Tasman Sea

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WorldPacific OceanSouth PacificTasman Sea

An online cruising guide for yachts sailing around the Tasman Sea.

Tasman Sea
40°00.000'S, 160°00.000'E Chart icon.png
Tasman sea.png
Map of Tasman Sea

The Tasman Sea is a marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean, situated between Australia and New Zealand. It measures approximately 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) across, and extends 2,800 km (approx.) from north to south.

The sea was named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who was the first recorded European to encounter New Zealand and Tasmania. The British explorer Captain James Cook later extensively navigated the Tasman Sea in the 1770s as part of his first voyage of exploration.

The Tasman Sea is informally referred to in both Australian and New Zealand English as The Ditch; for example, crossing the ditch means travelling to Australia from New Zealand, or vice versa. The diminutive term "The Ditch" used for the Tasman Sea is comparable to referring to the North Atlantic Ocean as "The Pond".

Although it has a reputation as being one of the roughest stretches of water in the world, at certain times of the year a Tasman Sea crossing can be pleasant and fairly placid. Be aware, however, that as recently as 2013 yachts have been lost in this region without trace (most recently the SV Nina) and so proper planning and preparation for any trip is most strongly advised.

Generally speaking, one does not "cruise" the Tasman Sea, but use it as a passage between two or more of the countries and territories that border it. These include:


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


Weather conditions in the Tasman Sea can be highly variable at any time of the year. Generally speaking, westerly winds prevail over the southern half of the Tasman Sea especially in the southern hemisphere winter, and easterly or south easterly winds prevail in the northern Tasman Sea especially during the southern hemisphere summer.

"Prevail" is a term used highly loosely here, due to the fact that the Tasman Sea is neither in the tropical latitudes nor entirely in the latitudes of prevailing westerlies around and below 40S (the roaring forties). These latitudes are known as the horse latitudes and winds can blow at any strength from any direction at any time of the year.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology publishes a South Eastern High Seas Forecast daily that covers nearly all of the Tasman Sea.

My past experience is that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology forecasts are significantly more accurate for the Tasman Sea area as a whole than any forecast issued in New Zealand -- Delatbabel

Regular updates to forecasts should be obtained while cruising on the Tasman Sea due to the frequent and sometimes unpredictable wind and weather changes -- including but not limited to HF Radio forecasts and/or GRIB data files obtained daily. See the Weather page for more details.

Currents & Tides

The most notable current of the Tasman Sea, especially close to the Australian east coast, is the East Australian Current. This is a warm current that runs southwards from the Coral Sea. In the summer months the current runs as far south as Sydney or even Eden, whereas in the winter months it tapers out by the time it reaches Coffs Harbour.



Also see World Cruiser's Nets.


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{{Reference|Rod Heikel|Greek Waters Pilot Imray||Laurie and Wilson, Cambridgeshire|9780852889718}}, expands to
Rod Heikell, Greek Waters Pilot Imray, Laurie and Wilson, Cambridgeshire, ISBN 9780852889718
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  • Delatbabel -- been there done that several times got the t shirt to prove it.

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Names: Delatbabel

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