Whangarei - General Info

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Whangarei harbour is about 80nm north of Auckland and a similar distance from the Bay of Islands. The wide range of repair facilities available here makes it a popular port of call.

Cruiser Highlights:

Whangārei has a strong tradition of boat building, with a global reputation for vessel repairs and servicing built on an extensive range of marine businesses in the area.

Three marinas, six haulout yards, accessible shopping, entertainment, medical care, sailmakers, stainless steel experts, mechanics and a friendly and supportive community for cruisers.

Entrance Notes and Cautions:

Marsden Cove Marina at the entrance to Whangarei Harbour is the closest Port of First Arrival and departure for international yachts.  If heading to Whangarei and one of the marinas or haulout facilities there, it is recommended for yachts to motor the final 3NM of the river on a rising tide, favouring the outside curves of the river.

The channel into Whangarei township and the town basin is marked and dredged to a minimum of one meter below Chart Datum (lowest tide).  The river bottom is soft mud and the tidal range is two – three meters.

If heading for the Town Basin Marina and your vessel is over 6.5m in height, you will need to request that the Te Matau ā Pohe bridge is raised by radio or phone. This is a free service. A pontoon is provided to tie up to in the event you need to wait.

Dredging works have started for the new marina at Okara which is being built in the upper Hatea River, on the seaward/downstream side of the Te Matau ā Pohe bascule bridge.


35°51.78’S, 174°31.35’E (channel entrance).

Last updated:  August 2023

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  1. January 22, 2023 at 11:19 PM
    lyndalim says:

    Reported by Werner Gysi – November 2022

    Princess Del Mar arrived at the Bay of Island Marina in Opua Nov1/2022. Done so 8 years before when the word biosecurity did not exist. 

    This time I was asked to haul out either in Opua or Marsden Cove Marina and have the hull cleaned. I inquired and found the cost to do so reasonable at $350 for in/out, power wash and one day on hard compared to Opua at $500 plus $25 environmental fee. Marsden Cove Marina would have also been able to accomodate me on Nov 8. already rather Nov. 21. in Opua. Three days later I received an email from Biosecurity that Marsden Cove Marina does not at the time have the licence to do so, so I had to stick around and use the marina in Opua. I did not think that to be very professional but suggest that sailors arriving in NZ and are not sure about their hull cleanliness should skip Opua and sail the extra 50 or so nm to Marsden Cove Marina. If indeed they have to haul out they at least get a better deal. By the way the re-inspection by Biosecurity after power wash was a modest charge of about $50 to receive the necessary paperwork to keep sailing in NZ. 
    I assume that after all Biosecurity noticed that my hull was clean enough. In any case, I was told that the inspector was lenient. 
    To get the latest pricing contact
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

    Werner Gysi
    Princess Del Mar

  2. January 31, 2020 at 8:45 AM
    hbrew says:

    In the list of marinas it seems that Port Whangarei is missing https://portwhangarei.com/

  3. June 24, 2019 at 11:45 AM
    lapecadora says:

    Early 2019 we needed some Service for the FURUNO Installation on our KER 63, which was standing on the hard in Whangarei.

    In order to do things the right way from the beginning, we contacted FURUNO Auckland and Mr.Phil Seyb, in his function as Service Manager of ENL GROUP (ELECTRONIC NAVIGATION LTD) referred us to their local FURUNO Representative in Whangarei, the company Mckay Ltd. –

    End of February 2019 we sent a detailed list of points, explaining exactly what would have to be attended on board and the very same day we received the positive answer from Ben Haselden – Manager Mckay Marine Northland, informing . . . . QUOTE  We can most definitely help you with the below in it’s entirety –

    Soon after my arrival in Whangarei by mid of March, Ben Haselden came on Board to look at all the open works and the same day he confirmed by Mail, that all works shall be attended, using 6 – 8 working hours and that the price were NZD 95,- per hour for their specialized services.

    Happy, having found someone, who is so convinced to do the complete job, we gave green light for Mckay Ltd.

    During their fist visit, the two technicians fixed some of the smaller problems and after that, the hassle started. –

    During the following 6 ½ weeks, we received uncompleted works, followed by exhausting long explanations; why things cannot be done or why the technician would not show up the next day(s).

    We tired by Email and Phone to get the promised service, but on the 14th of May we finally had to leave Whangarei with only 35 % of the works completed.

    Within the concluded works, we want to mention the installation of our Nautical Charts, as only after having reached Australia, we found out, that the charts were totally outdated and one of the newer Plotters would not be able to read them at all.

    Soon after having departed New Zealand, we received the Invoice No.: 219878 for Job Ref.: 225479.

    The “given service” was charged with a total of NZD 6.801,88 as an equivalent of about 70 working hours.

    Now, remembering the WRITTEN OFFER I had received upfront, stating 6 – 8 working hours, this Mckay-Experience came out 10 times more expensive, of what was offered. . . . . and still leaving 65 % of the job unattended and with some outdated charts loaded into the system.

    I paid the invoice, but promised that I would let you folks know about the business politics of the official FURUNO Representative in Whangarei. – So please be aware of McKay Ltd – Ben Haselden – 38 Water St Ph: 09 470 1910 [email protected] http://www.mckay.co.nz . . . . for sure, his stories are fare better than his works.

  4. June 24, 2019 at 12:48 AM
    lapecadora says:

    During winter break 18/19 we left our boat, a KER 63 in Whangarei, New Zealand and gave all 9 Sails to CALIBRE SAILS – Mr. Dave Parr http://www.calibresails.co.nz
    During the time the boat spent on the hard, Dave and his very well trained crew, re-stitched and repaired all worn sails, built a completely new three-part Bimini, that fits like a glove and had everything ready, the date we arrived back to New Zealand. – no pushing; no arguing; no nothing was necessary besides the brilliant & spotless work he gave us.

    This is worth a VERY BIG CONGRATULATION !!

    In very few occasions I have seen someone so dedicated to his work like Dave. – 100 % helpful, hardworking, punctual and very professionally trained for all works related with sail making and canvassing. –

    All offered prices were respected, although in one case an unintentionally hidden issue surely have caused some additional working hours to CALIBRE SAILS, but no additional charges applied – it was a real pleasure working with Dave in Whangarei.

  5. May 24, 2018 at 9:38 AM
    LAPECADORA says:

    Early November 2018 we hauled our KER 63 at Port Whangarei Marine Center / Oceania Marine and were welcomed by the new Management of this company.

    From the very start Mr. Tim Vernon and his highly professional Crew, accompanied all our needs without any hassle and straight to the point.

    The haul out was done in a very professional manner, a quite complicated operation, as our draft is 3,60 meters, but Jim & his Crew had everything under control and braced the yacht skillfully.

    Previously I had sent an Email, with all points that needed to be attended and only one day after haul out, Mr. Tim organized a very complete schedule, so before leaving the country, I could talk to every single Engineer who was going to fix or repair something on board. –

    The Staff of Port Whangarei Marine Center / Oceania Marine wrote down a very detailed description of every single work, asked qualified questions and requested my WhatsApp contact, in case there would rise additional inquiries.

    During the following weeks I received weekly updates and even short videos via Whatsapp, informing me about the Status of our boat.

    As soon as unplanned or additional works were necessary, I was not only informed, but were offered two or three alternatives of how to attend or repair this issue.

    After coming back from our Christmas vacations we spent at home, we found our boat in 1A conditions after important repair & maintenance work had been done.

    Between other things, our old Bowthruster had to be exchanged (including extended GRP lamination works (at this point my VERY SPECIAL THANKS to Allister), the Mast was laid and thoroughly checked, repainting of small and mid-sized scratches on the Hull & Keel were attended, as well as some electrical issues we had with our Victron-Lithium-Ferro Battery System, that sometimes under way, decided to cause a complete electrical blackout. – all this was attended & solved to our complete satisfaction –

    Just before going back into the water, our boat was polished all over and looked like new, even though we had already put on 18.400 NM after having left the building site in Slovenia by middle of 2017.

    For the year 2019 we will carry on going west and want to reach Singapore by the End of November, if we could, we would take with us this brilliant and very good working company, we found in Port of Whangarei Marine Center.

    Congratulations & please carry on this very same way.

  6. May 24, 2018 at 5:28 AM
    Data Entry1 says:

    Refit in Whangarei: Bad experiences with Port Whangarei Marine Center / Oceania Marine

    From November 2017 to April 2018 I stayed in Whangarei for the refit of my Jongert 20S in Port Whangarei Marine Center/Oceania Marine Refit Services Ltd.

    I have had very bad experiences with these companies and I can absolutely not recommend going there for a refit. Almost all the jobs that I had commissioned there were done so inadequately that they had to be renewed two or three times on a guarantee basis. These warranty services were only done after I had engaged a lawyer and was seriously searching for a surveyor. Previously I was threatened that the ship would be relocated to the longtime hardstand without power supply until I would pay the outstanding bills completely! I received invoices that were clearly excessive and I was openly lied to by the assigned project manager.

    Below I will describe some details to give you an impression of my experiences:

    The refit included
    1. Repairment and repaint of some scratches on the hull (about 8 areas, altogether about 1m²) and appliance of two layers of clear coat (AWLGrip varnish) on the complete hull above the waterline
    -> after the first paint job as well after the second paint job (warranty service) there were lots of runners, overspray, orange peel, visible inclusions of dust and insects in the paint; after the third paint job (warranty service) there were still sweat drops on the paint as well as visible scratches from the sanding

    2. The appliance of two layers of antifouling
    -> rusty areas under the keel were just painted over, thus after a few days the paint peeled off; now we are about one month back in the water and already the antifouling starts to peel off just under the water line!

    3. Some parts of the main mast and the booms had shown damages due to oxidation around the screws; these parts had to be repaired, 30% of the mast and the whole booms had to be repainted
    -> lots of runners on the booms, they were polished although according to AWLGrip this is not allowed because it destroys the UV-protection

    4. Varnishing of the outer pilot house (max. 3m²) and 3 wooden panels
    -> the work was done in an unbelievable slow tempo (which means lots of hours on my bill!) and was done very badly (lots of runners, overspray and orange peel). After the second warranty service, I was so fed up from the slow procedure and the bad quality of the work that I did the sanding and varnishing by myself. Generously I was reimbursed for the material used, but not even one of the working hours that I have saved them.

    5. Small repairments on the teak wood – this was the only work that was done to my satisfaction.

    Before I came to New Zealand I had contacted Oceania Marine Refit Services Ltd. and we made a contract for the refit. However, when I arrived in Whangarei the yacht was hauled out at Port Whangarei Marine Center – a kind of subcontractor – and the whole refit work was done there. I should have read the small print carefully then I would have been aware of that – however, I did not and so I was caught by surprise. The ship was not painted in the shiny shed advertised on the website of Oceania Marine – instead, the ship was lifted into a shed at Port Whangarei Marine Center that was absolutely not suitable to paint a superyacht. The floor was so dirty that if I dropped a screw it was difficult to find it back in the dust and rubbish piles. The shed had not even a sewage system, so if the hull or the floor were washed the water had to be swept outside manually. Not to speak of the non-existent exhaust air system or the insufficient lighting… Nevertheless, 500NZ$ per day were charged for that shed during the paint job!

    I was forced to pay for a fixed scaffolding for the paint job which alone cost me about 8.000 NZ$. The scaffold was made from rusty iron and was very dirty, it was used on a construction site before. I asked several times for a mobile scaffold from aluminium (which would have cost me much less!), but the project manager told me that a fixed scaffolding would be mandatory for such work due to workplace safety regulations in New Zealand. Later I found out that this was an obvious lie! When the paint job had to be redone as a warranty service it was suddenly no problem at all to use mobile scaffolding. This lie had cost me around 6.000 NZ$ extra.

    In general, the work on the ship proceeded very slow (thus lots of hours were billed…), the work was done in complicated ways (e.g. unnecessary masking and unmasking of the hull) and materials were wasted (e.g. I was billed for 600 pairs of gloves used by 3 workers who were painting the hull, more than 2500 m of tape for masking, 21 plastic buckets for whatever and so on). On everything that was used they added a hefty commission, e.g. for the AWLGrip paint they charged more than 50% on top of the price the shipyard had paid for it – very greedy!!!

    Just to give another example of the extraordinary greediness of this company: I was offered “help” with a money transfer. On the next invoice, they charged more than 10% of the transferred sum for the “assistance” – more than 70 NZ$ for the work of a few minutes!

    Almost all the invoices that I received weekly contained billing errors. E.g. working hours of other boats were billed on me, I was billed the price of tools that I had just borrowed and given back; working hours for warranty services were billed on me and so on. After I have checked all the invoices and worksheets I detected more than 3.200 NZ$ that I was obvious billed wrongly. At least this money was paid back to me. I really wonder how many billing mistakes I was not able to detect so easily… Besides I was billed all breakfast breaks of the workers (1/2 hour every day) as well as all the meetings they have had, including health and safety meetings.

    A project manager was assigned to my refit project who behaved very unprofessional. On many of my emails, I received no answer. He refused to inspect faulty work that I wanted to complain about and he was not willing to discuss the problems that I have mentioned above (and many other problems that occurred) with me. Imagine, he even wrote me in an email that he would meet me only if my partner would not be present at the meeting (maybe he was afraid that my partner – who is a Doctor of Psychology – will detect immediately when he was lying again…).

    All in all, it was a very unpleasant, unsatisfactory, disappointing and very expensive experience – I wish no one to experience it.

    Klaus Hohberg
    S/Y Lapita

    For more details feel free to contact me: [email protected]

  7. May 13, 2017 at 2:59 PM
    Data Entry1 says:

    This comment was posted on the main Auckland page and has been moved.
    vaughncooper says:
    May 12, 2017 06:20 AM

    Re. HAULOUT: We had an excellent experience at NORSAND boatyard in Whangerai.

    Although their slipway is tidal and they can only haul or splash a few boats a day, they yard is professionally run, there was no pressure to hurry with haul and lanuch and the team were very helpful throughout our two-week stay. It’s the first yard we’ve visited where we didn’t encounter any barriers to getting work done and where the staff were more than willing to give tips and advice so you could complete a job yourself! I particularly appreciated that!

    They have excellent on-site services which you must use if needed (i.e. boat builder, rigger etc), otherwise, you can bring services in from outside (i.e. if they don’t offer them in the yard – such as an engineer).

    There is a small store on-site that carries almost all necessities for yacht maintenance and if you’re organised, Holger (the very friendly German guy who runs the shop) can order pretty much anything you need.

    Everything is close-by, although a car was very helpful to run into the centre of Whangarei to get paint etc. You can rent a bike from Dave at the slipway for a very reasonable price (we even took this option for a day because we couldn’t be bothered getting our own bikes out).

    A very good experience and highly recommended to other cruisers!
    Website: norsand.co.nz

  8. December 1, 2016 at 1:02 AM
    Data Entry1 says:

    Note the Marinas and opening bridge in Whangarei have changed VHF to Channel 18.

  9. November 17, 2016 at 11:05 PM
    Data Entry1 says:

    Yacht refit management in Whangarei – at the end of March 2016, we hauled Lady, a Catalina 470 at Riverside Drive Marina. RDM did a fine job taking care of Lady while we were out of the country for six months. We engaged Bruce Bird [email protected] to wax the hull, bottom job and supervise the other tradesmen. We contracted with UK sails for a new dodger and Bimini, Steve Green for re-upholstering the interior, Dave Berg for interior varnish and C Spar Ltd for rigging work.

    I can recommend all of these tradesmen without hesitation. All work was completed on time and for a fair price. There are numerous boatyards in Whangarei with skilled tradesmen. Anyone needing a refit should seriously consider Whangerei

  10. December 3, 2015 at 3:27 PM
    Data Entry1 says:

    International Shipping – We finished our trip in Whangarei and needed to ship some personal effects and boat items to Ireland. We struggled to find someone who would deal with the small volume but eventually found a great company called Overseas Moving run by Ian Colton – http://www.overseasmoving.co.nz/ He supplied us with packaging and we were continually updated throughout the process, I’d recommend him for anyone needing anything shipped to or from NZ.

  11. September 21, 2014 at 11:13 AM
    Data Entry1 says:

    From Anthony Swanston of S/V Wild Fox
    Friends of mine had work done on their windlass by Ray Roberts Marine based at Riverside Drive Marina, Whangarei. It does not matter how good a contractor is, mistakes do happen, and a mistake happened here. When they got to Indonesia the windlass stopped working due to water ingress caused by a failed seal. Obviously not wanting to send the unit back to New Zealand they had repairs done in Bali. Ray Roberts Marine covered not only the cost of the repair but also the cost or two nights of marina fees and even the cost of extra diesel fuel to get to the marina.

    Now, that is the sort of business I would want to do business with.

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