After winning the America's Cup in 1995 and then successfully defending it in 2000, New Zealand has become one of the world's top sailing and cruising destinations. For sailors and cruisers in the South Pacific, the best weather is during the winter months (May to October). However, travelers can escape the cyclone season in the tropics of the South Pacific by venturing further south to New Zealand during the summer months too (November through March).
New Zealand is one of the most beautiful sailing destinations in the world, and it may be one of the safest places to visit, too. There are few flora and fauna species that can harm visitors, and every town and city has safe, reliable healthcare. A U.S. Embassy and Canadian High Commission are found in Wellington, and a U.S. Consulate is in Auckland. The food is local and fresh, and the people are some of the friendliest and most accommodating in the world. However, it is important to keep up with the weather in New Zealand as it can change rapidly.
Nicknamed the "City of Sails," Auckland has more boats per person than anywhere else in the world. Auckland has an ever-growing number of restaurants, bars and cafes, and it is also home to the Maritime Museum, which has a working fleet of four heritage vessels that offer visitors the incredible experience of sailing the Waitemata Harbor. Auckland Harbor opens out into the Hauraki Gulf, a favorite for sailors to explore. Whether by taking one of the local ferries or a vessel of your own, you will find a great number of beautiful islands to explore.
Take a trip to the dormant volcano of Rangitoto Island, and hike to the top to enjoy stunning city views. Another favorite hot spot for boat lovers is Waiheke Island. With any number of marinas to pull into, Waiheke Island (a 40-minute boat ride from Auckland City) offers some of the countries most stunning vineyards and beaches.
Head North to the Bay of Islands, another popular boating destination with over 100 islands to explore and a subtropical climate that makes it a great destination any time of year.
Wellington, New Zealand's charming capital, is another popular destination for sailors and cruisers alike. Nicknamed "the Windy City," Wellington often has favorable winds that you can use to your advantage. Strolling the Wellington Waterfront is the best way to experience the city, with street performances, funky cafes and art lining the piers. It is also home of Te Papa, New Zealand's National Museum, which is an absolute "must do" for visitors to the city.
For those who want to get off the beaten track, try sailing across the Cook Strait and through the gorgeous Marlborough Sounds to the South Island. The Marlborough region is rife with spots to discover, with some of New Zealand's best wine making regions and numerous restaurants featuring the nation's best seafood. There are endless options to explore all the way down the South Island's wild and diverse coasts. One of New Zealand's most incredible places to experience by sea is Abel Tasman National Park. Located in the beautiful Golden Bay region, the park is one of the sunniest places in the country and offers boaters a chance to find their own secluded bay to pull into for the day. Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park, is another incredible place to visit by sea.
With endless bays, coves, capes, harbors, sounds, fjords and straits, New Zealand is the place to go for those seeking an ocean-faring adventure.
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