Kawau Boating Club Reopens

Islanders and sailors band together to save the Kawau Island Yacht Club.

What More Could a Hungry Sailor Want?

Famous for its beautiful location and secure anchorage, warm welcome and mammoth Kawau burgers, the Kawau Island Yacht Club was built in 1951 by the people of the island on land donated by a local boatbuilding family. It once boasted the largest membership of any yacht club in the southern hemisphere. Due to changing times, the buildings and land were taken over by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and it became, in effect, a Squadron outstation. A dwindling island population meant ever lower winter usage, and financial setbacks for the Squadron added to the stress of keeping the club open. In April 2014 it was officially closed and the land and buildings offered for sale.

A core group of five island residents and three very interested sailors from the mainland became determined to ensure that the land and buildings continued to be the center of island life and a fun refuge for sailors who cruise and fish in the beautiful, island-studded Hauraki Gulf, which stretches from Auckland out to Great Barrier Island. Long and sometimes difficult negotiations with the Squadron and other parties paved the way for what has now become the Kawau Boating Club.

A completely autonomous club, open to all but with special discount prices and benefits for those who become members, it reopened the café and bar Dec. 6, 2014, under the direction of professional café managers. Diesel and gas, fresh water, hot showers plus a book lending library are now available. Because the club has been designated as the official community hall for Kawau islanders, overseas cruising sailors are sure to meet local folks if they stop in for a visit.


And the famous Kawau Burger is once again available. With or without the optional fried egg, it’s a tasty mouthful.

This article first appeared as “What More Could a Hungry Sailor Want?” in the Underway section of Cruising World‘s March 2015 issue. If it makes you hungry, click here for galley-friendly recipes!

Kawau Boating Club
On opening day of the new Kawau Boating Club, the famous S&S-designed, Kiwi-built Sapphire sailed in for the festivities. Ivor Wilkens
Kawau Burger
The burgers are awesome too. Lin Pardey