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 Whangarei (prononced, Fong-a-ri, and give the “r” a roll if you can) is a port I have heard about for years. A ‘must stop’ destination for the circumnavigating fleet.

The place had everything going for it except for one thing... but lets begin with the positive. It’s an easy sail into the harbour from points east and the eastern coast is a windward shore with the prevailing SW. As you sail in look to your left for the masts sticking up behind the tanker wharfs. That’s Marsden Cove marina and is your port of entry. The marina is modern and the clearance crew have a beaut of a reputation for being friendly and reasonable. The marina is well situated for entry, local boats that work outside the headlands and boaties that drive up from Auckland which is only a 150 k’s away... but a warning, the Auckland/Whangarei road is mostly perfect and new motorway but some of it is typical Kiwi road, fabulous for a motoring enthusiast but a long slog for someone just trying to get to point “B”. In most parts of New Zealand, 350k’s is a big days drive. In some parts of Queensland you can drive that far to the pub!


 Whangarei Marina in town is home to a fleet of fishing boats and local and international yachts of every description. As the bay concentrates into a creek, the marina is as far up as you can go before the low bridge. The shelter is perfect. As you cruise in from Marsden Cove the view to the west is of low hills with a higher backdrop. To the east is a series of lovely coves and smaller bays lined with small communities and boats at anchor. There is Urqharts Bay right behind the headland, McLeod Bay, and then Parua. BTW, there is a great pub on the water in Parua, try the seafood chowder. The headlands are spectacular. Remenicient of Hawaii. Past Limestone Island and Onerahi, the bay narrows past the ship yards at Port Whangarei and both banks are filled with marine suppliers and services. Everything one would need or even imagine!

Finally, you thread your way into the thick of it and tie up at the jetty in front of the marina office to get organised. Brian(marina mgr.) or Sharron (office mgr.) will likely be attending office. Expect friendly professionalism. Just beyond the car park is downtown Whangarei. Big enough to have it all and small enough not to have the big city problems. Local prices are good, especially diesel. Great restaurants, provisions and internet are all a short walk from your boat. Anything the marina doesn’t specifically provide is at hand in town.



 What a great place to shelter for a cyclone season. It’s easy to see why there are so many different flags flying there but it gets even better. The community understands the cultural and financial benefit of having the fleet there, so you will be made to feel welcome, not just tolerated as long as you bring enough money. Whangarei Marine Promotions will help you locate services, see their website And when you get a little tired of hanging around and all the tasks are done... sail up to Bay of islands for a couple days. Not far!

And do rent a cheap car.. something lightweight with good brakes, put on the driving gloves and go native! So much to see and every scrap is beautiful.

For information from the marina, email the crew at, or check the website,
Phone is 64 9 438 2033 and they monitor ch. 64 VHF.

Oh, that negative issue I mentioned earlier? Well we fixed it. They didn’t used to have The Coastal Passage available but now they do. Please take only one per boat and try to pass them on. Shipping is expensive but the place was so near to perfection, we had to do it.



 That's Sharon, office manager



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