New Zealand weather resources and voyaging guides

Jan/Feb 2003

There are many resources available to the voyager planning a passage to, from and around New Zealand. Much of this information is available on the New Zealand MetService website at

Weatherfax: The NZ MetService broadcasts weatherfaxes over five single-sideband radio frequencies: 3247.4, 5807, 9459, 13550.5, and 16340.1 kHz. The Tasman-New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific mean sea-level analysis charts are updated every six hours. The Southwest Pacific prognosis charts looking ahead 30, 48 and 72 hours are updated twice a day. The transmission schedule is broadcast between 11:00 and 11:45, sequentially at 15-minute intervals on the above frequencies. The schedule and faxes are also available on the MetService website. Satellite images are on the website as well.

Voice broadcasts: The High Seas Forecast is a human-voice broadcast that is updated twice a day and transmitted as follows: at 0903 and 2103 UTC on 6224 and 12356, and half an hour later at 0933 and 2133 UTC on 8297 and 16531. In addition, warnings are issued at 0303 and 0333 UTC and at 1503 and 1533 UTC on the above frequencies. The forecasts are divided into three areas:

A. The Pacific, from 170 degrees west to 120 degrees west between 25 degrees south and 55 degrees south.

B. The Subtropics, from 150 degrees east to 170 degrees west between 25 degrees south and 40 degrees south.

C. The Forties, from 150 degrees east to 170 degrees west between 40 degrees south and 55 degrees south.

New Zealand coastal-area forecasts are broadcast on VHF and on 2207, 4146 and 6224 at 0533, 1333 and 1733 NZ Standard Time and on VHF only at 0733 and 2133 NZST. The country is divided into 17 marine areas and each is covered in the forecast.

In addition, local forecasts are broadcast in some areas on VHF radio. In Auckland, continuous weather information is transmitted on VHF channel 21.

Weathergram: NZ MetService Weather Ambassador Bob McDavitt writes an informal weekly weathergram, specifically for voyagers, defining the major features driving weather in the Southwest Pacific. It is distributed via email. Subscribe on the Web through Yotreps at, or directly from McDavitt at

Custom forecast: When available, Bob McDavitt will produce a custom five-day weather forecast for voyagers preparing for an ocean passage. It can be faxed or emailed the day before departure for a nominal fee. Contact him at

Publications: The following is a sampling of the books and chart guides available to assist with planning a circumnavigation of the North Island. All are available through

Mariner�s Met Pack — Southwest Pacific by Bob McDavitt. The mariner�s guide to South Pacific weather covers in practical layman�s terms: weather theory; how to interpret weather maps; weatherfaxes, including radio frequencies and times; tropical cyclones; and La Ni�a and El Ni�o weather patterns.

Sailing Directions: East Coast of Australia and New Zealand SD 127 published by NIMA (National Imagery and Mapping Agency). Detailed information about the coastline of the entire country, including channel descriptions, anchorages, bridge and cable clearances, currents, tide and water levels, prominent features, pilotage, towage, weather, ice conditions, wharf descriptions, dangers, routes, traffic separation schemes, and information applicable to navigation.

New Zealand Pilot published by the Hydrographer of the Royal New Zealand Navy. The same content as the NIMA Sailing Directions in a slightly different format with more detail, particularly for small vessels. Navigational information about the entire country.

Coastal Cruising Handbook by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club. A guide to the whole northeastern coast of the North Island, from Cape Kidnappers at the southern end of Hawke�s Bay right up to North Cape at the top of the island. The ninth edition contains color photographs, detailed notes for all anchorages, sketch charts and updated information for all marinas.

New Zealand Cruising Guide — Central Area by Murray & Von Kohorn. A guide to the Cook Strait region, including Wellington Harbour, Palliser Bay, Marlborough Sounds, Tasman Bay and Golden Bay to Farewell Spit. Sketch charts show all the anchorages, ports and marinas in the area with extensive cruising notes.

The Northland Coast Boaties Atlas and The Hauraki Gulf Boaties Atlas by David Thatcher. The Northland guide covers the area from Bream Bay to Cape Reinga with a large Bay of Islands section. The Hauraki Gulf guide spans the area from Kawau Island to the Coromandel Peninsula, all the islands within the Gulf, as well as the Mercury Islands, Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands. Full-color photographs and reproduced hydrographic charts are used to illustrate anchorage recommendations, navigational aids and hazards. Also included is up-to-date information for VHF radio, weather forecasts and emergencies.

Royal New Zealand Navy Chart Folios — Leisure Craft Series, produced by the RNZ Navy in association with Auckland Coastguard. There are three folios: Auckland to Waiheke and Coromandel — 18 charts and plans; Auckland to Kawau Island — 11 charts and plans; and The Bay of Islands — 16 charts and plans.

Based on information pooled from sounding surveys by the RNZ Hydrographic section, local knowledge from Auckland Coastguard members, and safety and nautical information from the Maritime Safety Authority. The charts use sounding data available only to the Navy to provide large-scale detail with more extensive soundings than are available on the official New Zealand charts. Additional information on buoys and small craft chart symbols are included.  

By Ocean Navigator