Australia to New Zealand

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Australia to New Zealand
Tasman sea.png
Tasman Sea
Route 1
Route 2

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This describes the east bound passage from Australia to New Zealand across the Tasman Sea


The passage involves at least 1100nm sailing across the Tasman Sea. The distance from the nearest departure point (approximately Sydney) to the northern tip of New Zealand is a little under 1100nm, while the distance to Nelson is just short of 1200nm.

Much of this passage will be done upwind, due to the reasonable likelihood of encountering easterly winds both at the start and the end of the passage. Some comfortable sailing in light to moderate winds can be expected in the summer months. If the passage is taken in the winter months then a higher probability of sailing downwind occurs, at the expense of stronger winds and rougher conditions at sea.

Although the passage is not free from danger, a reasonably safe passage can be expected by a well prepared crew on a suitably prepared sea going vessel.


Land Information NZ
NZ14601 -- Tasman Sea New Zealand to SE Australia
Australian Hydrographic Service
AUS4601 South Pacific Ocean - Tasman Sea New Zealand to SE Australia
AUS4602 South Pacific Ocean - Tasman and Coral Seas Australia to Northern New Zealand and Fiji


See Tasman Sea

Weather Windows

The best time of year to do this passage is debatable. Although it's normally done in the summer months (November to March or thereabouts), there is some advantage in doing the passage from west to east in the southern hemisphere winter, when the prevailing winds, especially across the southern half of the Tasman Sea are more westerly.

Be aware however that this westerly wind pattern is due to the northwards encroachment of the roaring forties with all that entails. In short, expect the winds to be significantly stronger in the winter months, the waves to be significantly higher, and the chances of encountering a gale or storm to be significantly greater.

Personally I would not choose to be out on the Tasman Sea during the winter months, and that speaks from the experience of having done so several times -- Delatbabel


Add any navigation notes such approaches, dangers etc here. If this section does not apply remove it.


Also see World Cruiser's Nets.

Possible Departure Points

Departure points from Australia must be a port of entry. Departure ports in New South Wales are most commonly used although it's possible to reach across the Tasman from Queensland or Victoria

Although it's technically possible to reach across the northern Tasman Sea from points north of Brisbane, doing so extends the journey somewhat. A preferred option would be to sail southwards to Brisbane first and then into the Tasman.

Personally I think that there is little to be gained by attempting a crossing of the Tasman Sea directly from Melbourne. I would sail around to Twofold Bay first to wait a suitable weather window and depart from there. Attempting to get a suitable weather window for entering the Bass Strait to line up with a weather window for crossing the Tasman Sea would be difficult.

More intrepid sailors than I have (and do) cross the Tasman Sea departing from Hobart, Tasmania and taking the more southerly route to Stewart Island, Bluff (Invercargill) or Dunedin. Call me a wimp if you like but I prefer to sail in warmer climates.

Route/Suggested Stopovers

The obvious stop over is Lord Howe Island/wiki/Australia_to_New_Zealand#.5B.5BLord_Howe_Island.5D.5DIsland icon Lord Howe Island [[Australia to New Zealand#Lord Howe Island|Lord Howe Island]] 31°33.000'S, 159°05.000'E . There is a suitable lagoon at the island where calm conditions and shelter can be expected. This does not add significantly to the journey if you are departing from Sydney or any points north. A straight line to Lord Howe Island can be set from any of the ports in NSW or southern Queensland, although you need to be aware of a couple of sea mounts about half way on a straight line between Newcastle and Lord Howe Island -- plan a route passing either north or south of these to avoid any additional swell that they can sometimes cause (however fishing enthusiasts may prefer to pass close to the sea mounts due to the aggregation of pelagic fish in the area).

Departing from Hobart to Bluff or Stewart Island would involve a route too far south of Lord Howe Island to consider it a useful stop over.

Possible Arrival Points

Arrival ports are restricted by the requirement to arrive at a port of entry. There are no useful ports of entry on the west coast of New Zealand and so a sail over the north of New Zealand's North Island into Opua (the first port of entry sailing southwards), or between the two islands into Nelson or Wellington is required.

Distance & Duration

SV Rainbow motor-sailing close reefed towards New Zealand from Brisbane

Due to the shape of the Australian and New Zealand cost lines, the direct route passage is around 1100 nautical miles regardless of the departure or arrival points.

A detour to Lord Howe Island adds some days and around 200nm to the shortest route of the passage, however this detour is well worth while for the reasons of (a) a comfortable stop over while waiting for a weather window for the rest of the journey, and (b) access to the met office on Lord Howe Island which will provide a reasonably accurate expectation of the winds and weather conditions for the remainder of the journey.


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See Also


Books, Guides, etc. Use the Reference template or not at your discretion. For example:

Rod HeikelGreek Waters Pilot Imray, Laurie and Wilson, Cambridgeshire (2010), 9780852889718, ISBN Unknown, expands to
Rod Heikell, Greek Waters Pilot Imray, Laurie and Wilson, Cambridgeshire (2010), ISBN 9780852889718
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  • Author, Title, Publisher, ISBN ISBN number

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  • Delatbabel -- I have sailed this passage several times and I'm not dead yet. I always stop at Lord Howe Island, despite the extra time and distance it's the sensible thing to do.

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Names: Haiqu, Delatbabel

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