Haere mai! Whangarei becomes Northland's newest cruise destination

February 4, 2024

It was a hugely significant moment for Northland tourism today, with the arrival at Northport of the first scheduled cruise ship to call at Whangārei Harbour - Oceania Cruises' 'Regatta'.

Regatta was welcomed to Whangārei-te-rerenga-parāoa (Whangārei harbour) with a pōwhiri conducted by hapū Patuharakeke as about 580 passengers disembarked. The visitors were taken by coach from Northport to their chosen activities or attractions, or into Whangārei where they visited local attractions and the Sunday markets.

Today's arrival was the culmination of years of effort by many. Northport has worked with Northland’s regional tourism organisation Northland Inc, the Northland Chamber of Commerce, Whangārei District Council, cruise lines, the New Zealand Cruise Association and other stakeholders since 2018 to bring cruise ships to the city.

In particular, we acknowledge today the sterling efforts of the late Jeroen Jongejans, perhaps the single most vocal and effective advocate for bringing the cruise industry to Whangarei. It is truly a tragedy that he was not here with us, he would have been so pleased.

Several cruise ships had been booked to call at Northport in the summer of 2021/2022 for what might be termed ‘exploratory’ visits to the Whangārei region but the onset of the global COVID pandemic saw these visits cancelled.

There are currently 11 cruise ships scheduled to berth at Northport over the next three cruise seasons. Northport chief executive Jon Moore says being able to start small, and build to manageable levels in years to come, is a great option for Whangārei.

“There are several different organisations working together to make this happen for the benefit of our district, " Mr Moore said. "If, collectively, we get things right for 2024 it will help Whangārei carve out a place for itself on some cruise itineraries.”

“From Northport’s perspective, this first season is about finding our feet and getting great systems and processes in place.”

Cruise lines currently offering Whangārei on their itineraries include Azamara Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSS Cruises), Silversea and Viking Cruises.