Choose your tall ship experience

We have been creating memories since 1985! Our sailings in the Bay of Islands provide the rare opportunity to get involved with a working tall ship. You can join the crew and help set the sails, coil the lines and climb the rigging to the yards, or if you prefer, simply sit back and watch everyone else do the work while enjoying the views from this special tall ship.

We are not-for-profit Charity, the surplus we make from our tourism sailings are used to subsidise places for young people from the region to take part on our 7-day youth development voyages over the winter. You get to have an amazing experience while also supporting a good cause.

  • star rating  Went with a group of school kids on a outing, great crew, nice lunch and kids loved climbing the rigging and jumping off the boat

    Phil R

    star rating  A lovely day shared with Whanau. Sailing on the beautiful R.Tucker Thompson. Recommend as a must do in Russell. Great food, great crew, beautiful scenery and... read more


    star rating  A day out on the R Tucker Tompson was awesome. The crew, lead by Captain Steve made the day fun and informative. Although I wasn't brave enough to go up... read more

  • star rating  Everything was great! We considered ourselves fortunate that there were only 13 passengers (4 crew) on our two hour Sundowner sail since that perhaps made it more intimate. The best... read more


    star rating  Fantastic day out with a fun, friendly and informative crew.
    We had a go helping hoist the sails, climb rigging and even took the helm!
    Very much recommend... read more


    star rating  I went on this cruise as a single person and enjoyed every minute. Interaction was encouraged but I diidn’t feel I had to . The crew were fantastic - really... read more

    Linda W
  • star rating  We left the wharf at Russell at 10.00am on R Tucker Thompson, an 85-foot gaff rigged topsail schooner, in a strong southerly breeze. The crew soon had the sails up... read more


    star rating  We left the wharf at Russell at 10.00am on R Tucker Thompson, an 85-foot gaff rigged topsail schooner, in a strong southerly breeze. The crew soon had the sails up... read more

    Robin P

    star rating  Well organised and very friendly, professional sailing cruise on a two masted classic small sailing vessel. Commentary, historical anecdotes and banter were interesting and good humour. Morning tea/coffee and delicious... read more

  • star rating  Our fourth trip on Tucker and just as special as the very first more than 10 years ago. She is an awesome ship with a super crew. Take your togs,... read more


    star rating  This was one of the best experiences and I would highly recommend it for everyone. The staff were friendly and so welcoming, chatting easily with everyone and sharing their experiences.... read more


    star rating  A marvellous day. In awe of the skilful and friendly crew (Skipper Ben, ably assisted by Jess, Michelle and Abby) who made it a day to remember. Scones and lunch... read more

  • star rating  Great experience. make sure you take the opportunity to help hoist sails and rigging.
    Was a good windy day so we got some good sailing in.
    The crew were awesome... read more


    star rating  Wow... this trip is amazing. We had the best time, the ship was beautiful, Captain Ben and his all female crew were awesome, so friendly and accommodating. The kids (and... read more


    star rating  An exceptional experience and something we would do again we did a road trip from Christchurch to Northland and this was the highlight. Awesome day out, great crew, exceptional food... read more

  • star rating  Unbelievably fabulous day. Welcoming crew, could do as much or as little as you liked to help with the rigging etc.
    We were encouraged to don a harness and provided... read more

    Brent N

    star rating  We took the sunset cruise with appx 25 passengers. The crew were friendly, knowledgeable and organised.
    They served antipasto platters and beverages were available from a cash... read more


    star rating  Our family trip on the R Tucker Thompson was possibly the most fantastic thing we did all year! The crew are wonderful and very knowledgable. We helped to rig the... read more

  • star rating  This was definitely the highlight of our trip!

    The ship was gorgeous and the crew felt like family by the time we disembarked. Knowing that we... read more


    star rating  Absolutely fabulous. Excellent value . Non profit organisation With proceeds used for education of northland children sailing experience team building .
    We experienced great sailing with all sails used climbed... read more


    star rating  This a must do experience on a beautiful ship with a friendly crew! The fruit and cheese platter was divine too. I can't wait to go back and... read more

  • star rating  We did the full day tour. 10am - 3.30pm. This makes for a truly amazing day out and something I would highly recommend to others. We were a group of... read more


    star rating  We had the most amazing day aboard the R Tucker Thompson and were blessed to sail with Russ himself. What a wonderful gent - he has given New Zealand the... read more


    star rating  Had an excellent time, we've done this twice now, once in 2018 and now Dec 2020 and it was a great day, if you have kids they will love being... read more

  • star rating  A truly wonderful way to spend the evening. Fantastic views, climb the rigging and take the wheel. Then nibbles and a glass of wine, perfect loved it.


    star rating  What an awesome experience for us and our son. We had a fantastic day and love that we could support the trust.


    star rating  Amazing day out on the water with a great crew. Good fun climbing the rigging and helping hoist the sails and steer the shop. Really nice lunch and swim at... read more


Our summer sailings start on

13 November 2021

Choose your adventure here

Qualmark is your guarentee of quality, that we do what we promise and your experience will live up to your expectations.

Day Sails

Sailing on the R. Tucker Thompson was the best day of our holiday!

That’s what people say after sailing on board the R.Tucker Thompson, and not without good reason! It’s one of the few opportunities to go sailing on a working tall ship, in one of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of New Zealand, the Bay of Islands.

With the wind behind us, this is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to see the Bay; you can be sure your carbon footprint is minimal. Better still, with profits made from tourism going to support youth development, your day out is going to a good cause. Our day sails operate between the beginning of November and Easter holidays, after which time we revert to our youth development voyages.

Your day sailing includes:

  • Freshly baked scones and cream tea from our galley
  • Chance to take the helm, hoist the sails or climb the rigging
  • Island stopover in sheltered bay (relax, swim, or expore ashore)
  • Delicious BBQ lunch served on board
  • Licensed cash bar on board with local wines and beers
  • Share stories with our friendly crew
  • Free ferry transfers to Russell on any ferry



NZ $159


NZ $79.50

Family Passes also available!
2 adult 1 child $340 save$57.50
2 adult 2 child $400 save $77

Includes morning tea, lunch and ferry transfers. Infants under 5 go free (no meals included)

Sailing Dates

Our 2021 Day Sails resume on Saturday the 13th of November and will continue to Easter 2022

On other days the ship is available for charter or school sailings.

Sailing times


9:30 am

Paihia (via passenger ferry)

10:00 am

Russell Wharf


4:00 pm

Paihia (via passenger ferry)

3:30 pm

Russell Wharf

NB: Times shown are latest departure times, ferry tickets transferable so that earlier and later ferries can be taken if required.

Sundowner Sailings

A perfect way to end the day !

This short Sundowner sail on board the tall ship R.Tucker Thompson is perfect if you don’t have time for a full day in the Bay but still want a unique tall ship experience. Departing from Russell wharf at 4.00pm, the trip is a relaxing sail through the Inner Bay around the area of Paihia, Waitangi and the Black Rocks.

Use your included ferry tickets and head over to Russell earlier in the day to explore this historic village before boarding the ship at 4.00 pm. After the sailing, you can choose to dine at one of the restaurants in Russell before heading home.

Scheduled trips are offered on Friday and Sundays but from Boxing Day until the first weekend in January, these sailings are offered daily. Outside of those dates, you can charter the ship for your evening sailing.

Your day sailing includes:

  • Free ferry transfers to Russell on any ferry
  • Shared antipasto platter
  • Licensed cash bar on board with local wines and beers
  • Chance to take the helm, help hoist the sails or ride the bowsprit
  • Plenty of room to relax



NZ $67.50


NZ $33.75

Includes your return ferry transfer from Paihia if required and shared antipasto platter; infants under 5 go free (no food included).

Sailing Dates

Scheduled Sundowner sailings are on Fridays, Sundays and Wednesdays.

Our 2021 Sundowner Sailings will resume on Sunday 14th of November and will continue to Easter 2022.  Private charters are available on other evenings.


Sailing times


3:30 pm

Paihia (via Bay Belle)

4:00 pm

Russell Wharf


6:00 pm

Paihia (via Bay Belle)

5:45 pm

Russell Wharf

NB: Times shown are latest departure times, ferry tickets transferable so that earlier and later ferries can be taken if required.

Discovery Voyages

Discover the Bay, discover yourself!

The Bay of Islands is not only a place of stunning scenery, but rich in stories. It is a place of first arrivals from Polynesia and significant Māori settlement, home to early encounters with European explorers. A place of trade and industry, colonisation and subsequent wars. This turbulent past is barely visible today. Nowadays, the focus is on recovery and restoration, with landscapes being restored and native birds returned to the islands. What better way to discover this beautiful region than on board Taitokerau Northland’s own tall ship, the R. Tucker Thompson.

Experience the Bay of Islands

Normally the preserve of teenagers, now is your chance to come sailing on this beautiful tall ship and experience the Bay of Islands. For three days and two nights, you’ll get to explore the amazing history and stunning scenery of this beautiful part of Aotearoa New Zealand.

A trip that has something to offer an 85 year old and a 10 year old is something very special indeed. We now have a deeper understanding of Maori culture, the Northland, the sea and the importance of coming together as one.

It was a wonderful trip

Katherine N

Scheduled voyages are available on these dates

21-23 January 2022

Places Available

18-20 February 2022

Places Available

18-20 March 2022

Places Available


Express your interest

Each place costs $1,250 per person for the 3-day voyage which includes all meals, bunk style accommodation and shared facilities or hire the ship for $11,150. We can take a maximum of 10 people only (minimum of 7 required), so bring your friends and have an adventure you will remember for ever! These sailings are limited in availability so contact us now to secure your place.

How fit do I need to be?

You don’t need to be super fit to enjoy yourself but a reasonable degree of mobility is required to get below decks and in and out of the tender. The walks on the islands would be classified as low to medium grade difficulty, generally no more than a couple of hours. Our goal is to make the ship accessible, and we have taken people with minimal vision, limited hearing and physical disabilities before. Ask us if you have any concerns.

What is the accomodation like?

This is not a cruise, it’s a tall ship experience. You’ll be sleeping in bunk beds in a shared space, which are more comfortable than hammocks but definitely more on the glamping scale. If you’ve slept in a marae, you’ll know what that’s like! We do recommend that you bring ear plugs in case other passengers snore.

What about showering?

We have a fully enclosed Head (toilet) complete with a hot water shower, however this is a shared facility so treat the experience as if you were camping. You won’t be showering each morning although we have a fresh water shower on deck for you to rinse off and warm up.

What will we be doing on the voyage?

Your Discovery Voyage will be based on our successful Youth Development Voyage format although morning swims will be subject to agreement from the group. We’ll be keeping the sailing, navigation, history and environmental modules from our programme which will form the basis of your voyage.

What about special dietary requirements?

Meals are simple as they are being prepared in the galley and of course as one of the team, you’ll be helping too. We can cope with vegetarian meals and can work around gluten free, but if you have special dietary requirements, we do recommend you bring your own items e.g. bread and cereals.

What if the weather is terrible?

Our primary concern is your enjoyment. If the forecast looks like it will be pouring rain for all three days, we will cancel. If however there are showers forecast and some good winds, then that is great sailing weather. It’s a judgement call we are used to making, we will discuss it with you but be assured we will want to make sure your experience is the best.


Our scheduled sailings run from 13 November through to April from Fridays to Mondays. The ship is available for charter groups, schools and other sailings mid-week. Create your own adventure and hire the ship for memories that will last forever.
13 November through to April from Fridays to Mondays

Cancellations and Refunds

Bookings may be changed for another day up to 24 hours prior to sailing. Cancellations for bookings less than 8 people will be accepted up to 48 hours prior to sailing without penalty. Cancellations for larger groups and whole ship charters will be only accepted 21 working days prior to sailing. If the above conditions are not met, the R.Tucker Thompson reserves the right to charge up to 50% cancellation fee.

If for any reason the ship does not sail on the day (due to bad weather or any other reason) then the next alternative day will be offered. If for some reason the alternative day does not suit, all payments will be refunded in full.



The ship has Health & Safety plans in place to accommodate operation at Alert Levels 1 and 2. Under Alert Levels 3 and 4 we will cancel sailings. Any bookings will be fully refunded if you are impacted by COVID19 alert levels, including your travel plans being cancelled.

Contact Us

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