphins.
Whangamumu Harbour (photo 10) is uninhabited and the only sign of human habitation are
the remains of the whaling station that closed in the 1930’s.
Day 10. Whangamumu to Tutukaka (35°37’S, 174°33’E). 39 miles.
Heading south toward Tutukaka, take a detour out to the Poor Knights Islands. The
islands are steep to with no anchorages and landing is prohibited, but the area is a marinepark and has prolific wildlife. The islands have a number of impressive natural archways,
blow holes and sea cave big enough to take large launches (but not yachts!). The Poor
Knights are famed for diving and, with one person staying on board to man the controls it
is possible to snorkel directly from the boat (photo 11).
Another 12 miles takes you to Tutukaka Harbour (photo 12) with a marina and pleasant
The alternative direct route south from Whangamumu hugs the coast and is 9 miles
shorter. The beautiful Mimiwhangata peninsula (photo 13) offers a pleasant lunchtime stop
and the chance to have a run ashore.
Day 11. Tutukaka to Great Barrier Island. 50 miles.
Head out bright and early for the longest sail of the voyage. The passage out to Great
Barrier is over open water all the way and the weather forecast must be taken into
consideration before attempting the crossing.
Simpson Rock (5 metres high) lies just north of the direct course to Port Fitzroy and
makes a good waypoint on your route.
Port Fitzroy (36°10’S, 175°20’E) (photo 14) offers a number of protected anchorages.
Day 12. Great Barrier Island.
After a day of sailing; a day ashore. Take the forest walk from Kaiarara Bay to the kauri
dams, where those with more stamina can continue to the top of Mount Hobson
(626m/2050ft). Take a dip in one of the clear streams or experience the ‘do it yourself’
bath at Smokehouse Bay.
For those who feel the need to cover some ground can make the passage south to
Whangaparapara (10 miles) or Tryphena (15 miles), viewing the gannet colony on
Mahuki Island on the way. Bowling Alley Bay (photo 15), 6 miles south of Port Fitzroy,
makes a pleasant lunch time stop.
Day 13 Great Barrier to Kawau Island. 30 miles.
The passage back to the mainland is another open water sail, passing south of the
inhospitable Little Barrier Island.
Mansion House Bay (36°25.5’S, 174°49’E) (photo 16) on Kawau Island is a picturesque
anchorage. The house giving the bay its name was the weekend getaway of an early
colonial governor but is now a public park. Visitors who see kangaroos ashore can be
forgiven for thinking that they have sailed too far and ended up in Australia. The island is
the only place in New Zealand where these animals (which are actually wallabies) can be
seen in the wild.
Day 14 Kawau to Motuihe (36°49’S, 174°57’E). 25 miles.
Sail south through Whangaparoa Passage to the main islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Stop
off at Matiatia Bay to visit Waiheke Island’s art galleries and vineyards.
Anchor on either the north or south side of Motuihe (photo 17), dependant on the wind. The
island is now a park, but still trades on its history of being a prison during World War I, from which the entire contingent of prisoners made a daring escape using the
commanding officers launch. These days the only prisoners are those day trippers who
miss the last ferry back to Auckland.
Day 15. Motuihe to Auckland. 10 miles.
Head up the Waitemata Harbour to Westhaven Marina for your noon drop off.