They have sailed 14,000 nautical miles halfway around the world, in the wake of the Anzac soldiers and seamen who fought and died a century ago.

New Zealand frigate HMNZS Te Kaha left Wellington on October 16 last year - 100 years to the day that 8500 New Zealand Expeditionary Force troops and almost 4000 horses left to fight in World War 1.

HMNZS Te Kaha's commanding officer, Commander Simon Griffiths, pictured onboard his ship. Photo / Alan Gibson
HMNZS Te Kaha's commanding officer, Commander Simon Griffiths, pictured onboard his ship. Photo / Alan Gibson

Te Kaha met up with Royal Australian Navy frigates HMAS Anzac and HMAS Success and sailed across Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and through the Suez Canal - the first time a New Zealand warship has done so in 22 years.

"It's a long way to go from little old New Zealand," said Te Kaha's commanding officer Commander Simon Griffiths.


After a short stopover on the Greek island of Crete where sailors visited gravesites of the 449 Kiwi soldiers who died at the Battle of Crete in WW2, they headed for Gallipoli.

On Wednesday, they did what the Royal Navy failed to do in early 1915, and sailed through the Dardanelles strait.

Te Kaha has joined Australian, British, French and Turkish warships in the narrow stretch of water that leads to Istanbul for the centenary commemorations.

On Saturday while 10,500 Gallipoli pilgrims huddle together for the much-anticipated dawn service at Anzac Cove, the New Zealand frigate will sit silently 2km offshore.

"The ship's company definitely understand that 100 years ago, those young Kiwis were doing exactly the same thing, flanked by their British and Australian cousins, getting ready to go ashore.

We will be in the same spot at the same time. We all realise the only difference is that they went on and fought a brutal battle and many of them didn't come home. That's not lost on anybody," said Mr Griffiths.

Today a select group of Kiwi sailors will take part in the Commonwealth and Ireland commemoration service as well as an international service.

For many on board Te Kaha who have family connections to Gallipoli, the day will be especially poignant and emotional.


Sean Ritchie, able rate maintenance technician, was selected for the catafalque guard at the Commonwealth and Ireland commemoration service at Helles Memorial.

His great-great grandfather Claude Pocock was in the Canterbury Mounted Rifles and fought at Gallipoli.

"I'm pretty stoked. I never would've expected to get over here. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

When able seaman combat specialist Thomas Nobes told his family he was coming to Gallipoli, his grandmother told him that his great-great grandfather William Gregory and great-great uncle Gerald Gregory fought at Gallipoli.

William got dysentery and died and was buried at Lemnos Island.

"I'll be the first from my family to come to Gallipoli, so for me to bring the family's name and honour back here, it's massive for us. I'm very honoured," he said.

Warrant officer Jeffrey Watt, a 25-year navy veteran, recently discovered his great grandfather Tuhae Christie fought at Gallipoli.

He comes from a strong military family. His two grandfathers served during WW2, while his dad served in the army, and his mother in the air force.

Mr Watt even has an uncle named after the Dardanelles.

"We called him 'Dardy' for short," he said.

To return to Gallipoli where his descendent fought a century ago was "pretty humbling".

"Coming over here for an Anzac Day was always on the bucket list," Mr Watt said.

"I'd like to think that my grandfathers would be proud of me coming here and representing, so to speak. I know my family are."

The Te Kaha sailors will have their own Anzac Day service on board later tomorrow.

Afterwards, it will be the first New Zealand warship to sail to Istanbul before returning to Gallipoli after the crowds have gone. They will then do piracy patrol off the Horn of Africa.