Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour will take a step back in time tomorrow, Monday 1 February, as the City of Sails celebrates its 181st birthday with the annual Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta. While the futuristic foiling yachts of the America’s Cup take a break from racing, spectators will instead enjoy the sight of one of the largest fleets of classic boats still in service anywhere in the world.

Many of the lovingly restored vintage yachts and launches taking part in racing tomorrow were first launched over 100 years ago, with the oldest being the spectacular gaff-rigged cutter Waitangi, built in 1894. Another gaff rigged cutter of the same era, Ida, is back in action after an extensive restoration completed last year, which returned her to her original flush-deck, gaff-rigged configuration that she was built with in 1895.

This year marks the 181st edition of the regatta, which was first held in 1840 on the day the city was founded – 11 years before the very first America’s Cup competition in 1851.

The Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta attracts a huge fleet of vessels including tall ships, gaff riggers, sloops, racing keelers, multihulls, sailing dinghies, radio controlled yachts, waka ama, dragonboats and an armada of vintage and modern tugboats.

It’s a great day out for seafarers and thousands of spectators who can see the maritime history of the city in action under sail, steam and paddle power.

Skippers compete for cash and spot prizes, as well as with the chance to go down in nautical history, with winners’ names permanently engraved on the regatta’s historic trophy collection. The collection consists of some 59 trophies, many of which are solid silver, and at least 14 of which were created prior to 1900. The collection, which is valued at nearly $100,000, is on permanent display at the Maritime Museum. 

Schedule of Events


10:00 Tugboat Race Start off Westhaven

11:00 Classic Launch Start off Westhaven

11:05 Tugboat Display off Westhaven


09:00 Keelboat Race Start Mahurangi and Kawau

10:00 Keelboat Race Start Rakino

12:00 A-Class Gaffers Start off Westhaven

12:05 Keelboat Races Start off Westhaven at five minute intervals

12:15 – 17:00 Race fleets expected to finish off Westhaven


10:00 Murray’s Bay & Torbay – Auckland Championships (Opti, 29er, 420 classes)

10:30 Manly Sailing Club (O’pen Skiff; RS Feva classes)

11:00 Narrow Neck Beach (Sea Scouts, Navy Crowns, Sunbursts)

12:00 Takapuna Boating CLub (Windfoiler; Kitefoiler; Nacra 15/17; Waszp; Moths; A Class)

12:30 Tamaki Yacht Club (Laser, Mistral; Finn; Farr 3.7, 470)


12:35 Waka Ama Race Start Westhaven

12:40 Waka Hourua Race Start Westhaven


10:00 Radio Controlled Yachting 
Westhaven Marina & St Mary’s Bay


09:30 Dragonboat Racing Viaduct Harbour

Best Vantage Points

For many Aucklanders watching the Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta from a sunny picnic spot, is a precious childhood memory. Some of the best spots are: 

  • Westhaven / RNZYS
  • Princes Wharf & Queens Wharf
  • Viaduct Harbour
  • Bastion Point
  • North Head
  • East Coast Bays

Royal New Zealand Navy

The Royal New Zealand Navy have been part of the Regatta since the very first event in 1840. And on Monday, 181 years later, the HMNZS MANAWANUI will be on the harbour representing the Navy and once again, supporting the event.

The Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta takes place from 9:30am to 5:00pm on Monday 1 February, 2021.