New Zealand’s Best Boating Hot Spots


Boating in New Zealand

As a picturesque island nation, New Zealand has an abundance of boating options to choose from. There are vast stretches of coastline just waiting to be explored. Countless bays, coves, capes, harbours, sounds, fjords, and straits offer endless opportunities for discovery. When you factor in the various freshwater options available, it’s no surprise that the Kiwi lifestyle is closely associated with the enjoyment of water-related activities.

These locations highlight the variety of boating experiences available in New Zealand, ranging from serene lakes and majestic fiords to lively coastal waters. Each destination offers a distinctive and unforgettable adventure for those passionate about boating.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing day out on the water for fishing, or simply chilling in the sun, you are sure to find the perfect boating spot all over the country.

North Island

Bay of Islands, Northland

This nautical haven is renowned for its tranquil, mild waters and secluded coves, offering breathtaking scenery, captivating history, and exceptional fishing opportunities. It stands as a premier boating destination, adorned with numerous islands (a staggering 144, to be precise) surrounded by an abundance of prime snorkelling, diving, and fishing locations.

Prepare to share in the marvel, as pods of dolphins may gracefully join your boating escapades. The diverse marine ecosystem also attracts orcas and whales. Exploring the underwater realm for scallops and crayfish is a rewarding pursuit, complemented by world-class fishing in these waters.

Hauraki Gulf, Auckland

Residing in New Zealand’s most populous city provides easy access to a stunning harbour. The Hauraki Gulf, situated right at Auckland’s doorstep, encompasses over 50 islands featuring serene sandy beaches, rugged landscapes, dedicated wildlife conservation areas, and 500 sheltered anchorages around the islands.

For those inclined to explore beyond the inner harbour, Waiheke Island stands out as a popular and easily reachable destination. It captivates many with its vineyards, art galleries, cosy cafes, chic boutiques, laid-back atmosphere, and numerous anchorages to choose from.

Consider embarking on a boating adventure to Kawau Island or Great Barrier Island, located on the outer fringe of the gulf. Great Barrier Island, renowned for its diving and fishing opportunities, diverse birdlife, scenic bushwalks, and pristine beaches, even boasts a rejuvenating hot thermal spring at Kaitoke. Keep a keen eye out for whales, dolphins, and blue penguins during your explorations in the gulf.

The Bay of Plenty

Frequently hailed as the finest in the country, Mt Maunganui and Ōhope beaches hold a strong allure for water enthusiasts. The radiant Bay of Plenty, blessed with sunshine, features welcoming harbours for shelter, sandy beaches, and excellent fishing opportunities.

For those eager to explore, Tūhua/Mayor Island and Mōtītī Island near Tauranga are inviting destinations. Further down the coast lies the pest-free sanctuary of Moutohorā/Whale Island near Ōhope.

The Coromandel

Boating in the Coromandel offers an enchanting experience with its stunning coastal landscapes, pristine waters, and numerous hidden gems. The Coromandel is renowned for its excellent fishing. Whether you’re into deep-sea fishing or prefer casting your line near the coast, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a variety of fish.

Mercury Bay, located on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula, is a popular boating destination. The town of Whitianga serves as a gateway to the bay, providing boat ramps and marina facilities.

Cathedral Cove, only accessible by boat, is a must-visit spot known for its iconic arched rock formations. The crystal-clear waters and picturesque surroundings make it ideal for snorkelling and swimming.

Coromandel Town is an historic town of Coromandel which offers a charming stopover for boaters. Explore the local shops, cafes, and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.

Whangapoua Harbour is a sheltered harbour providing a tranquil setting for boating. It’s a great spot for anchoring and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

Te Kouma Harbour, located on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula, offers scenic beauty and a peaceful atmosphere for boaters. Explore the various coves and inlets in the area. The harbour also provides opportunities to catch various fish species. Common catches include snapper, kingfish, kahawai, trevally, and various other reef and coastal species. Explore different areas within Te Kouma Harbour for diverse fishing experiences. Look for channels, drop-offs, and underwater structures where fish tend to congregate.

South Island

The Marlborough Sounds

The possibilities for boating are endless in this picturesque region at the northeastern tip of the South Island. With over 1500 kilometres of coastline, it is renowned for providing some of the finest sailing experiences in the country. Departing from the main harbors of Picton, Havelock, and Waikawa opens up a world of exploration. Cruising through the stunning Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, and Pelorus Sounds offers a feast for the eyes. It’s not uncommon to encounter bottlenose and Hector’s dolphins, king shags, blue penguins, and fur seals, adding an extra layer of enchantment to your journey.

The Tasman Region

Just beyond Marlborough lies the breathtaking Nelson-Tasman region, showcasing its golden beaches, pristine waters, and diverse wildlife, including fur seals, dolphins, whales, herons, and penguins. The renowned Abel Tasman National Park is hailed as one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary coastal destinations. Situated in one of the sunniest regions in the country, it provides boaters the opportunity to discover their own secluded bay for a day of tranquility. Torrent Bay stands out as a premier boat anchorage in this coastal paradise.

For a unique underwater experience, consider exploring the Tonga Island Marine Reserve, an adjacent protected area next to Abel Tasman National Park. The reserve boasts spectacular snorkelling opportunities, with attractive pink algae covering the rocks and creating a rich feeding ground for a variety of fish species.


From meandering braided rivers to vast ocean expanses and serene lakes, the Canterbury region boasts a diverse range of boating destinations.

For a captivating experience, locals recommend a visit to Akaroa Peninsula, where you can encounter wildlife, marvel at vibrant blue waters, gaze upon towering coastal cliffs, and delve into a history lesson that includes the fascinating story of French settlers. Alternatively, if your boat is equipped for fishing and you seek a triumphant tale, the Rakaia River awaits. Widely acclaimed as the best fly-fishing spot in the country, it promises a rewarding fishing experience.

Fishing in Kaikoura is a captivating experience, offering anglers the opportunity to explore diverse marine environments and reel in a variety of sought-after species. Kaikoura is renowned for deep-sea fishing, providing access to rich waters populated with species such as blue cod, groper, tarakihi, crayfish and sea perch. Charter boats are available for those looking to venture further offshore. Kaikoura is also famous for its marine wildlife. While fishing, you may have the chance to spot dolphins, seals, and even whales, adding an extra layer of excitement to your adventure.

Kaikoura is also world-famous for it’s water activities to see amazing wildlife up close. A boat tour in Kaikoura is an experience not to be missed.


Think of Fiordland, and the word “majestic” immediately springs to mind. This enchanting region, showcasing the breathtaking fiords along the West Coast of the South Island, promises an unparalleled sailing adventure. Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound stand out as extraordinary destinations to explore and savor from the deck of a boat.

The distinctive landscapes of Fiordland consistently draw sailors and divers year after year, lured by the allure of inky blue waters, towering waterfalls, ancient rainforests, and an underwater realm of wonders.

Within Fiordland’s embrace, discover sheltered coves, concealed waterfalls, playful dolphins, sunbathing seals, and occasionally, the majestic presence of a passing whale – each element adding to the overall sense of wonder.