Time to shine

When the Auckland Boat Show kicks off on 23 March 2023, it will be the launching pad for the innovation that has taken off within the thriving New Zealand industry.

Photography by Live Sail Die

27 January 2023


Rapid growth and record boat sales in recent years have seen the country’s boatbuilders create new models, push the boundaries of innovation, and produce a range of vessels to feed the appetite of the boating public. Shaped by the waters surrounding New Zealand and informed by the large boating population of Auckland, these ground-breaking vessels will suit the local conditions to a tee.


Innovation boom

From amphibious vessels crafted around the needs of Auckland’s Waiheke Island to motor yachts designed as family weekenders for the many islands and bays of the Hauraki Gulf, the latest crop of boats that will be on display at the Auckland Boat Show will reflect the enjoyment Kiwis draw from being on local waters.

Take Legacy Marine as an example. The Whakatāne-based builder has entered the market with its flagship model, the 25-metre Paragon. Constructed from aluminium, it’s one of a series in the new Legacy range, which also includes the L35, L45 and L52 models that come from the boatbuilding pedigree of Extreme Boats, a manufacturer of smaller aluminium trailer boats for nearly 20 years.


With the evolution to Legacy Marine, the focus has shifted to larger, luxury vessels designed for extended sport fishing and cruising adventures.

With a top speed of 36 knots and cruising comfortably at 26 knots, a gyro stabiliser means a comfortable ride for those on board. A 9,000-litre diesel capacity delivers an impressive range, and the Legacy team has taken care to produce a vessel with minimised noise and vibration.

Auckland-based Sealegs has announced the development and release of a future-thinking amphibious tender; its 3.8-metre all-electric 3.8TE. The new electric amphibious tender was developed after feedback from superyacht owners and crew, and was specifically designed to fit within the lazarette of larger vessels. Innovation is being delivered in the 3.8TE through Programmable Logic Switching (PLS) technology coupled with next-generation sensors.

To achieve this vision, Sealegs has pioneered amphibious electrification with digital controls and software, which it calls AMTRAX. This proprietary system controls the craft using sensors from the environment, CAN bus information from the outboard, and intelligent automated control of the amphibious mechanisms and land traction systems, as well as the water propulsion system.

From Hamilton, Tristram Boats has released the brand-new diesel-powered Tristram 821 Offshore, which features an array of apex industry advancements and state-of-the-art technology to provide aspiring Tristram owners with some serious inspiration for new machines. The Tristram 821 Offshore was born from Tristram Marine’s CAD design program.

Internally driven and managed, Tristram’s Research and Development CAD program offers the ultimate synergy of youth and wisdom through design, with offshore trailer boating and bluewater performance considered a pivotal focus. The result is a trailer boat that will excel as a long-range bluewater game-fishing craft, available in sterndrive, single outboard or twin outboard configurations.

A class-leading beam and excellent stability add to its fishing credentials, while a range of advanced features – such as joystick piloting for Skyhook digital anchoring and unmatched manoeuvrability while docking – provide plenty of options for the advanced angler.

Also in the trailer boat market, Smuggler Marine has reported an upsurge in the popularity of its 800 Mid Cabin Amphibious model, with now over a dozen on order from its West Auckland factory. A number of the proven and capable 800 Mid Cabin Amphibious RIBs have found their way to Waiheke Island for discerning owners wanting more from their boating experience.

“The demand for our Amphibious models, especially the 800, is growing on Waiheke, as well as other coastal communities,” says Smuggler Marine Managing Director David Pringle.

Elite Boats has designed the 18-metre sport fisher Crazy Diamond, built by Weber Marine Boatbuilders and commissioned by an avid fisherman for both coastal and Pacific Island fishing. A 6,000-litre fuel capacity means Tonga is well within range, and a moderate-V hull form makes for the ultimate in head sea performance.

Maximum beam across the chines aft delivers a stable fishing platform, while the transom below the waterline has been chamfered forward to assist when backing down. With silent chines incorporated into the topsides just above the loaded waterline and one planing strake per side, the hull provides a dry ride in all sea conditions.

Festival on the water

The demand for new boats across various vessel styles reflects New Zealanders’ close ties to the water.

From Auckland, where the Southern Hemisphere’s largest recreational marina – Westhaven Marina – provides a home for more than 1,800 vessels, locals enjoy a marine playground dotted with islands, beaches and enticing sheltered bays.

In the harbour city, finding a view is always possible, and the Auckland Boat Show takes place in the heart of it all.

From a new location in Jellicoe Harbour, Wynyard Quarter, the Auckland Boat Show is adjacent to the Hauraki Gulf, allowing for easy access to the sea trials that make it a prominent feature on the boating calendar.

From the show’s marinas, sea-trial vessels can untie and move straight into Auckland Harbour, demonstrating to showgoers how they move and perform. The show’s new location is flanked by a wide selection of restaurants and bars in the centre of one of the country’s leading hospitality precincts.

Wynyard Quarter has been the centre of a development boom over the last few years, and hotels and restaurants have sprung up around the waterfront as Aucklanders make the most of their harbourside location.

Show patrons can enjoy some of Auckland’s favourite seafood restaurants, French bistros, gastro pubs and leading hotels, all within a minute’s stroll of the show’s gates. The show’s location has seen it evolve into a celebration of the best of summer on the water, creating a festival feel as boats flow in and out of the harbour and visitors gather to enjoy prime time in Auckland.

From the inner-city marina location, it’s an easy hop to the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Famed for their golden sands and individual attractions, boats can explore everything from volcanic islands to beachside vineyards.

It’s a body of water where you’re as likely to see an amphibious vessel accessing a golden sand beach on its way to a winery’s cellar door as you are to see a large motor yacht anchored, enjoying the peace of a secluded volcanic bay.

As a backdrop to the Auckland Boat Show, it’s easy to see how Auckland’s unique marine environment has translated into a culture of innovation among New Zealand boatbuilders.



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