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Boating Education – Build the skills and confidence to successfully run your yacht, launch, or motor cruiser.

The People Involved: Chad Thompson

“After a life time of racing and cruising the Auckland Harbour, Hauraki Gulf and NE coast of the North Island I obtained my LLO skipper’s ticket in 1999 and have upgraded that qualification to ILM in 2005. Also in 2005 and 2006 I qualified as a Yachting New Zealand Level 3 Yacht Seamanship Instructor and RYA Offshore Yachtmaster Instructor (Power Driven & Sailing Craft).”

“1999 was the commencement of my professional time afloat chartering the classic yacht “Prize” during the New Zealand’s first defense of the America’s Cup. The following season saw the founding of the business New Zealand Classic Yachts and the running of the yacht “Tawera”, another 50’ classic sloop, in charter alongside ‘Prize’.”

“In 2001 I took over the management of the classic launch “Lady Gay”, a 46’ 1935 classic launch, and in 2002 put her through one of the most extensive restorations ever undertaken in New Zealand. She was relaunched in January 2003 and I ran her, on behalf of her owner, as a luxury charter launch until 2010.”

“A life time of sailing out of Auckland and cruising the Hauraki Gulf and NE coast of the North Island has given me one of the most extensive knowledge bases to call upon for safe and pleasurable cruising for those new to boating in New Zealand and overseas visitors. Cruising in a yacht or launch is meant to be a pleasurable experience and with due attention to the weather forecasts and knowledge of the region it can be just that.”

“As one of the founders of the Classic Yacht Association of NZ, Chad has a wealth of knowledge of early yachting in New Zealand and extensive background knowledge of the NE coast’s cruising grounds. His twenty years of marketing and running charter vessels has also heightened the importance of entertaining overseas clients. Just what is required to enhance the experience of visitors to New Zealand.”

Robin Kenyon

Robin Kenyon, Chad’s son-in-law, grew up in the south of England before setting out on a career in the maritime world. A keen and successful dinghy sailor, he worked for Seldens, the spar makers for several years before joining the big classic yachts in the Mediterranean. There he met Chad’s daughter, Emily, and the rest is history so they say.

They returned to NZ and now live on Waiheke island in the Hauraki Gulf from where Robin commutes to Auckland on a daily basis. There he undertakes refits of locally owned yachts, major varnishing projects on super yachts and in the extreme project manages refits and restorations of large classic yachts. His two most significant projects to date have been work on the 72’ 1893 ketch, Viking – spar restorations, and replacement of her chain plates (while still afloat) and the restoration of NZ’s most successful classic racing yacht, Ariki. He is currently her sailing master as well.

Skipper for hire

After his 20 years in the charter industry, Chad has been able to show his many clients the wonderful cruising grounds of the Hauraki Gulf, Bay of Island, and further north. Check out the itineraries for ideas on what might interest you:

Explore Auckland’s gulf of islands, the Hauraki Gulf, with Chad Thompson (2019-20)

Auckland’s gulf of islands, theHauraki Gulfis one of the great cruising areas of the world extending 35 nautical miles (nm) to the east, 45 nm to the NE and 29 nm to the north of Auckland. The white sandy beaches, safe anchorages and fauna and flora are magnificent and during your time afloat he will take you to some very special places not usually explored by visitors to New Zealand let alone Aucklanders.

Depending upon the time you are able to spend in the Hauraki Gulf we can see a great many of these places. For example on Day #1 we can visit Rangitoto Island and walk to the top of this 700 year old volcano. From up there you can see the far reaches of the Gulf and look back to Auckland. It’s a great way to understand what lies ahead in our cruise of the Gulf.

Alternatively if time is short we can head east, past Waiheke Island and on towards Coromandel Peninsular. If you wish we can stop at one or two of Waiheke’s fine vineyards before moving onto any one of 20 different anchorages on either side of the Firth of Thames. The eastern coastal bays of Ponui Island or Pakihi Island seldom have more than one or two other boats at anchor. As do the harbours and bays on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsular.

In heading east we can then explore the islands on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsular; the Motukawao Group. Motukahaua Island’s Elephant Cove is very special with its towering cliffs, clear water and secluded anchorage.

Alternatively if we stay at Islington Bay after climbing Rangitoto we can head north on Day #2 to Tiritiri Matangi Island, one of New Zealand’s special “open” wildlife sanctuaries. It is the jewel in the crown of the Hauraki Gulf. The island is home to many species of endangered NZ birds. It offers an incomparable opportunity to see, as well as hear, Saddleback, Stitchbird, Kokako, Kakariki, Takahe, Whitehead, Bell Bird, the Kereru, and North Island Robin as well as the more commonplace Tui, and Piwakawaka(Fantail). When visiting Tiritiri we can arrange for a Department of Conservation guide to escort you around the island. At the end of our visit to Tiritiri Matangi we can then head further north to the Mahurangi Harbour, Moturekareka Island or onto Kawau Island, the home to one of our early Queen’s representatives, Governor Grey.

We could spend several days exploring this corner of the Gulf visiting the Copper Mine or Governor Grey’s mansion on Kawau, picnicking on Motuketekete and Moturekareka Islands to explore the wreck of the Rewa, or voyage up the Matakana River in the inflatable dinghy to the Saturday morning’s farmers market and/or visit the famous Matakana Wine District.

There are many other destinations too numerous to mention in detail; for example: the isolated Noises Islands, Stony Batter, the hippy colony at Colville, or the picturesque Garden Cove on the northern side of Waiheke Island. In general our mornings may start as early or late as you wish with orange juice, a continental breakfast and tea or coffee, and/or gourmet porridge (if you dare). At the end of the day drinks are served in the cockpit as the sun goes down followed later by a beautiful meal cooked in the galley and or over the barbeque and served in the saloon or up in the cockpit. 

At the end of your time out in the gulf we will make our way back to Auckland. If you are traveling onto other parts of the country we can arrange for you to be met in the Coromandel with a hire car, or have you flown from Great Barrier Island, or we can drop you off in the Matakana area in order for you to continue on your holiday further north.

The suggestions above are indicative of how we can cruise throughout the Hauraki Gulf. We are always prepared to tailor the cruise to meet your special interests.


Cruising in this way can last several weeks, but usually guests can circumnavigate the Hauraki Gulf in 10 relaxing days. If you want to keep on the move you can sail right around in 4 perfect days, but it is a lot of sailing with little time to explore. It is better to select one or two of the four regions of the Gulf, for example Waiheke and Ponui islands and the western side of the Coromandel Peninsular. Or the northwestern region of the Gulf including Tiritiri Matangi and Kawau Islands and Great Barrier.

Food and Beverage

While Chad is not a chef he is an “OK” cook while away. Catering is to be sorted out once we know of your preferences. Chad can also introduce you to some of New Zealand’s fine wines

Your skipper

Chad Thompson has spent a lifetime cruising the Hauraki Gulf and northeastern coast of NZ and is one of the founders of the Classic Yacht Association of New Zealand. He is also an RYA Yacht Master Offshore Instructor. With all of that experience he can tell you the stories of the Gulf and more especially take you to interesting destinations in corners of the gulf not often visited by the regular boating public.

“We look forward to entertaining you and your family or friends during your cruise of the Hauraki Gulf.”