Sailing in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Sailing in the Bay of Islands
Sailing in the Bay of Islands
Aboard The Phantom
Aboard The Phantom

The Bay of Islands is in the far north part of the North Island of New Zealand.  The area is sub tropical and is very laid back in attitude.  There are 144 islands, some being very small and others a little larger.  This is a great spot to sail because there are so many places you can stop, have lunch, swim a little and relax.  The weather was great when I was there – not too hot and certainly not cold.  The biggest town in the area is Kerikeri, followed by Pahia which is where I stayed.  You can catch a ferry across to Russell which has a wild history as a 19th century whaling port. Also in the area is Waitangi where you can visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It is New Zealand’s most important historic site where in 1840 New Zealand’s founding document was signed: the Treaty of Waitangi.  There are so many activities you can do in the Bay of Islands area such as swimming, sea kayaking, whale spotting, shopping and sailing.

Yachts in the Bay of Islands
Yachts in the Bay of Islands

I paid for a commercial trip on a boat since I didn’t have any contacts in that part of the world but didn’t check it out too much beforehand.  I thought I was going to be spending a couple of hours on a yacht sailing out, around and back again to Russell.  It turned out to be my favourite day in New Zealand.  We spent six hours out on the water with a stop at one of the islands for lunch.  There were only two passengers – myself and a young lady from Switzerland.  The owners, Rick and Robin were two very interesting people with colourful backgrounds.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse, Northland, New Zealand
Cape Reinga Lighthouse, Northland, New Zealand

You can do day trips to Cape Reinga, which is the north westernmost tip of the North Island of New Zealand. I found this exhilarating as we drove along the beach (something I had never done before). There is a nifty lighthouse there, Cape Reinga Lighthouse, and you can see where two bodies of water meet – the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.  In Maori mythology this is where the spirits of the dead leap off to the afterlife.

Getting back to the sailing, I would say to definitely wear sunscreen even if the day looks a little overcast.  The reflections off the water usually make sunburn a little worse.  Take a bottle of water too to keep hydrated.  Lunch was supplied and was very nice indeed so you don’t need to worry about that.  The conversation was interesting as we learnt about Rick and Robin’s travels and adventures.  They were a very welcoming and warm couple who were also interested in their passengers.   I absolutely love sailing but even if it was your first time you would it hard to not enjoy yourself.

Rick and Robin, owners of The Phantom
Rick and Robin, owners of The Phantom
At the helm of The Phantom in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand
At the helm of The Phantom in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand