New Zealand to Australia

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New Zealand to Australia
Tasman sea.png
Tasman Sea


This describes the west bound passage from New Zealand to Australia.


The passage involves at least 1100nm sailing across the Tasman Sea. The distance from the nearest departure point (either Nelson or Opua) to the nearest arrival point in Australia (approximately Sydney) is just short of 1200nm.

If this passage is done in the summer months a reasonably safe passage with a high proportion of downwind sailing can be expected.

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 to attempt this passage is in the summer months when a higher proportion of downwind sailing can be expected due to the roaring forties band of westerly winds having moved further south.

Vessels attempting this passage in the southern hemisphere winter have in the past encountered various mishaps -- the most recent being the loss of the SV Nina in 2013 en route from Opua to Sydney.


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 ports are restricted by the requirement to depart from 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 from Opua (the first port of entry sailing southwards), or between the two islands from Nelson or Wellington is required.

I would not depart from further south, for example Invercargill due to the passage being upwind into heavy conditions in those latitudes. Instead traverse up the East Coast of the South Island as far as Nelson and depart from there.

Route/Suggested Stopovers

Chiara Stella sailing downwind from Lord Howe Island towards Sydney

The obvious stop over is Lord Howe Island. 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 heading towards Sydney or any points north. A straight line to Lord Howe Island can be set from any of the ports in New Zealand.

A suitable weather window should be able to be found from the met office at Lord Howe Island for a comfortable down wind sail to Sydney.

Possible Arrival Points

Arrival points into Australia must be a port of entry. Ports of entry in New South Wales are most commonly used.

I would not use an arrival port further south of Sydney for this passage, again due to the possibility of encountering contrary winds. Instead I would arrive at Sydney and traverse south down the coast of New South Wales to my intended destination.

Distance & Duration

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.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)


See Also


See New Zealand.


We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

  • Delatbabel -- I have sailed this passage once and I'm not dead yet.

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Names: Haiqu, Delatbabel

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