(Windy) Wellington, the windiest place in NZ, comprises a
large natural harbour opening out south into Cook Straight, which
acts as a large wind tunnel for the southerly winds straight off
the Antarctic. The prevailing wind is northwesterly and there are
a number of locations around the inner harbour to sail from, as
well as Lyall Bay on the south coast and Plimmerton on the West.
Local shop is Wild Winds at Chaffers Marina in the city. Winds in
the +30knots are not uncommon and southerlies are BIG days.
Quivers in Wellington generally range from 6.5m down to 3.0m,
long boards are not too common. Local windsurfing club is the Wellington Windsurfing Association.
Wind information can be obtained on WINDLINE,
a local wind reporting system. For accommodation there are
numerous hostels in the city and a camp in Lower Hutt. Other
activities in the region include mountain biking, hang gliding,
canoeing, sailing,walking/ hiking/ tramping, rock climbing,
museums, wineries, the biannual International Festival of the
Arts. The central city is situated in a large harbour. Take the
ferry to the other side and you will land in Eastbourne, a quiet
holiday town with a few shops and beautiful beaches, or sail over
on a long- board, and explore the island in the middle of the
harbour. Take care of the ferries, and the weather, it can get
very rough and windy.
Dial-a-forecast: 0900 999 11 / 0900
Info Centre: Civic Centre. Cnr
Wakefield & Victoria Sts. Ph 04 801 4000
Local Shops: Wild Winds at Chaffers
Hire Schools: Available at the above shop.
Access: Launch from Shelly Bay on the
Miramar side, or the head of Evans Bay in a NW, or Kio Bay in
strong N or S winds.
Suits: Slalom, longboarding. Beginners....
Wind: N and S brings strong winds.
Water: N = swell. S = flat.
Watch: Coarse angular stones on beach. Shoes
recommended. Busy yachting area, also some boats tow fishing
In Detail: Evans Bay acts as a north/south
wind tunnel and is sailable in either direction, appears to
be THE place to go near the city if there's any wind to be
had and Lyall Bay or Plimmerton are not worth the effort. Not
recommended for beginners as beaches are small and rocky, and
wind turbulent near the shore. Good chop when wind gets up.
Launching all round bay, although Kio Bay on city side and
Shark Bay (no sharks!) on the opposite side are preferred.
Rigging and parking limited, but that doesn't stop multitudes
from sailing at some locations.
Access: 8 minutes drive south of the city.
Launching only from the western end in rough conditions.
Suits: Wavesailing. Experienced...
Wind: SW = cross onshore. SE = onshore -
difficult to get off beach
Water: The Antarctic swell can reach up to 3
Watch: The shore break packs a mean punch.
The wind strength is deceptively less from the footpath. Take
out a sail big enough to keep in front of the white water.
In Detail:South of Evans Bay next to the
airport, this is the "the" wavesailing spot in
Wellington, but only in southerlies. Launch at the western
end near the (old) Southcoast shop. Lyall Bay has a
reputation for wrecking gear, also has surfers to contend
with so I recommend it only for experienced wavesailers.
Access: 8 minutes drive from Wellington
City. Grass rigging area and a kiosk for refreshments.
Suits: Slalom, longboard. Beginners...
Wind: Southerly directions are best. N =
Water: Flat - harbour swell good for jumping
Watch: Offshore northerly winds - if your
gear breaks, it's a long drift to Eastbourne.
In Detail: Travel out from Wellington
towards the Hutt Valley, turn off at Petone and go along the
foreshore to the far end. Parking just before the road leaves
the shore and rigging in the adjacent picnic area, or better
still veer away from the beach past the Mobil Service Station
then take the first right, go across the park and rig just
behind the sand dunes. Sandy beach drops away slowly, watch
out for sand bars at low tide. Petone is best during a
southerly (onshore), in light winds is good for beginners and
slalom, as wind gets stronger then wave boards for chop
hopping etc are the order of the day. Waves up to 1-2 metres
but strong winds make aerial maneuvers interesting. Good for
Wellingtons extreme wind days as there is plenty of sheltered
rigging on grass. Playgrounds, funparks and shops make it
good for family forays too.
Access: 10 minutes drive around the harbour
towards Eastbourne. Small enclosed artificial beach west of
Suits: Intermediate and up, slalom/longboard
plus wave in strong southerlies.
Wind: Anything from S through W to NW
Water: The southerly swell builds at river
mouth, standing waves.
Watch: Sometimes river is polluted after
heavy rain, also logs etc.
In Detail: This is a new development but has
potential. Continue past Petone towards Eastbourne across the
Hutt River, turn right at the roundabout and follow road
around to the Marina. A small sheltered beach has been formed
at the mouth of the river facing west, and if the development
plans are put in place then grassed areas and parking will be
plentiful. Beach provides sheltered launching into southerly
and northerly, and southerly swell meeting river (often in
flood) creates an interesting wave effect. Potentially an
ideal race/event location because of the north/south sailing.
Access: Around the harbour from the
city, about 20 mins drive
Suits: Intermediate to advanced, slalom and
longboard. Beginners on quiet days
Wind: NW is best, N and S sailable but a bit
difficult off the beach
Water: Harbour chop
Watch: Ferries, other boats.
In Detail: Keep going around to Eastbourne,
DON'T stop at Days Bay unless you want to show off/ look
stupid/ get frustrated or hire a catamaran.( there are boards
for hire here sometimes too). After Days Bay there are
innumerable locations to sail, starting at Windy Point and
heading south past the yacht club, wharf and down to the
rugby club. Heaps of grassed areas, usually sheltered. Best
sailed in a northwesterly (prevailing wind) but usable in
anything from northerly to southerly that doesn't have an
easterly component. In light winds is slalom territory, chop
hopping etc as it gets stronger, bigger waves in 40+ Knots.
Lots of local facilities for other recreation, playgrounds,
walks, shops, tennis courts, coastal walk/bike ride.
Eastbourne is a good launch spot for harbour blast/cruise to
Ward Island, Seatoun, Oriental Bay/ Evans Bay or up the
harbour towards Petone. You may have to swim in/out of some
places (i.e. Days Bay). Watch out for ferries if crossing the
shipping lanes! I sail here most of the time because its
convenient but also reliable - if theres wind then Eastbourne
is probably OK.
Access: From the city go around past the
airport and through the Seatoun Tunnel.
Suits: Intermediate, slalom and longboard
Wind: N, NE at Seatoun Beach, S, SE at
Scorching Bay (north)
Water: Fairly flat, chop in stronger winds.
Watch: Ferries , also be aware
that Cook Strait is just around the corner if you break gear!
In Detail: As you come out of the
Seatoun Tunnel head north towards the beach, go right at the
beach if it's a northerly, keep heading around the coast in a
southerly. Sail across towards Eastbourne, but watch for
ferries and note that as you clear the headland you're in
line with Cook Strait, if you get into trouble swim or you'll
drift out. Scorching Bay is a swimming beach so be careful,
and watch for ferries coming around the corner (up 40 knots
and BIG!). Probably best place in a NE (apart from Evans
Bay). Many windsurfers have bought houses there.