Auckland welcomed the world’s toughest sailors when the Volvo Ocean Race came into port on the early hours of Wednesday March 1.
Boats competing in the gruelling round the world race will be in Auckland until 18 March.
Auckland, aptly named the 'City of Sails' is one of the most popular ports of call during the race thanks to the legendary welcome extended by the Kiwi boating public. New Zealand has more boats per capita than any other country in the world and sailing fever has again engulfed the nation following Emirates Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup win in Bermuda last June.
Amongst crew in the seven competing teams are the Kiwi sailing legends, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke both part of the winning America’s Cup team. James Blake, son of Kiwi yachting hero Sir Peter Blake is also taking part as an onboard reporter.
While the Kiwi crew are familiar with New Zealand’s exceptional sailing waters, many of the yachties and supporters will be visiting for the first time. With nearly 16,000 km (10,000 miles) of coastline, it’s almost impossible to escape the sea in New Zealand and the visitors will have ample opportunity to explore the many stunning bays and islands, sheltered harbours, mountain fiords and lakes that make up this boating paradise.
The maritime reserves in the Bay of Islands, the Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds are among the most beautiful cruising spots in the world and Fiordland, on the southern west coast, with its deep fiords and glacial lakes is one of the most unique sailing venues on the planet.
The Volvo Ocean race is held every three years and since its inception in 1973 has become the world’s number one offshore competition, testing sailors and yachts to the limit. The seven competing teams left Alicante, Spain, in October and will cover 45,000 nautical miles, sail across four oceans and leave six continents in their wake as they race to finish line in The Netherlands by October 2018.
Auckland is one of 12 host cities during the 12 month-long circumnavigation and will be the longest stop over giving teams time to complete maintenance and prepare for the action packed southern ocean leg to Brazil.
The Volvo Ocean Race is considered to be the longest and toughest professional sporting event in the world. It’s also sailing’s toughest team challenge and one of the sport’s ‘big three’ alongside the Olympics and the America’s Cup.
Just as it was in 2015, Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour will be transformed into a vibrant race village for the 2018 stopover with plenty of action to keep fans entertained throughout the race weeks. Visitors can view the Volvo Ocean 65 boats on the dock and get amongst the team bases in a pit-lane that provides an insight into the crew experience.
Attractions include interactive displays including a grinding challenge, big screens showing race coverage, a stage with a programme of live performance, shops and hospitality spaces to enjoy the sailing festival atmosphere.
More about Auckland
Rated among the world's 10 most liveable cities, Auckland is home to one-third of New Zealanders and has the world’s largest Pacific Island population. This vibrant multicultural mix infuses the region's cuisine, music, art and culture with colour and diversity. The subtropical climate promotes casual coastal living and outdoor adventure and activity.
Perched on a narrow isthmus between two harbours, Auckland is the ultimate marine playground, with everyday life revolving around the sea. With the sea at its doorstep, there are so many ways to get out onto the city's sparkling harbours. As well as providing transport to outer suburbs and islands, the sea influences everything here, from cuisine, industry, culture and design to leisure pursuits and sports activities.
The region’s diversity of people and landscapes gives an extra dimension to visitors' experience. Within half an hour of the fashionable boutiques and cafés of downtown Auckland, they can be sipping wine at an island vineyard, hiking through rainforest or exploring a black sand beach on the rugged west coast.