The Millennium Cup: 5 days sailing in the Bay of Islands



In the lead up to the NZ Millennium Cup (30 January - 2 February, 2019), New Zealand captain Blair MacLeod of Yachting Developments' 33.8 metre sloop Silvertip_, available for charter with Ocean Independenc_e, shares secret cruising gems in the Bay of Islands.

With bows pointed south, crew from all over the world will descend upon the azure waters of the Bay of Islands for the South Pacific’s premier superyacht regatta, the NZ Millennium Cup 2019. Ready to enjoy the relaxed Kiwi hospitality and spectacular racing the event is renowned for, we look at how you could extend your stay in this stunning location.  From secluded anchorages and emerald coves to the sunken frigate Canterbury teeming with exotic marine wildlife, the Bay of Islands has it all.

Day 1: Russell

Upon arrival in Russell by helicopter, enjoy a leisurely lunch at the historic Duke of Marlborough pub; known locally for “refreshing rascals and reprobates since 1827” and as the venue for the NZ Millennium Cup’s opening evening’s cocktail drinks.

Anchor overnight in Russell.

Picture courtesy of / Oliver Foerstner


Roberton Island

A short half an hour sail away and the stunning Roberton Island looms. A beautifully sheltered anchorage, Roberton Island boasts two tidal lagoons with an underwater trail perfect for snorkeling just a stone’s throw away from the sea.

Easy access to shore and the silkiest of white-sand make this one of the best picnic spots and ideal for a beach barbecue.

A short half hour walk from the beach is rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the Bay from a jutting lookout nestled atop the island.

Wind down sampling critically acclaimed wines from local vineyard, Omata Estate, to the sound of birdsong from the many native birds that inhabit the island. Nature-lovers will be enthralled by the diverse range of fauna that comes out as the sun goes down – head ashore with the crew for an opportunity to see the island come alive at night.

The island is a top pick amongst captains and can only be accessed by boat, helicopter or skilled kayaker leaving it completely unspoiled.

Picture courtesy of / ChameleonsEye



Just 20 minutes away, Urupukapuka offers shallow and sheltered waters in all weather. Take a paddle through Okahu Passage while the crew catch fresh scallops for lunch in the aptly named Paradise Bay.

Dangle a line over the transom to keep the kids happy hunting baitfish before a short ten-minute sail to plentiful recreational fishing grounds protected from commercial fishing.


Oke Bay

No Bay of Islands cruise is complete without a day-sail to the Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett; a superb spearfishing spot thriving with game species, buzzing with seabirds and marine life.

Close by on the Brett Peninsula, Deep Water Cove conceals the sunken frigate, Canterbury.

Anchor two nautical miles away in picturesque Oke Bay for the night.


Waiti Bay

Awake and paddle board the deserted coastline.

A short 15 nautical mile sail past craggily majestic Nine Pin Rock, famed for framing many a hairpin turn by competitors in the NZ Millennium Cup, leaves guests to alight on Waiti Bay, in the Cavalli Islands.

Dive the Rainbow Warrior wreck or take in a game of golf at the stunning Kauri Cliffs golf course. Take a drive up to the famous Manganui Fish and Chip Shop or take a helicopter ride from there to the Northland sand dunes for a quad bike tour of Ninety Mile Beach.

“The coastlines of Whangaruru, just South of the Bay of Islands, and Whangaroa, to the North of the Bay of Islands, epitomise the beauty of New Zealand,” adds Paige Cook of Yachting Developments. “They offer further opportunities for extended cruising in the region”.