New Zealand is a great choice for any kind of outdoor holiday, as its varied landscape provides the perfect backdrop for all sorts of activities. One it is particularly suited to is yachting, as there is so much to see and do on its 9,300 miles of coastline.
Perhaps the best area to choose for a New Zealand sailing holiday is the Bay of Islands in the Northland region. The 50-mile stretch of the North Island's coast is among the most beautiful places in the Land of the Long White Cloud and has something for everyone.
Charter a yacht here and you can moor up in quiet coves to relax on deserted white-sand beaches, see eye-catching underwater rock formations at some prime scuba diving sites and visit a selection of the historic towns that look out over the South Pacific. There are also 80 islands in the Bay to explore, including some where you will spot unusual wildlife.
One of the reasons why the Bay of Islands is ideal for a holiday at sea is that sailing here is straightforward, despite the weather in New Zealand being unpredictable. The Bay is sheltered from extreme conditions, so the summer (November to April) is pleasantly warm rather than blisteringly hot and it is mild during the rest of the year.
Most of your journeys will be short and you will never have to worry about lack of wind, as there is a strong breeze most days. The direction and speed of this is variable, but it is rarely anything that even relatively inexperienced skippers would struggle to cope with. The tidal range is around 6 ft, but there are some narrow channels with strong currents to look out for.
The Bay of Islands is packed with beautiful scenery that also acts as a habitat for a range of wildlife. As you tour the area in your yacht, you should spot blue penguins and dolphins, as well as gannets and other seabirds.
Make sure you stop at the tranquil Cavalli Islands, which you can explore on foot. The smaller isles are deserted and will allow you to experience a sense of genuine solitude.
The largest island in the group, Motukawanui, is a nature reserve that has been cleared of predators to allow native species to flourish. As you walk the rugged 2-mile track that will take you around the island's many archaeological sites, you may be lucky enough to see brown kiwis, reef herons and the endangered New Zealand dotterel.
There are lots of peaceful coves lined by white-sand beaches here where you can drop anchor and go swimming or snorkelling. To get a better look at what is under the waves, you can arrange a scuba diving trip to see caves, corals and rock formations.
One popular local dive site is the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace ship bombed by the French intelligence services in 1985. Two years later it was scuttled near the Cavalli Islands to act as an artificial reef.
There are a number of charming towns to visit during your time in the Bay of Islands, including Paihia and Kerikeri. One you must not miss is Russell, which was once the capital of New Zealand, but is now a small settlement packed with old buildings, museums, friendly bars and excellent seafood restaurants.