By Alanna Lawson
A unique gem found some eight thousand miles south of the equator, New Zealand isn’t the most likely sojourn on the superyacht circuit, but a recent initiative driven by the New Zealand Government may inspire those pondering the journey.
The Destination New Zealand Superyacht Attraction Initiative was launched in March this year after NZ Marine joined forces with New Zealand government bodies to stimulate growth in the sector.
The group, which consists of Tourism New Zealand, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and NZ Marine, will develop different areas of the industry to effectively cover all bases, from infrastructure to events and marketing.
Justin Watson, Director of Trade, PR and Major Events for Tourism New Zealand, says he believes New Zealand has been underselling itself as a super yacht cruising destination, despite having world-class facilities.
“At the moment we get about 40 superyachts visiting New Zealand annually,” says Watson. “A lot of them just come without their owners, so they come to get refit or serviced between seasons.”
“Time and time again we hear people that do come here on their super yachts have an amazing time and absolutely love the experiences that they have, we just want to get a lot more of them.”
Twice as many more, to be exact. The initiative aims to double super yacht numbers in the next five years, and grow the value of the visitor economy from $4.8 billion in 2012, to $7.2 billion annually by 2021 ($NZD).
A number of key strategies and developments are already in the works to help drive these numbers, including the extension of the Temporary Import Entry Visa from 12 months to 24 months.
“Never a better time”
Jason Hill, Tourism Manager at ATEED, says there has never been a better time for super yachts to make the trip, with Auckland now fully equipped to hold and service greater number of yachts.
“In recent years the city has enjoyed a sustained period of development, with several new shopping and dining precincts, as well as tourism infrastructure and experiences,” says Hill.
Silo Marina located on Auckland’s waterfront at Wynyard Quarter has undergone dramatic expansion since 2010, and has tripled its 10-berth capacity to 870 linear meters. Last year the 394-foot superyacht ‘A’ designed by Philippe Starck visited the marina for an extended trip of six months.
The marina also features a new fine-dining precinct called North Wharf, which joins Britomart, Federal Street, the City Works Depot, and a growing number of Michelin-standard dining districts in the area.
Plans for luxury accommodation in Auckland are also rising to meet the superyacht initiative’s demands.
Developments include a 5-star Sofitel hotel, a Ritz Carlton in a new 52-level tower, and a 5-star hotel in SKYCITY, all scheduled to open within the next few years.
This investment in luxury accommodation and refit and repair facilities will complement New Zealand’s already stellar reputation for one-off experiences and unprecedented landscapes, not to mention 15,000kms of unspoilt coastline.
Whether the superyacht initiative is enough to draw Med regulars and Caribbean cruisers to the bottom of the world is yet to be seen, but Justin Watson says you won’t find anywhere else quite like it.
“What travelers across the board like about New Zealand is their ability to access [beautiful landscapes] and interact with it, says Watson.
“New Zealand has fiords, it has desserts, and it has amazing beaches, wineries, rain forests. You’ve got the whole world in one place.”
To read more about some of the unique experience on offer in New Zealand, click here.