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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.

Crew Criteria

  • 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.

    Apply / enquire

  • 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.

    Apply / enquire

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.

  • Master

    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.

  • First Mate

    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.

  • Second Mate

    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.

  • Third Mate

    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.

  • Cook/Chef

    Responsible for all catering, including creation of meal plans. The role also involves some assistance in sailing the vessel and delivering the voyage programme.

  • Engineer

    The Engineer is responsible to the Master for maintenance of the ship's engine, plant and equipment.

  • Cadet

    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


  1. 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!
  2. Can I bring my fishing gear or dive equipment on board?

    Fishing gear and dive equipment is not permitted on board.

  3. 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.
  4. How many people does the ship sleep?

    The ship typically has the capacity to house 40 participants and 12 crew overnight.
  5. Is food included?

    Yes food is included - We have a full time cook on board producing exceptional meals to keep your tummy full!
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