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Marlbrough Sounds to BOI advice

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Hi all, its been a while since I have been active on here but planning a trip at Christmas time from Havelock (Marlbrough) to Bay of Islands. Looking at dropping the dock lines about 20th Dec and heading around the top of the North Island before turning SW to BOI via Whangaroa Harbour and Cavalli Islands. Just looking for any advice for that time of the year, prevailing wind directions? anywhere to shelter enroute if the weather kicks up rough.

The boat is 44ft solid bluewater cruiser, have been through plenty of bad weather including 2x crossings of Cook in 50+kn with 6+ meter seas.




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First of all, my advice does NOT come from experience, so take advice from anyone with experience first.

From Havelock, straight up the West coast is a good course, but you have New Plymouth as the only easy place to go to if you really have to. That time of the year tends to see the Norwest Gales. If you don't mind that, then lack of wind should not be a problem to push you up there. But it may not always be comfortable. Further North, you have the entrance to the Manakau and entrance to Kaipra, but both are Bars not to be taken lightly.

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Ignore the Manukau & Kaipara bar crossings unless for a critical emergency. Even then they would be a last resort in my book.

The chances of getting good conditions for a bar crossing, especially if you're running for cover are very low.

Those 2 bars alone have over 400 wrecks on them, feeling lucky?

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My thoughts would be, if you are in a hurry go the West Coast and leave on a good weather window and just keep going until you get around north cape then stop wherever you like, great fish and chips at Mangonui.


If you have plenty of time, go the East Coast, look for a good weather window and make straight to Napier from there on you have a lot more options to do shortish stints to Gisbourne then maybe Hicks bay or Waihou Bay for a rest depending on the Weather, after that you have a huge range of options, you can Make for Tauranga, Mayor Island maybe Whangamata, The Mercs or the Barrier depending on the wind direction. Boat Harbour is a fantastic Place to stop if you end up near Tirua and it is Blowing from a westerly-ish direction, as are the many bays around the top of the coromandel. Avoid heading into the Hauraki Gulf if it's a south westerly instead head around the back of barrier some great stops there or if you don't mind rolling around a bit make for Fitzroy where you can easily spend a week exploring. Visit the Mokes if you have time beautiful place in an isolated sort of way. The Hauraki Gulf is a great cruising ground but can be very busy at that time of year, we usually head for a stop at Kawau if it's an easy sail before heading further north. The Hen and Chicks can be a good lunch spot or overnight if it is settled. Whangarei is worth a visit if you have time really cool riding the hide tide right into the town basin and spending a night or two, then you have Tutakaka the Poor nights, Whangamumu, Whangaruru before get to the Bay of Islands which is an amazing place but can be very busy in the summer months, the crowds can be escaped by heading over to the Kerikeri side of the Bay.

There is heaps more that I've missed but needless to say you will have an awesome time.

Be sure to buy the RAYC's blue book before you go.



Damn you've got me planning my summer holidays now.

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Yep, the only place to go is New Plymouth. In a big NW it can be closed. The harbor is rolly in NW conditions, and the facilities for yachts are less than good. Your trip is likely to have the wind FWD of the beam the whole way. And potentially strong winds.

Personally, going North from Cook Strait, I prefer to go up the East Coast. More places to stop, and more interesting.


I'd come back south (are you coming back??) down the W Coast....


Good luck!

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Thanks for the advice. In answer to the last question, yes I am coming back to Marlborough so will do the west coast on way home. I might make provision to take the east coast route up north unless we are going to get a good weather window that will allow a West Coast trip.

I have done the east coast before from AKL to Wellington so not bothered to much about seeing it again and it adds another 170nm which sucks.

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Not much to see if you don't stop! Stopping is harder on the West Coast...

By the way, I make it 535 NM Picton to Opua via West Coast, and 650NM Opua to Picton via East Coast.

The West Coast is certainly more open, with fewer usable harbors, and generally more exposed to the Weather. However the S Wairarapa Cost and East Cape are places to treat with caution (So's Cook Strait, but that should be OK as you can leave with a good forecast...

Best of luck with your trip, have a great time!

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I have done both coasts - the west twice and my preference is the west although last time we had a dream run up the east coast. I think it is the Wairarapa reputation that concerns me most.

Having said that either way is ok and totally dependant on the weather at the time. New Plymouth is ok except in fresh northerlies. The small sheltered area is full of moorings and we anchored among them. if I went back there I would just pick up a mooring as there appear to be quite a few empty ones. I think the Harbour Board wont allocate them because of liability issues.

Manukau would also be ok in up to prob a 1.5 to 2m swell as long as you check the notices to mariners for the leads and talk to the signalman.

Similarly Kaipara is ok with a bit of local knowledge and a 1.5 to 2m swell. Where these harbours are useful is when you have only say a 2 day good weather window as the west coast trip is about 3 days. Eastern end of Spirits bay tucked in by the little island is also ok in light sw and I understand Ahipara is ok in lighter sw.




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