Since taking over the reins of what was previously known as Island Cruising Association in December 2017, the new owners have been working hard to improve the experiences of Kiwi cruisers heading offshore.

Our first job, says Nigel Richards, was to change the brand name to Island Cruising NZ, or ICNZ.

“A fresh start to our new ideas. As a liveaboard family, we hope to encourage more families to make the seasonal excursion to the South West Pacific.” The family lives aboard its Roberts 53 yacht – Varekai – moored in Whangarei Town Basin.

During the first season under new management Island

Cruising NZ assisted 33 boats through the Kingdom of Tonga, the largest fleet ever to arrive at Nuku’alofa. With a mixture of mono, multihulls and a 22m launch, the fleet enjoyed a cruise through the three island groups, assisted by the Tongan Ministry of Tourism which also wanted to be involved.

The company aims to encourage first-time offshore cruisers


to make the journey north. “We derived huge satisfaction last year watching a few newbies ‘fly the nest’,” says Richards. “With favourable trade winds some headed north through Niuatoputapu to Samoa before heading for Fiji.”

He is now in the final preparations for the 2019 Pacific Circuit Rally, which will visit Tonga, Fiji, via clearance in the Lau group, Vanuatu and finally New Caledonia before returning to New Zealand. Clearance will be undertaken in the Loyalty Islands before visiting the Southern Lagoon and Grand Terre.

Interest in the rally, he adds, has been overwhelming with more than 40 vessels registered. Next year will see the first rallies into Vanuatu and New Caledonia for a longer visit in each country.