Holiday Programmes

The Holiday Programmes at Nelson Yacht Club have become a ‘must-do’ for local kids, and we even see families coming from places further afield like Christchurch and Auckland to take part.

Sailing adventures with Nelson Yacht Club
The ‘Oyster Island Adventure’ crew 2019

During the October, Summer and April school holidays we run numerous courses for different ages and ability levels. They are normally run over 5 days, but occasionally shorter courses are scheduled.

We generally try to fit in an adventure of some sort, such as picnic lunches on Haulashore Island, climbing the iconic Nelson Lighthouse, scavenger hunts on the Boulder Bank, sailing to Tahunanui beach or up to the Maitai river. The end of the week shared lunch is always a mean feed!

Please get in touch with any questions. Call us on 022 548 7501 or email

Sailing courses from Nelson Yacht Club
Heading towards Tahunanui Back Beach

2021-22 Dates:

For advice on which group you should be registering your young sailor into, please scroll down to “Which Group?” below.

Availability as at 24th Sept:

October Week 1:

  • Optimist Beginners – 3-days (Mon-Weds) – 4th-6th October – FULL
  • Optimist Improvers – 2-days (Thurs-Fri) – 7th & 8th October – 6 spaces
  • Optimist Improvers – 3-days (Mon-Weds) – 4th-6th October – 3 spaces
  • Optimist Intermediates – 2-days (Thurs-Fri) – 7th & 8th October – 4 spaces
  • Optimist Intermediates – 5-days (Mon-Fri) – 4th-8th October – 4 spaces
  • Topaz Beginners – 5-days (Mon-Fri) – 4th-8th October – 4 spaces
  • Topaz Intermediates – 5-days (Mon-Fri) – 4th-8th October – 5 spaces
  • RS Fevas – 5 days (Mon-Fri) – 4th-8th October – 4 spaces

October Week 2:

  • Optimist Beginners – 3-days (Mon-Weds) – 11th-13th October – 5 spaces
  • Optimist Improvers – 2-days (Thurs-Fri) – 14th & 15th October – 5 spaces
  • Optimist Improvers – 3-days (Mon-Weds) –11th-13th October – 5 spaces
  • Optimist Intermediates – 2-days (Thurs-Fri) – 14th & 15th October – 6 spaces
  • Optimist Intermediates – 5-days (Mon-Fri) – 11th-15th October – 4 spaces
  • Topaz Beginners – 5-days (Mon-Fri) – 11th-15th October – 5 spaces
  • Topaz Intermediates – 5-days (Mon-Fri) – 11th-15th October – 2 spaces
  • RS Fevas – Some drop in days may be available – please contact us.

Please note that groups and levels are subject to change at any time in order to meet demand and to ensure viable groups.

Summer Holiday weeks (groups to be confirmed):

  • Week 1: 13th – 17th December
  • Week 2: 20th – 23rd December (4 days)
  • Week 3: 5th – 7th January (3 days)
  • Week 4: 10th – 14th January
  • Week 5: 17th – 21st January
  • Week 6: 24th – 28th January
Learn to Sail courses for young children

Course Details:

  • 9am – 4pm each day.
  • 5-day course – $340 ($285 for members)
  • 4-day course* – $300 ($250 for members)
  • 3-day course* – $250 ($210 for members)
  • 2-day course* – $180 ($150 for members)
  • Drop-In Day – $100 ($80 for members)

*on a scheduled course of this length. If you want to join a few days of a longer course, then the Drop-In Day rate will apply.

Windsurfers getting the basics sorted on land!

Which Group!?

We try to organise our groups by age and ability level*

Age generally determines the type of boat/equipment that your young sailor will be using:

  • Optimists: 8-11yrs
  • Topaz: >11yrs
  • Fevas: >11yrs and >intermediate level
  • Windsurfing: >10yrs

We then split groups up by ability level:

  • Beginners: Students will be introduced to the marine environment safely and learn how to stay safe on, in and around the water. They’ll have heaps of fun learning the essential skills for sailing a small sailing boat like the Optimist, plus capsizing, swimming, loads of games and races.
  • Improvers: This group is for kids who have done some sailing, but who have not yet completed the YNZ Level 1 Certificate. Often the smaller/younger kids, and the group focuses on fun and building confidence as well as working towards the Level 1.
  • Intermediates: Designed for kids who have already done quite a bit of sailing and are looking to extend their skills and maybe try different boats etc… We’ll be working on skills that are part of the YNZ “Sailing….Fast” or Level 2 syllabus. It can take a bit longer to achieve the Level 2 certificate, so you might be in this group for a few courses before reaching the level and moving on to Advanced/Green Fleet training.
  • Advanced/Green Fleet: Learning to race! Sailing in either a club Optimist or your own boat, these groups of sailors can handle themselves around a course and in moderate conditions, and are now looking at how to start and compete in races.
  • Fleet Training: Sailors with their own boats, training and honing their racing skills.

*NB. These guidelines are not set in stone, and there will be occasions where we may amalgamate groups to ensure viability, or where younger experienced sailors may be able to join a Topaz/Feva group.

Learn to Sail for teenagers

The Topaz boats can be feisty in a breeze and tend to suit the older kids!


If you already have a club login, you will not be able to use these forms. Instead, you must log in to your profile and complete registrations within Friendly Manager.

Either way, you will register your son/daughter into a “General Registration” group for the relevant week and type of boat. Please note down in the comments field/relevant box which course/group you would prefer them to be placed in. We will move them to the most suitable available group and you will be sent an invoice. If we don’t have availability in the group you request we’ll contact you.