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Child's play: 'Biggest' Pacific Rally a family affair

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The 2023 Pacific Rally isn’t only the biggest in the event’s 40-year history – it is also arguably more of a family affair than ever before.

Rally director and Island Cruising New Zealand owner Viki Moore said this year’s fleet is made up of 72 boats, with 35 of those on board children.

“It is our biggest ever fleet,” she said.

“Most departed New Zealand early in May with some heading for Tonga as their first stop while others sailed directly for Fiji. They'll explore the islands with some also heading to Vanuatu and New Caledonia before sailing home to New Zealand at the end of October.”


A few of the Kiwi children and some of the local wildlife on the beach at Pangaimotu Island, Tonga. Photo/Viki Moore

The rally has been running since the mid-1980s with the aim to help sailors realise their cruising dreams.

“It is a great way to explore the Pacific and the rally includes assistance and advice to help people prepare their vessels, their crew and themselves for an offshore voyage,” Moore said.

“The rally sponsors also provide some excellent discounts and advice along the way - there is help with finding crew, support with weather routing along the way and, importantly, connecting with everyone who is sailing in a similar direction.”

Moore, who has been on the board of Yachting New Zealand since 2017, took over the business in 2021 after several years of Covid-19 disruptions.

Last year’s rally saw 40 boats spending nearly six months spread around the Pacific.

"The rally is a wonderful way for families to experience the Pacific. They've got the flexibility to do their own thing, an instant connection with other families heading in their direction, and all the backup and support of Island Cruising should they have any problems along the way."

The friendships made on a rally often last a lifetime, and the support the boats give one another along the way cannot be underestimated, Moore added.

“There is a WhatsApp group for the whole rally and another group for the families to enable them to ask questions, share ideas and connect with each other.”

Many kids did the passage with their parents, while others flew in once the boat had arrived in the islands.

While people are free to choose their own dates and destinations, the boats with children often congregate together.

"They share ideas about home-schooling on board and then arrange fun activities with the children during the rest of the day," Moore said.

“Many of the New Zealand children are doing homeschooling via Te Kura - the New Zealand Correspondence School. There are also a number of international boats from Australia, Canada and the USA and they have similar programmes that they can access.” 


Cricket on the beach. Photo / Viki Moore

Visiting the various islands and visiting the schools is a highlight for many children who can connect with local children.

“They often team up for games and fun along the way, and it is a fantastic way to learn more about each other's culture and way of life in the islands.”

For more information on preparing for and joining next year’s rally, click here.