North Island New Zealand Circumnaviation

North Island New Zealand Circumnavigation

86 days, 31 stops and just under 1580 NM is what it took for the Dazzler crew for the completion of our North Island New Zealand circumnavigation. Of course we could have done it in a lot less time with fewer stops but why would we want to do that? There are so many astonishingly beautiful places to see and so many brilliant, kind and welcoming people to meet and enjoy so we just took our time.

Here’s list of the stops made along the way along with a quick bit of information as to why we stopped there. If you want to know more about each location please click on the photo for each one which will take you to the article we wrote regarding it.

If you ever do get the opportunity to explore New Zealand via the water we want to tell you one thing….Do NOT pass up Marlborough Sounds! So many will tell you that the Bay of Islands is the best spot here but we feel differently. Both places have a lot to offer but for us the remoteness and more laid back feeling of Marlborough Sounds definitely sets it far ahead of the often overcrowded Bay of Islands.

Whatever you do, take your time, get to know the locals and don’t forget your camera!


Jilly & Dan

Bay Of Islands Region

Paradise bay offers excellent protection from the north, south and east. It’s a beautiful little bay but be prepared to be overrun with boats on the weekend. We were the only boat there on a Friday afternoon and by Saturday morning there than 30 boats in the anchorage. There’s some hiking here but we left before we had a chance to explore as it was a bit to crowded for our taste.

We loved this little gem located just around the corner from Russell. For the most part we had it all to ourselves and loved every second. It’s not the most well protected anchorage but it does offer protection from the south. And, if you want to hike there is some hiking here. We only stayed one night so we chose to just enjoy the anchorage from Dazzler.

Russell is a charming little town and it’s quite a bit less chaotic than Opua even though it’s just a short, forty minutes away. There are some nice restaurants, fairly good provisioning and even a couple of great museums. We stopped here a couple of times on this trip.

Ahhh…now this is what we love….a beautiful bay without all the chaos. We were here during the off season so we can’t tell you what it’s like at other times but for us it was quiet, peaceful and we were the only ones in this bay. And, it has great protection from the north.

We absolutely loved this very large bay that’s just west of Marsden Cross. We had great fishing here, went on a couple of dinghy rides to explore the area and saw some incredible sunsets. And, the bay is large enough for quite a few boats without having to be on top of each other.

There are a couple of ways to access the town of Kerikeri. One is to anchor in Kerikeri Inlet then take a dinghy ride 2.5 NM up the Waipekakoura River where you can dock near the Mission House. From there it’s about a 15 minute walk into town. Or, you can do as we did and stay at the Kerikeri Cruising Club and get a rental car to get around. Be prepared though. Getting to the rental car office is a pretty pricey cab ride. But, provisioning in Kerikeri is excellent!

This amazing anchorage offers one of the best hikes in the Bay of Islands and it’s a very significant historical site which is that it’s the Birthplace of New Zealand. The hike that leads to the top of the cliffs offers views that are second to none and we found great fishing here too. As for swimming….well, if you love swimming with the sharks then have at it. For us, seeing sharks following our boat into the anchorage was enough to keep us out of the water.

There’s not much here but it does offer some great protection from all directions. We used this bay strictly for protection from a coming storm. It wasn’t even very scenic but it served it’s purposed.

This nice little bay had a long beach that would be great for a nice walk. We never left the boat here but certainly enjoyed the views.

Marlborough Sounds Region

Nelson & Pelorus Sound Region

This could quite possibly be our favorite city in New Zealand. Established in 1841 it is the second oldest, settled city in all of New Zealand. It has a quaint, European village feel, the marina was well protected and the people are truly spectacular. We loved Nelson so much didn’t want to leave!

This anchorage is literally in the middle of nowhere but we loved that! It is very well protected from all sides and offered some terrific views. We used it for a roadstead but could easily have enjoyed a few days of peace in the remote location had we not been on our way to meet our friends.

We’re sure if we were actually at the world’s end but it certainly felt remote enough to be it. This place had amazing hiking and fabulous views of the nearby mountains. It’s remote with no internet so if you come here plan to enjoy the views and Mother Nature.

This little bay was a perfect place to spend a night and raft up with our friends on SV SuAn. They have two Mana Club moorings here but not much else. If you’re looking for a beautiful spot to spend a night or two on the hook this is definitely a great one. It is protected from the north only though so keep that in mind.

With excellent protection from all sides this great, but shallow bay, has so much to offer. There are fabulous hiking trails and gorgeous views….Just look at that sunset! There’s also a kid’s camp on the southern shore. We had so much fun watching the kids play in the water. It made for great entertainment but if you don’t want to have jet skis zooming by you may want to stay on the north side of the bay.

How could we not love Havelock? It’s where we got engaged! But, it’s also an adorable little town where you can get some of the best green lipped mussels in the world. Maybe that’s because they are the green lipped mussel capital of the world. Just be sure to come in at high tide and don’t stay to the starboard side of the channel on the way in no mater what the sign says! That’s how we ended up running aground for the first time ever.

Our friends on SV SuAn met some Kiwis before we caught up with them and were told this is a “must do” bay. We spent an afternoon here and did some wonderful exploring on land. There was lots more to explore but the weather was going to be favorable to make the jump over to Queen Charlotte Sound the following day and we wanted to get closer to Cook Strait to be ready early the next morning. If we get back here we will definitely spend more time exploring this delightful bay.

Camp Bay is located right near the entrance to Pelorus Sound on the north side of the Waitata Reach channel. We used it as a staging area for our jump across Cook Strait to Queen Charlotte Sound. Sorry we can’t tell you much more than that about the area.

Queen Charlotte Sound Region

Our first trip to Picton was via car in 2019. Ironically we got off the ferry and saw nothing. We thought it was just a ferry stop with nothing in the way of a real city. Boy were we wrong. If we’d only gone a few blocks in we’d have found a charming waterfront city with warm and welcoming people, great restaurants and a nice marina. We stayed here twice while on this trip and loved every second.

A short distance from Picton lies a tranquil piece of nirvana known as Fence Bay. We spent a couple of nights here and loved it. The moorings are private moorings but we were able to find space to anchor two boats. There are a couple of other bays right here as well so if this one is full you can go to Mistletoe Bay or Waterfall Bay. There’s a lot of fantastic hiking here as well.

We never left the boat here due to weather but there are some hiking trails and it was a great place to hook up to a Mana Cruising Club mooring and wait out the weather.

We stopped here for just one night because we were hoping to have dinner at the resort. Turns out we needed to make reservations in advance. We did enjoy some appetizers and drinks at the waterfront cafe. The moorings were free as well. It was a nice place to spend the afternoon and evening.

Because we were there in Autumn we experienced more than a few rainy days. One of those was when we were in Double Bay so again, we didn’t leave the boat but there is a beach and picnic area here. There are also a couple of Mana Club moorings.

Our only regret about stopping here is that we didn’t stay longer. This place was truly special with great cabins, a fabulous lodge/restaurant and awesome hiking trails. They even offer free showers and towels to hikers and yachties. The food was excellent, service top of the line and the moorings were free. We just can’t say enough about this great place.

It’s highly unlikely you’d stop here for more than an overnight stop but if you’re coming into or leaving Marlborough Sound through the Tory Channel then this is a great spot. It’s a good all weather anchorage that is protected from the ferry wash and, if you’re so inclined, there is even some hiking here.

East Coast Of North Island (North to South)

Roughly 57 NM from Cape Reinga this anchorage offers a great stopping opportunity on the way north. That is, of course, unless you have weather and swell coming in from the east. For us, it turned out to be a fabulous stop where we even got a chance to watch a Wednesday night beer can race right by Dazzler.

Tutukaka is a quaint little town just a few hours sail north of Whangarei Heads. Most cruisers use it as a roadstead on their way up or down the coast. It does have some nice hiking, good restaurants and some cute shops too.

The world’s windiest city, Wellington is full of tasty restaurants, educational museums and spectacular scenery. Of course you need to be prepared to cough up a little cash if you want to stay at the marina in town but we felt it was worth it to have everything we wanted or needed on our doorstep.

Known as the “First City Of The Sun” this might be the friendliest city we’ve visited in all of New Zealand. From the generosity and kindness of the Port Captain and Marina Manager to the wonderful people we met on the dock, in restaurants and on the streets we found this darling place to be one of the most welcoming in all of New Zealand.

This is a truly marvelous bay with some stunning views. It’s large and offers great protection from west. Just don’t misjudge it because if the weather comes from any other direction you’ll be in for the ride of your life!

Urquharts is a place we’ve visited many times. Sitting at the mouth of the Hatea River it’s a great spot to hang out for a few days and hike or to stage yourself for moving up and down the coast. We truly love this anchorage and its beautiful views across the waterway to the Marsden Point Oil Refinery…New Zealand’s only refinery.