Sail Nelson Sailing School, Nelson New Zealand

New Zealand Sailing School, Nelson

Where, Who, Why?

Who we are · Our manifesto

Sunny Nelson

The Sail Nelson sailing school is based in Sunny Nelson

Our home port is Nelson, at the top of New Zealand's South Island. Nelson's unique climate gives it the highest number of sunshine hours in New Zealand. The city itself has a population of around 50,000, which is, in the average Nelsonian's opinion, not too big and not too small. We don't have many traffic jams but we do have a multiplex cinema, several museums and a great art gallery. We have a dozen or so backpacker's lodges, a streetful of bars and nightclubs and only a handful of buildings over two stories high.

For accommodation please check Wakefield Quay B&B or  visit the Nelson visitors centre website or drop by their office at green "i" in the map at right

Nelson Bay Sailing Ground

How to get to Nelson

Nelson is only a 50 minute flight from Christchurch or an 80 minute flight from Auckland. By road, Nelson is en route from Picton (the South Island terminal of the Cook Strait Ferries like Interislander or Bluebridge) to both Abel Tasman National Park and the legendary West Coast, which connects with Queenstown, Fiordland National Park and Christchurch. A variety of buses and coaches service the city daily.

Where you can find our boat in the marina (not our office!)

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Manaia is tied up on at C Berth at C6 on the right at the Nelson Marina which is home to around 500 boats of all shapes and sizes. 

Your sailing grounds

Nelson Sailing Grounds

All courses begin and end in the the Nelson marina. We motor out through the fairway and hoist sail in the wind shadow of whatever fishing boats are in port before cutting the engine and gliding out into Nelson Haven. The Haven lies inside Nelson's unique Boulder Bank. The Boulder Bank, a naturally formed low-lying spit, virtually encloses the Haven - providing very sheltered waters without interrupting the sea breeze that gives the region its ideal sailing conditions. Beyond The Haven, Tasman Bay is a relatively shallow, protected 30 mile wide bay enclosed by some of New Zealand's finest wilderness attractions - the world renowned Abel Tasman National Park to the West, the Marlborough Sounds and remote d'Urville Island to the East and Farewell Spit to the North.

Nelson's seasons & our amazing sea breeze

A typical winter's day in Nelson is gloriously sunny, with a cloudless sky and around 12 degrees C. And there isn't a breath of wind, making sailing a touch difficult. Sail Nelson tends to go pretty quiet in winter, closing in June, July and August and we get on with other stuff, like taking holidays and fiddling with the boats. Daylight saving begins early October, and with spring comes the start of the Wednesday night races. Spring winds are variable, driven largely by the equinoxial fronts that wander in from the Tasman Sea - giving us 30 knot gusts one minute and nothing the next.

Come January though, a remarkable thing happens. That famous Nelson sun develops a bit of heat, and average daytime temperatures climb to around 25 degrees C. The sun quickly warms up the land and the layer of air that has been lying around on top of it overnight. That air then rises, and the relatively colder air over the sea heads ashore to take its place. We experience these moving lumps of air as wind, and this particular effect is called a sea breeze.

Nelson's legendary sunshine and settled microclimate make the sea breeze our predominant wind from January right through until mid May. It starts at 1100 in the morning and blows from the northeast at 12 to 15 knots till around 1900. It is undeniably one of the best sailing breezes in New Zealand.

Go to the Met Service weather forecast to check on today's weather (Nelson is in sea area Abel, south of Separation Point).