A $16 million investment from Fullers will mean two additional, faster 34 metre passenger ferries and increased frequency on the popular Waiheke to Auckland route in what is New Zealand’s largest commercial vessel contract ever awarded.
Fullers, who boast more than 25 years of investment in maritime transport and operate as part of the InMotion group of transport assets, provide the most reliable and comprehensive timetable for the Waiheke crossing with peak commuter services starting at Auckland from 5:35am and the last late night service departing Waiheke at 12:30am.
The new 360-passenger vessels, delivered by Wanganui-based boatbuilders Q-West, mean that Fullers can further commit to consistency of vessel, higher frequency and a travelling speed of 26 knots delivering a superior journey for the 20 daily Auckland – Waiheke services.
The move responds to the estimated 1,000 daily commuters on the popular route as well as increased patronage via local and international tourism growth in Auckland now estimated at 3 million annually.
Fullers CEO Doug Hudson says the builds are the next evolution of the Fullers fleet as it heavily invests in more reliable travel for both locals and visitors.
“Moving to standardised vessels on this route provides the consistency of travel time and service levels that commuters want, which ultimately leads to a better experience for every passenger,” Hudson says.
The ferries will signal the retirement of the ‘overflow vessel’ Jet Raider within the year and the eventual replacement of the 28-year old Quickcat vessel.
Delivered in stages, the first vessel will be launched in October 2016 with the other planned to be christened April 2017.
Modelled on the Te Kotuku design (also built by Q-West and launched in September 2014) that features electronic engines and improved emission control technologies, the two new aluminium catamarans have been modified further based on both staff and passenger feedback with an additional 80 seats, an extra scenic viewing platform and increased designated cabin baggage through a change to the superstructure configuration.
Hudson confirms it was very important to the company, and particularly the shareholder, that the vessels were constructed locally thereby providing a much needed boost to the regional economy.
“Q-West is known for its innovative and quality builds, and with such a large contract we were determined to ensure the local market benefitted from the investment. We knew that the team at Q-West could deliver on what is a maritime milestone for us.”
Q-West’s managing director and President of the NZ Marine Industry Association Myles Fothergill is equally pleased.
“We will be employing 20 additional staff to work on the construction of the two vessels along with our core team who managed the Te Kotuku. We are delighted to be working with Fullers on these exciting projects and it is fantastic to have such a high calibre company recognising local capability and buying New Zealand made.”
Peter Busfield, Executive Director of the NZ Marine Industry Association (NZ Marine) says the two vessel order further boosts an already vibrant marine sector.
“The marine industry is currently worth $1.7 billion to the New Zealand economy. The industry congratulates Fullers for recognising the high quality and perfomance of Q-West vessels and other New Zealand equipment suppliers with this latest order.”
The vessels are designed by Australian company Incat Crowther who have offices in New South Wales, USA, South America and Europe. Incat Crowther has a large team of experienced professional engineers and naval architects with an impressive track record of more than 300 vessels in operation worldwide.
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The Auckland based company Fullers Group has been New Zealand’s leading ferry operator for over 20 years offering a range of ferry trips, tours and charters around Auckland Harbour and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
About Inmotion Group
InMotion Group represents the New Zealand operations of the Souter Investments portfolio.
With a strong focus on growth, InMotion Group incorporates a diversified portfolio of transport assets across New Zealand. These assets include a number of well established companies – Fullers, 360 Discovery, Howick & Eastern buses, ManaBus.com, Mana Coach Services, Nakedbus.com and Reesby Buses – all with a strong market presence and successful operating models.
Based in Whanganui New Zealand, Q-West is well known internationally for building quality aluminium vessels of varying types from 12 metres up to 40 metres in length. The addition of the two new ferries will compliment Q-West’s already extensive repertoire of more than 100 commercial and leisure vessels in operation both in New Zealand and offshore, including Australia, South Pacific, Middle East, USA and Europe.