Why was it built?
Everything about the design of this boat is tailored to ensure the comfort and safety of our guests while having a minimum impact on the environment.
As New Zealand is a popular travel destination, we believe it is increasingly important that experiences focus on quality.
Over the last 15 years, we have grown at a steady rate. We wanted to expand but at the same time not lose our initial vision of creating a memorable, unique and intimate experience for every one of our guests.
Within the team we had many discussions about our direction and growth, concluding it was the right time to upgrade our fleet.
After many months of looking for the “perfect” boat, we found there was nothing suitable on the market that met our needs. Therefore, we began the journey of building Akaroa’s first purpose-built dolphin-watching vessel.
How it came about?
We have always positioned ourselves within the market as being the most luxurious and personalised experience in Akaroa. We have found an increasing number of international and domestic travellers are looking for premium unique experiences, so our vessels needed to reflect this.
When was it built?
2017 In May, we began constructing the catamaran in Auckland. The moulds of the boat were made. These could not be shifted, so were built in 5 stages. Each section was then transferred to Picton and fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle.
2018 The fit-out of the boat was well underway.
2019 The final touches - Engines were placed within the catamaran, the boat was painted inside and out, the electrics wired, flooring and seating were completed and then water testing, all ready to begin cruising at the beginning of October.
The boat has taken longer to build than we had originally planned. This is because we've concentrated on absolute quality, rather than economics and speed of the finished product.
Keeping the good of the old while bringing in the good of the new.
Why is it so special?
Our existing catamaran ‘Into the Blue’ was purchased in 2009 and is an ‘Alan Wright’ 15-metre catamaran (This type of catamaran is popular on the west coast of the USA). We love many aspects of its design, so we decided to build another while adding a few variations.
What are its features?
- Environmental designed state-of-the-art engines
- Stable hull
- Minimum noise transfer to the dolphins
- Uninterrupted panoramic views
- Open-plan lounge seating
- Indoor and outdoor seating
- Sleek profile
- Railing to help people move around the boat safely
- Ability to sit and talk to the skipper
- Self-contained pure water station
- Flushing toilet
- Capacity - up to 40 guests
Other than being the most stylish and luxurious catamaran we have all dreamt about, this boat is also about enhancing the environment of the wildlife, especially the Hector’s dolphins.
Built of fibreglass foam construction, with an exhaust above the waterline, it aims to stop any transfer of noise to the dolphins. The engines are the most modern, state-of-the-art and efficient in today’s world. They burn their own emissions, and as a result, all emissions that are released into the atmosphere are the bare minimum.
Stability is a major part of an enjoyable cruise. We decided to use a semi-displacement hull, rather than a plaining or displacement hull. Taking the benefits from this to create the perfect ride. At speed, it cuts through the water, rising higher out of the sea and skimming across the waves. There is also a lot of buoyancy under the sea to stop the rock & roll motion.
High-quality corking has been utilised on all the flooring. It has been used, not only because of its style but its purpose is to stop sounds from transferring from the engine room to reaching people above, creating a less noisy environment for passengers. The rear end of the boat is also built-in so no backwash can reach passengers sitting at the stern.
For us, it’s all about making a memorable experience, that is why our open-planned lounge & comfortable seating arrangement is strategically placed. Our guests can sit & socialise together while holding their complimentary glass of wine. Passengers are also able to sit upstairs on the flybridge with the captain.
Physical changes that differ from our current catamaran ‘Into the Blue’ consist of; a new upstairs balcony layout, more seating onboard than needed (front, back, cabin, upstairs), anchors underneath the deck, a domestic toilet (no pedals, with a self-draining floor), in the lounge area we have removable middle benches, allowing extra space for events.
Who was involved?
To fit in with our ethos of being locally owned and operated we wanted to use as many local people as possible. Rather than being entirely constructed in Auckland, we had it built in the South Island by Sounds Marine a small company based out of Waikawa, Picton.
As a family-run business, Hugh Waghorn and son George were also the project managers, designers and planners. Both travelled back and forth for periods of time to work with the team.
We have a boat that is very well constructed, robust and built for purpose!
Who is it for?
Domestic as well as International travellers and holidaymakers.
Where will it be used?
In and around Akaroa Harbour throughout the year on our scheduled and private charter cruises.
We have been operating intimate and unique luxury eco-tourism cruises on Akaroa harbour since 2004, where we view the Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, White-flippered penguins and an array of seabirds that live in and around the harbour, while taking in the spectacular scenery.
By providing more than expected and combining this with our experienced staff, luxury facilities, a wealth of history, passion for the environment, and offering complimentary drinks as well as home baking, we have created a first-class experience all within a competitive price. Therefore, attracting visitors both domestically and internationally.
An integral part of the team is our expert dolphin-spotting dogs. Equipped with dog life vests and a keen ear, they’ll help make an unforgettable experience.
Written by Sophie Wadley
Photos by Chalita Aommy Klumjui