The Millennium Cup 2021: A sailing guide to the Bay of Islands

From March 28-31, the azure waters of the Bay of Islands will become the racing grounds for the 2021 Millennium Cup superyacht regatta. But the superyacht sailing competition is certainly not the only reason to visit this breathtakingly beautiful region of New Zealand. For owners and charter guests stopping by to watch or take part in the Millennium Cup, we've put together the perfect travel itinerary for extending your trip around New Zealand's North Island.


Russell is home to the Millennium Cup organisers, the Russell Boating Club, and is the perfect place to drop anchor and begin your adventures in the Bay of Islands. Enjoy a leisurely lunch of freshly-caught seafood at the historic Duke of Marlborough pub; Overlooking the scenic Kororareka Bay, the restored tavern has been serving drinks since 1827.

The hotel and its restaurant also function as the regatta's off-water headquarters and will be welcoming spectators and participants at the venue for the Millennium Cup’s drinks party.

Image courtesy of Duke of Marlborough Hotel.

Roberton Island

A short half hour sail away from Russell, 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 30-minute 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

Urupukapuka Island

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 kids happy hunting baitfish before a short ten-minute sail to plentiful recreational fishing grounds protected from commercial fishing.

Image courtesy of

Hole in the Rock

No Bay of Islands cruise is complete without a day-sail to Piercy Island's 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 wreck of sunken frigate Canterbury.

Anchor two nautical miles away is the picturesque Oke Bay which offers the perfect spot to drop anchor for the night.

Image courtesy of

Waiti Bay

A short 15 nautical mile sail past craggily majestic Nine Pin Rock, famed for framing many a hairpin turn by competitors in the New Zealand 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 and offer further opportunities for extended cruising in the region.

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