Join Our Crew
We welcome your interest in becoming a member of our crew on board our tall ship, Spirit of New Zealand. We have a variety of roles on the ship for both full time and volunteer staff.
The Trust sails approximately 24 × 10 Day Development Voyages a year. Between those voyages, there are shorter voyages including 5 Day, 3 Day and half-day sails. We employ a permanent crew, consisting of a master, mates, engineer and cook on every voyage, and in addition to these permanent crew positions, there are six volunteers per voyage, filling the positions of Watch Assistants and Leading Hands. We also run a cadetship programme for school-leavers looking to a professional career at sea.
A number of roles can be filled by both full-time and volunteers, with qualified volunteers often covering for full-time staff when on leave – providing an opportunity for a person to sail while being considered for a full-time role.
A strong volunteer workforce is essential to the running of the ship. Leading Hands are drawn from previous trainees. For Watch Assistants. previous experience is preferred but not essential - we welcome those with a positive outlook, who enjoy working with young people and bring lots of energy and enthusiasm.
- Leading Hands (aged 17-20 years)
- all other positions over 20 years of age
- enjoy working with young people
- preferably have some experience with water-based activities, outdoor education, teaching or coaching roles
- have a positive attitude, a friendly manner and heaps of enthusiasm
- be physically fit (please refer to Medical and Fitness Standards policy here)
- Physical Requirements (PDF)
Roles on board Spirit of New Zealand
Watch Assistant (ages 20 years and up)
We are always looking for strong candidates for the Watch Assistant role. Watch Assistants are valued for their contribution to a voyage as motivators, wholly involved at all levels. They work alongside the mates, ensuring the programme is running smoothly and that all trainees are fully engaged and having a good time.
Leading Hand (ages 17-20 years)
Leading Hands must have completed our 10 Day voyage before becoming crew. They bring their voyage experiences aboard and assist the crew with the day-to-day running of the ship’s routines, programme and maintenance. Leading Hands help trainees to familarise themselves with the vessel and possibly new experience for some of working in teams.
Other roles on board
Join our relief crew
Full-time positions on board Spirit of New Zealand do come up from time to time, and we are always looking for qualified crew to join our relief crew network. If you have the right credentials (maritime and other relevant qualifications) and are interested in being part of the team, we would love to hear from you.
On the Spirit of New Zealand the Master has absolute responsibility for the operational safety of the ship and all personnel and the necessary authority to make decisions to ensure that responsibility is discharged. The First, Second and Third Mates work alongside the Master to ensure the programme runs smoothly.
The programme director and second-in-command of the ship. He or she is charged with the organisation of the crew, especially the cadet training programme. The First Mate ensures the programme is successfully carried out and also has overall responsibility for the ship's maintenance, the deck rig and operation of the small boats.
The navigator and third-in-command of the ship. He or she is responsible for the safe navigation of the vessel under the Master’s direction. The Second Mate maintains the navigation systems and charts, assists the First Mate with the programme and looks after the medical supplies on board.
Responsible for ship's maintenance and training of the Leading Hands. The Third Mate works with the Master and Second Mate in delivering the development programme.
Responsible for all catering, including creation of meal plans. The role also involves some assistance in sailing the vessel and delivering the voyage programme.
The Engineer is responsible to the Master for maintenance of the ship's engine, plant and equipment.
Cadets are selected to undertake a structured learning programme, learning from crew and gaining sea time towards maritime qualifications. Directly supervised by the Masters, they assist the Mates with maintenance, navigation, and the youth programme as required.
Get in touch
Do I need to know how to sail to come on board?No sailing experience is required. Sailing is just one part of the voyage. Each sailing has a team of experianced sailors. Be prepared to help!
Can I bring my fishing gear or dive equipment on board?
Fishing gear and dive equipment is not permitted on board.
Do I have to live in Auckland to get on an Auckland sailing?No we have people from all over New Zealand join the ship. You just have to get to where ever we are in port.
How many people does the ship sleep?The ship typically has the capacity to house 40 participants and 12 crew overnight.
Is food included?Yes food is included - We have a full time cook on board producing exceptional meals to keep your tummy full!
Where does the ship go?
Every voyage is different and it will often depend on weather. We have a live ship tracker on the home page of our website, so make sure you tell your friends and family to keep an eye on where you are!
Are there unisex voyages?
Most of our voyages are unisex. All activities are done as a team, but we do have separate living areas and bathrooms for male and female paticipants (20 on each side of the ship). More info ->
What does medically fit mean?
The ship operates around the New Zealand coast throughout the year and may sometimes be away from immediate medical support (the ship's crew are fully trained in marine first aid). The voyages can at times be mentally and physically demanding with acitivities including sailing, swimming and hiking. We have specific 'Medically Fit' criteria for each voyage type which you will find when you start your booking. If you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch with us to discuss.
Where does the ship leave from?
Our home port is Princes Wharf in down town Auckland, but we do at times travel around the country. Check out the schedule for specific dates and location of ports.
I have a medical condition, can I join the ship?
We have certain medical criteria that you will need to meet if you would like to take part in a voyage. Check out the medical criteria in the type of voyage you'd like to participate in, and if you have any more questions, please give us a call in the office. More info ->
I would like to volunteer, how do I apply?
We love meeting new people to volunteer as crew with us. Check out the 'join our crew' section on the website. You will find an application form to complete along with an explanation of the process. More info ->
I'm a past 10 Day voyage Trainee, can I come back and do another voyage?
Of course you can come back! But it will need to be as a crew member. If you're aged between 17-20yrs, you can apply to be a Leading Hand
I was a Participant years ago and have always wanted to come back on board. How do I get on board?
We'd love to stay in touch with all of our past Participants. You're welcome to sign up to be part of our volunteer crew, either for day sails or as a Watch Assistant on our longer voyagers. Check out our Join Our Crew page to find out more about it.
Do we sail the whole time?
We typically sail during the day and anchor up later in the afternoon. Although on some voyages that are going from one port to another, there may be the odd night sail.