Cruising the Bay of Islands - Our Picks of the Top Spots for 2024

8 July 2024 | 36 Degrees News

Miss being out on the water? Here are a few of our favourite anchorages in the Bay of Islands this summer season.

The Bay of Islands on the east cost of Northland, is a myriad of small and large islands and beaches. It boasts some of the most beautiful place for cruising in NZ- and might be the closest thing to the tropics at the moment!

With 144 different islands to see, it can be difficult to know where to go. That’s why we’ve gathered a bit of info on the top spots to anchor, see the native wildlife, walk and explore.

First up, Urapukapuka island. With a multitude of popular bays to overnight in on the southeastern side, this is a great place to anchor amongst other cruisers and meet up with your mates. On shore, a well-maintained walking track can be accessed from every beach. The track circumnavigates the island, with loops to nearby destinations. Its well worth even a short walk into the native scrub, as Urapukapuka is pest free, and there have been many native species released there, including Blue Robin, Saddleback and gecko.

Walk or tie your dinghy up to the public doc in Otehei Bay, and lounge in the bean bags at the restaurant & bar for a drink and some crispy calamari. This is an awesome spot for many reasons, however one thing to be aware of when overnighting is the sea- grass bottom in Urapukapuka Bay. Make sure you have a sturdy anchor that will catch well, and give yourself plenty of room just in case of dragging.




Motuarohia Island,
also known as Roberton Island and ‘twin lagoons’ is an awesome anchorage in a northerly breeze. The beautiful white sandy beach is expansive, and the bay has something for everyone to enjoy. At the ‘back’ of the beach, there are two lagoons, protected by the beach on one side and rocks on the other. They are a great swimming spot for the kids and a snorkel trail had been laid down.
This island is also a piece of history, with Maori settlement dating back to prehistoric times. There are many remains from Pa sites and terraces across the island. A walk up the hill will take you to a stunning view of the Bay, and a plaque commemorating this islands interesting history, including a discovery and landing from Captain James Cook.

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Maunganui Bay, commonly known as Deep Water Cove, is one of the most magical spots in the Bay of Islands. Aptly name for its deep anchorage this is a great spot for small and large boats alike.  

It is very sheltered in almost all weather. This bay and the small islands guarding it has been protected since 2010 by a Rahui and is a complete no-take zone. Deep Water Cove is a haven for marine life, and a popular dive spot. In 2007 the HMZS Canterbury Wreck was scuttled in the middle of the cove as a dive wreck. She is now covered in growth and marine life and is a great dive for the advanced & suitably qualified diver. For the beginners and snorkelers the two guarding islands of the cove and even around the small beach are awesome spots and host many different kinds of marine life.

Omakiwi Cove is one of the best anchorages in the Bay in an easterly wind. Its also sheltered in a north and south easterly. This cove promises one of the best nights sleeps in a prevailing wind direction. It has also been known for the odd snapper to be caught off the point. The dog- friendly beach connects to the mainland near Te Rawhiti, making this bay a gentle anchorage that the whole family can enjoy. 

And of course don't forget to swing by Port Opua to fuel up, have a feed and of course say Hi to our friendly 36 team in the Opua office on the wharf. 

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Ready to cruise the bay of islands in your own yacht or launch? Check out our latest listings here.


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