Written by Zoe Hawkins
Photography by Ann Orman
In Te Reo Māori, Rua Moana means two oceans. It’s a special name for a future-focused catamaran from New Zealand’s Pachoud brand that spans two oceans, two countries and a new way of environmental thinking.
Rua Moana bears the hallmarks of a classic. With a design that is visually timeless, adaptable, and full of hidden functions – particularly in relation to performance, fuel consumption and reduced emissions – she will remain well regarded for decades to come.
The first time I saw Rua Moana, I was rushing to a conference in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour and a set of particularly well-dressed, magazine-ready young passengers were boarding. Beautiful people, beautifully dressed and about to enjoy a simply beautiful boat.
She is the only bona fide luxury charter vessel with superyacht status currently operating in the Auckland market and is already very much in demand, despite the pandemic.
Rua Moana was created to fulfil a triple destiny. To lead the way as a luxury semi-displacement motor yacht that minimises its impact on the environment through efficiency and thoughtful design. As a floating haven for her two owners to explore the South Pacific. And as a versatile charter boat that is commercially and environmentally viable.
Rua Moana was lovingly built by Pachoud Yachts in Tauranga, New Zealand. Available for charter through her agency Cruise New Zealand, her calendar is filling fast, including a commitment to host sponsors and guests for Prada during the Prada Cup Event of the 36th America’s Cup Match.
Despite being a semi-displacement design, Rua Moana’s DNA is inspired by the foiling-assisted technology utilised by Pachoud’s offspring company Voodoo Yachts to create extreme efficiency.
That means, with her two MTU 8V 2000 diesel engines, she can cruise at 20 knots with a range of 1,300 nautical miles – potentially reaching as far as Fiji in just over 57 hours from her home base in Auckland.
At 10 knots, for example on a charter cruise in the inner Hauraki Gulf, she can cover 4,650 nautical miles. Consuming just 4.5 litres per nautical mile, she is very stable and comfortable, her broad beam aided by a Humphree trim and stabilisation system. The inhouse design team at Pachoud Yachts, in conjunction with naval architects at LOMOcean and insight from owner’s representative David McQueen, toiled to find the sweet spot in the blueprint for Rua Moana.
“Feedback from guests and clients is overwhelming – they can see the detail, the time and effort that has gone into her. It really has paid dividends,” says co-owner Craig Armstrong, who is also director of the luxury charter specialist Cruise New Zealand, which manages Rua Moana’s charter operations.
Wide, open spaces Rua Moana is 26 metres in length but has the equivalent volume of a 35-metre monohull, with 287 square metres of interior living space and 162 square metres of deck space.
She is a large, stable platform. Constructed across three levels, the living spaces have a staggering amount of volume and inherent flexibility. For example, the expansive 65-square-metre foredeck includes a sun lounger that converts to a spa pool or recessed seating area, and loungers and umbrellas that can be added or removed as required.
The aft deck held two jetskis on the day I visited, with a 4.35-metre jet tender and two Seabobs in the garage underfoot along with myriad paddleboards as well as dive equipment.
It was set in its top (home) position to enable easy boarding from a floating pontoon alongside, but can be lowered to water level and to 700 millimetres below water level. This creates a safe swimming space for younger children, a beach club deck, or an easy space to launch and retrieve equipment – or drive a jetski on board – as needed.
The main deck is open plan, with defined areas for more intimate gatherings, and an electric bulkhead/doors that largely disappear. Upstairs, the seating arrangement is like a jigsaw – able to adapt to the preferences of its incumbent guests.
Owner’s representative David McQueen believes that the alfresco feel of the open galley and connected space is particularly alluring.
“It’s very New Zealand – and very appealing – to eat and look at views; to have a visual on everything around you,” says McQueen.
Rua Moana, which is of fully composite construction, can sleep eight guests and six crew. Her main cabin is spacious, featuring a 4.5-metre single sheet of curved glass that provides a window on the outside world and a massive master bathroom.
She has four perfectly created guest cabins and a media room with optional additional sleeping accommodation. Crew accommodation matches that of the guest cabins in finish. The owners’ desire to create a vessel with as small an environmental footprint as possible drove the quest for efficiency that pushed the envelope in terms of nautical design.
As mentioned above, she has a remarkably low fuel consumption (16 litres per nautical mile at 20 knots) and correspondingly low emissions, but it’s also worth noting her low wake profile, which is appreciated by fellow water users and, of course, less disruptive to coastal ecosystems.
Rua Moana’s electrical system operates in two modes: one is the hotel mode for guests who would like to enjoy the genuine superyacht experience. The low-watt eco mode – generally preferred by owners, guests and crew so far – is vastly more energy-efficient and enables the vessel to run for long periods without the use of the two Fischer Panda PMS-45i generators.
Black-water treatment is taken care of on board, and glass bottles can be dropped into a chute where they are crushed into sand for future recycling. The sparkling water tap reduces the need for plastic bottles.
Continuing with the enviro theme is an interior that utilises materials chosen for their low environmental impact.
Concerned about the consequences of deforestation, high-pressure laminate was the surface of choice. It has been crafted by Pachoud into complex shapes with striking negative detail.
Where wood was necessary, it was sustainably sourced, and the wood grain was hand-painted by an artisan over twelve months in order to match the high-pressure laminate.
Faux leather features in furnishings throughout the boat. While environmentally respectful, these materials are also hard-wearing, practical, and help the vessel meet fire safety criteria necessary to meet Maritime New Zealand’s Part 40A and 40C rules relating to design, construction and equipment.
New Zealand marine interiors specialist Kit Carlier Design undertook the complete design of the interior, welcoming the challenge of the comprehensive client brief.
A neutral colour palette was selected that could be modified with additional accessories but otherwise has enduring appeal. Backlit onyx panels highlight spaces throughout Rua Moana, including the galley bar front and the bathroom associated with the master cabin. The backlighting can be tinted to the user’s preference, as can 500 metres of strip lighting installed throughout the boat.
While the colour palette is future-proofed through its neutrality, the bridge deck is bold, black and masculine. Four helm seats are finished in black leather with contrasting burnt-orange stitching that was customised for this project. Carbon fibre, glass and polished stainless steel related to the vessel’s Furuno and Wassp navigation systems and KVH satellite comms complete the look.
Of course, all owners deserve extra privileges, and a concealed wine cellar ensures the collection is reserved for those in the know. In fact, the design and build team made an art of concealment when they created this vessel, maximising both form and function from bow to stern. What they cannot conceal is their pride in the boat and what they are achieving, in particular, in relation to extreme efficiency.
Mitch Pachoud believes that Rua Moana can be a beacon for conscious yacht design. “We hope this changes things.”
“This boat shows that environmental outcomes don’t have to come at the cost of the luxury and experience you want,” says Pachoud.
Co-owner Craig Armstrong says that in what was a difficult year globally in 2020, Rua Moana has already delighted many people across the country.
“The borders are closed, but it’s lovely to be able to share Rua Moana with New Zealanders. It’s a New Zealand boat, built by a New Zealand company, and Cruise New Zealand is a family-owned New Zealand business. Local people love that.”