6 min read

How to prepare your boat for storage in winter

As boating season comes to an end, it’s important to take the right steps to prepare your boat for storage.
How to prepare your boat for storage in winter

Autumn is the perfect time to prepare your boat for winter. As boating season comes to an end, and cold weather approaches, it’s important to take the right steps to prepare your boat for storage. Proper winterisation helps preserve the integrity of your boat and will improve the chances of everything working when you hit the water in spring.

Do you have to winterise your boat in New Zealand?

Depending on where you live, you don’t have to winterise your boat in New Zealand. If you’re in the upper North Island, you might get a lot of good use out of your boat in the winter. However, for those of us further south, it’s a good idea to take steps to protect your boat over winter.

If you live in a climate where temperatures get down to freezing or as low as 4 degrees, it’s a good idea to prep your boat and place it in storage (or at least keep it properly protected over winter), especially if you’re not going to use it.

Disuse, even for a few months, can lead to big and small problems with your boat, especially if you haven’t stored it properly.

Moving during winter?

  • Check out these tips to keep your furniture and possessions safe and dry.

Where should you store your boat over winter?

Since New Zealand doesn’t get heavy snow or stormy conditions in most places over winter, there are more options for storing your boat in winter than many places overseas.

On your property

Storing your boat at home is a great option for many boat owners. If you have enough space, you can keep your boat covered on a trailer, in a carport, or under a purpose-built boat shelter. This option is the most convenient and gives you easy access for any maintenance or preparations you need to do during the winter.

Boat storage yards

Dry storage facilities, or boatyards, are specifically designed for long-term boat storage. These facilities offer secure, fenced areas for storing your boat on land. Dry storage protects your boat from the water, eliminates the need for antifouling, and reduces the risk of damage from storms or floating debris. This is a good option for people who want to pay for security and don’t have space on their property to keep their boats indoors.


If you have access to an indoor space such as a garage or a dedicated boat storage building, it can provide the ultimate protection for your boat. Indoor storage shields your boat from the elements, extreme temperatures, and UV rays. This is cheaper than paying for indoor storage and a good option if you live somewhere with freezing temperatures and snow.


Many marinas offer winter storage options for boat owners. Marina storage provides convenience, as your boat remains in the water, ready for use in the upcoming boating season. Some marinas offer dry-stack storage, where boats are stored on racks and lifted in and out of the water as needed. Ensure that the marina has proper security measures in place and offers protection against winter storms and low temperatures if you live in a colder climate.

Covered storage

If you don't have access to indoor storage but want added protection for your boat, covered storage options can be a good compromise. Some storage facilities offer covered sheds or canopies that shield your boat from direct sunlight, rain, and snow. This option provides some level of protection while keeping your boat easily accessible for maintenance and preparations.

Here’s how to prep your boat for the winter

Step 1: Clean and Inspect

Before you start the winterisation process, give your boat a thorough cleaning. Remove any dirt, grime, or salt buildup from the inside and outside of your boat. Pay close attention to the hull, deck, and all equipment on board, as its easy to forget these areas. This will also help prevent rust or corrosion and keeps your boat in shape for the next season. Make sure you inspect the boat for any damages, cracks, or leaks and repair them before you put your boat into storage.

Step 2: Engine and Fuel System

Preparing the engine and fuel system is a really important step and will ensure that your boat runs without any trouble next season:

  • Change the oil and oil filter.

  • Add a fuel stabiliser to the gas tank and run the engine for a few minutes to distribute it throughout the system.

  • Flush the engine with fresh water to remove any salt or debris.

  • Fog the engine by spraying fogging oil into the carburettor or spark plug holes.

  • Disconnect the fuel line and run the engine until it stops to empty the carburettor.

Step 3: Freshwater Systems

To protect your boat's freshwater systems during winter:

  • Drain all freshwater tanks, including the water heater.

  • Open faucets, showers, and other water outlets to ensure complete drainage.

  • Clean and flush the freshwater system with a non-toxic antifreeze solution recommended by the manufacturer.

Step 4: Electrical Systems

Take care of your boat's electrical systems to prevent any potential issues:

  • Disconnect the battery and store it in a cool, dry place. Charge it periodically during winter to maintain its health.

  • Inspect all wiring, terminals, and connections for signs of corrosion or damage. Clean and repair as necessary.

  • Remove electronics, such as GPS devices and fish finders, and store them in a safe place.

Step 5: Protect the Exterior

Protecting the outside of your boat is important, especially if you’re leaving it outdoors over winter. This will help keep its appearance and ensure that the structural integrity of your boat isn’t compromised with the cold weather:

  • Apply quality marine wax to the hull to protect it from frost, hail, rain and other elements.

  • Remove any canvas covers and clean them thoroughly. Let them dry completely before storing.

  • Consider shrink-wrapping your boat for extra protection against snow, ice, and harsh weather conditions.

  • Prop the boat up on jack stands or blocks to prevent hull damage from freezing water or ice.

Step 6: Interior Preparation

Preparing the inside of your boat will help keep it clean and free of musty smells that can develop during long storage periods. 

  • Remove all valuables, including electronics, cushions, and fabrics, to prevent potential damage or theft.

  • Clean and vacuum the interior thoroughly, and remove any food particles. This will help prevent pests or insects from getting in or making your boat their home over winter.

  • Open all cabinets, drawers, and compartments to allow air circulation and prevent musty odours.

Winterising your boat properly is an investment that will pay off when you hit the water in Spring. If you need help transporting your boat to secure lodgings over winter, Wise Move can help. Book your boat transport now. 

What do our customers say?

Read reviews of Wise Move to learn stories from our customers.
Small boat Jetski
Mount Maunganui
Reviewed 2 days ago
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Cashmere, Christchurch
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Motor boat Huntsman dorado
Cashmere, Christchurch
Reviewed 24 April, 2024
Jeff was fantastic, great communication, he did exactly what he said he would, and delivered the boat exactly as requested. I am very impressed and would certainly recommend Eagle Eye and Jeff to anyone with something to transport.
Sail boat on trailer
Reviewed 13 April, 2024
10/10 Nice job, good value, easy and reliable to deal with.

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