Historic Tall Ships Festival set for 'City of Sails'
08 Oct 2013
With a vast harbour, rich marine heritage and a thriving maritime industry, Auckland is known to be at the forefront of boating technology - but New Zealand’s ‘City of Sails’ is set to turn back the clock when some of the world’s most historic tall ships sail into town.
Nine ships and over 800 sailors will converge on the Auckland waterfront over Labour Weekend (25 - 28 October) when the inaugural Tall Ship Festival makes its impressive arrival.
The magnificent vessels will head to New Zealand after events in Australia, competing in the first ever Trans-Tasman Tall Ship race from Sydney to the small Northland town of Opua - a popular cruising destination and the northernmost port of entry for overseas vessels in the Bay of Islands.
Spirit of New Zealand
From Opua, the flotilla of tall ships will be led by New Zealand’s own Spirit of New Zealand, sailing down the north-eastern coast to Auckland’s North Head naval port.
Spectators will be able to watch the ships from vantage points around the Waitemata Harbour as the ships leave North Head to be guided into berths at Hobson, Queen's and Prince's Wharves by an historically precious and culturally significant Maori waka / canoe.
Thousands are expected to attend the three-day festival - hosted by Auckland’s Voyager New Zealand Martine Museum - as the city relives the historical significance of these beautiful vessels that carried past generations on the long sea journey from Europe.
The visually striking ships are a testament to the ingenuity of past boat-builders and will provide a unique and contrasting edge to the Auckland waterfront as they sit in a marine area brimming with some of the most technological advanced boat and super-yacht construction in the world.
One such tall ship is the three-masted Bark Europa from The Netherlands. At 102 years, this magnificent vessel is the oldest and largest in the fleet and exerts a commanding presence on the water.
The fleet will also include the Dutch schooner Oosterschelde, and the smallest vessel Young Endeavour - gifted to Australia from the UK in 1988.
The special admiral Lord Nelson of the United Kingdom - the first tall ship in the world to have been designed and built to cater for people of all physical abilities - will also arrive with the fleet.
The public will have a chance to explore the ships as they are opened to the public on Saturday and Sunday, giving spectators the chance to marvel at some of New Zealand’s own beautiful tall ships.
Busiest youth ship
Spirit of New Zealand is a three-masted barquentine nautical masterpiece that has been delighting the people of New Zealand since it was commissioned in 1986.
Operated and maintained by the Auckland-based Spirit of Adventure Trust, Spirit of New Zealand is thought to be one of the busiest youth ships in the world as it undertakes an annual programme of 340 days at sea.
Another recognisable New Zealand tall ship, the R Tucker Thompson, will also appear at the festival. This traditional gaff-rigged schooner was commissioned in the 1970s, and was completed in the 1980s by R Tucker Thompson’s sons after his death.
This vessel has continued to provide life-changing challenges and moments for the youth of New Zealand ever since.
Exceptional sailing experience
Based in the sub-tropical Northland region of the Bay of Islands, the R Tucker Thompson also provides an exceptional sailing experience for tourists.
Day trips on the R Tucker Thompson operate from November to Easter and give visitors the chance to experience a working ship. Profits made from tourism on the magnificent ship help to keep the vessel in good condition and support youth sail training programmes.
The Voyager New Zealand Martine Museum’s own tall ship The Breeze will also make an appearance at the festival as this wonderful free-entry museum allows visitors to further explore New Zealand’s strong ties with the sea.
The Tall Ships Festival is a unique event that is set to transform the Auckland waterfront for one special weekend, and will be complimented with a variety of nautical themed events held around Auckland’s thriving waterfront.
- Spirit of New Zealand (NZ)
- Young Endeavour (Australia)
- Lord Nelson (United Kingdom)
- Picton Castle (Canada)
- Bark Europa (Netherlands)
- Oosterschelde (Netherlands)
- Tecla (Netherlands)
- R Tucker Thompson (NZ)
- Breeze (NZ)
Tall Ships Festival events
Friday (25/10): Ships arrive into Auckland at 2 - 3pm (approx)
Saturday (26/10): Crew parade along waterfront to The Cloud on Queens Wharf for official welcome and powhiri /Maori welcome - ships open for public viewing from 11am
Sunday (27/10): Ships open for public viewing from 10am, festival and activities on Auckland’s waterfront and the Cloud
Monday (28/10): Ships depart at 12.00pm with a full naval salute from Orakei Wharf
Spectators can also enjoy the awe-inspiring experience of sailing into Auckland harbour with the ships - or enjoy a variety of other sailing packages available from Auckland’s The Voyager New Zealand Martine Museum.
Backgrounder: Waka - New Zealand’s first boat
New Zealand - land of boatbuilders
Sailing Auckland's Hauraki Gulf
Fact file: New Zealand - a sailing nation
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