10 days around New Zealand’s North Island on a luxury yacht

Wonders Of Whangaroa

From exploring the inner volcano on White Island to nibbling on kiwi fruit in the Bay of Plenty, to fishing on Lake Taupo or sampling the wine at Hawkes Bay, a private cruise or a luxury yacht charter charter around New Zealand's North Island can be customised to suit any style or taste.

Delight in the unspoiled scenery while taking in the region’s captivating history and enjoying the local wine and cuisine. It will be a vacation to remember.

Day 1: Wonders Of Whangaroa

Join the yacht in Whangaroa Harbour, just 30 minutes by road from the local airport in Kerikeri. This area with its rugged cliffs and spectacular scenery is a stunning introduction to New Zealand. You might choose to spend a couple of nights, in advance of the charter, in the nearby Kauri Cliffs Luxury Lodge, unwinding in its spa or getting in a few rounds on its golf course.

You have a number of options in Whangaroa – cover some distance on Ninety Mile Beach (which is actually only 55 miles long) or trek into Waipoua Kauri Forest to marvel at the 13 metre girth of Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest), the largest known Kauri Tree in the world, and spectacularly ancient too at an estimated 2,000 years old.

Or you could take to the air in a helicopter and follow the coastline up to Cape Reinga, at the very top of North Island, where the Pacific meets the Tasman at Columbia Bank, and waves can be over 10 metres high.

Back on board, cruise to Pekapeka Bay, where the yacht will anchor overnight.

Picture courtesy of Ian Woolcock/Shutterstock.com

Roberton Island, Bay of Islands via The Cavallis

Head to the Bay of Islands via the protected Cavalli Islands, which are rich with birdlife. Here, too, you can take a dive down to the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace’s flagship, which having been sunk by saboteurs in Auckland Harbour in 1985 was relocated here as refuge for the marine life she was trying to protect.

Then continue on to the Bay of Islands, one of New Zealand’s best maritime parks. Take your pick from the 144 islands in the area, some of which are relatively unexplored, and have cameras at the ready to capture some of the abundant wildlife from blue penguins and gannets to manta rays and killer whales.

For divers there are over 100 dive sites – rated by Jacques Cousteau as some of the best scuba dives in the world – with corals, rocky coastlines and wrecks to explore. For sportfishermen, it doesn’t get much better than this – time to meet your match in waters teeming with marlin, kingfish, snapper and more.

Anchor off the south side of Roberton Island – a simply stunning bay to spend the night with a local dolphin side show if you are lucky.

Picture courtesy of Chameleons Eye/Shutterstock.com

days around New Zealand’s North Island on a luxury yacht

Take some time to enjoy the Bay of Islands, starting with a visit to Russell, the first capital of New Zealand, and in its time a lawless and bawdy whaling port known as the Hellhole of the Pacific. It is a far cry from the quaint, charming town you’ll find today with a relaxed pace and pleasant atmosphere.

Spend some time in the day spa at the luxurious Flagstaff Lodge, housed in one of the town’s historic buildings. Then hop in the tender to explore Waitangi, the site of the signing of the country’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, in 1840.

Alternatively spend the day exploring the area by sea, with a multitude of anchorages to choose from. Head to Cape Brett and back the yacht right up to the Hole in the Rock on the southern side of Piercy Island. This should only be attempted in flat, calm conditions but makes for some great photo opportunities when possible!

Diving at Poor Knights Marine Reserve

A day for divers to discover why Jacques Cousteau declared this one of the 10 best dive sites in the world. Head for the Poor Knights Marine Reserve, 35 miles south east of Cape Brett, which encompasses an ocean of diving compressed into a relatively small area with caves, arches, tunnels and sheer cliffs, sponge gardens and gorgonian fields inhabited by a myriad of fish, shellfish, urchins and anemones, and black coral in deeper waters.

Those who prefer wreck diving should head for two former Navy ships sunk for diving just outside Tutukaka — renowned as one of the best shipwreck dives in the world.

Boats up to 45 metres can navigate within this area and are permitted to anchor; local dive guides can meet you on site. Anchoring overnight here, however, is not recommended due to the lack of shelter. For larger vessels, or for more shelter, head to Whangerei or Tutukaka and use the tender or a local dive firm to go out to the Islands.

For non-divers there are some fantastic walks and bike rides ashore along the Tutukaka coast or you can explore the coastline by kayak. Whale Bay is a stunning overnight anchorage.

PIcture courtesy of Iain Urquhart/Shutterstock.com

Back to basics on Great Barrier Island

Step back in time with a visit to Great Barrier Island. Situated just 90 kilometres north-east of Auckland, it seems worlds away with its untarred roads, lack of banks, no traffic or street lights and just a few shops. Water comes from the sky and power from private generators.

With a permanent population of around 700 this 285 square km island is one of the few untouched and unspoilt places still remaining in the world and its lack of predators has resulted in thriving rare flora and fauna.

The coastline also provides a diversity of habitats for aquatic plants and animals from whales and pelagic fish to manta rays and turtles. Tramp through lush native forests, kayak around the coastline or hire a mountain bike to do some exploration on the designated tracks.

You could also fish (either on board or from the rocks), surf on the beaches, dive the two nearby wrecks, snorkel, swim or horse ride, and there are walking trails for every level of fitness.

Pause for refreshments in one of the island’s cafés or restaurants where you will invariably see art by local artists on display, or visit one of the many galleries or studios that show off the creative side of this artistic community.

Picture courtesy of  Australian Camera/Shutterstock.com

Scallop diving, spear fishing or strolling on the Mercury Islands

Head towards the Coromandel Peninsula, passing by Cuvier Islands on the way. Keen divers might wish to stop here for dive on the wild side – foraging for World War II hardware that was dumped in the area.

Then make for the Mercury Islands just off the coast of Coromandel for some scallop diving or spear fishing for kingfish. Great Mercury Island is privately owned but with its owners’ permission you can go ashore to take some stunning local walks.

PIcture courtesy of Bildagentur Zoonar Gmb H/Shutterstock.com

Forests, rocks and thermal baths on Coromandel Peninsula

Renowned worldwide for its natural beauty with misty rainforests and pristine golden beaches, the Coromandel Peninsula is blessed with hundreds of natural hideaways. Explore the Coromandel Forest Park, take a trip to Cathedral Cove to enjoy the superb weathered rock formations, or simply cruise through the islands.

Hahei, a popular destination which can unfortunately sometimes be a little too crowded, is home to Hot Water Beach. Dig a hole in the sand and relax in the thermal water coming out of the earth (making sure to add some cold seawater first to avoid getting scalded), while enjoying canapés and champagne.

If there is time, wander round Whitianga, Coromandel’s shopping centre with boutiques and quaint cafés, venture into Coromandel town or head to Pauanui for a round of golf.

Picture courtesy of Pichugin Dmitry/Shutterstock.com

Wining and dining on Waiheke Island

A leisurely start will have you anchoring up for brunch on board in Squadron Bay in the Firth of Thames, a favourite area of many superyachts. Then you could head out to Rangipukea Island (at the entrance to Squadron Bay) for an hour or two on the gorgeous beach there, or make the short hike up the hill to take in the fantastic views over Hauraki Gulf.

Up anchor and head to Waiheke Island, the Martha’s Vineyard of New Zealand,  the area is one of the best wine regions to visit by luxury yacht. The area is home to gourmet restaurants and boutique wineries as well as spectacular scenery and many of New Zealand’s most successful artists. Decide on one or two of a multitude of activities, from cycle tours, to relaxing on the white sandy beaches such as Palm Beach, or yet more stunning walks.

Visit one of the island’s vineyards and take your pick from their relaxed cafés or fine dining restaurants with views across the vineyard to the sea beyond. Anchor overnight in Putiki Bay.

PIcture courtesy of  Naska Raspopina/Shutterstock.com

Explore Auckland

Make an early start to explore more of the Hauraki Gulf with its many protected islands which are renowned for their spectacular wildlife and trekking. Take the track to the summit of Rangitoto, an 800-year-old volcanic island, or anchor off Motutapu.

Make a note to spend a few days post cruise at Hurakia Lodge on Rakino Island, an exclusive private use villa accessible only by helicopter or boat with spectacular sea views, pool and spa, personal chef and attentive host.

Then cruise to Kawua Island, anchor in the pleasant Mansion House Bay and take the tender ashore to see the resident peacocks.

Later that day head to Auckland, a vibrant, multi-cultural city inhabited by nearly a third of New Zealand’s population. Berth right in the city, either in Viaduct Harbour or the new Silo Park Marina with three 90 metre berths and one 60 metre berth.

The next morning enjoy your last breakfast on board before disembarking for the flight home, or moving ashore to explore the city more thoroughly

Picture courtesy of Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock.com

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