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Auckland: boating to the Riverhead Pub

Whether you’ve got your own boat and want to brave the tides, or you take a ferry from downtown Auckland, and cruise the upper Waitemata harbour, past the Chelsea Sugar Factory, Kauri Point, Hobsonville Airbase, Herald Island, the Poremoremo inlet and Huapai Golf Couse to the Riverhead Pub it’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Auckland harbour bridge

Tootling past Westhaven Marina and under the Harbour Bridge

If you don’t have your own boat, book a ferry with The Red Boats or the Riverhead Ferry which depart from downtown Auckland.

Chelsea sugar works

It was a bit lumpy out here so my pic is not that clear!

Meanwhile, I travelled in convoy from the Outboard Boating Club in Orakei on their family day out with my cousin and her family, and 166 more of us. Although some took their cars, which in hindsight was a great idea as the wind and swells really got up!


Cruising past the Hobsonville Airbase around Herald Island

After about an hour and 3/4 we see the Riverhead jetty where we waited our turn to stop and clamber out while our skipper went off and anchored in the muddy water and waited for the tender to pick him up

Riverhead jetty

The Red Boat is docked out front

Riverhead jetty signRiverhead boats moored

Riverhead smokey bbq

It’s BBQ time! On sunny Sunday’s the Riverhead can do 2000 covers.

Riverhead bbq guy

It’s non stop sizzling – except for a quick photo

Live music starts at 2pm on Sundays at the Riverhead Pub which is one of the coolest places to spend an afternoon. In 2010 new owners Stephen and Paula bought the pub which was in receivership and frequented by a rather shady clientele. They had been sailing the world for 9 years in a boat they had built themselves before becoming landlubbers. It’s been such a successful venture, they haven’t had time to look back!

Riverhead entrance

If you come by car (or hog) this is the pub entrance

Riverhead pub

There are several bars, nooks of restaurants, outdoor seating – it’s huge!

The Riverhead is the 2nd pub in New Zealand to have applied for a liquor license and Stephen and Paula have done a ton of research and printed out century-old newspaper articles mentioning the pub and its sometimes dodgy past!

Riverhead pub martini

Andy whips up a chocolate martini with a flirty smile

Quirky decor and historic documents as art adorn the walls providing an insight into this pub’s skulduggerous history

Riverhead pub

This boar watches over one of the dining rooms


Gardens sprawl all the way down the water – and kids are discouraged from playing in them!

We set off just on high tide where the upper harbour was nice and calm. It was a different story heading into the wider harbour with an extreme wind warning in force, swells and gusts of up to 40 knots!

Riverhead Red Boat

Home time

Next time we have visitors from out of town, we’ll be bringing them here for sure.

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!