An extremely buoyant economy, marine-friendly government and an enthusiastic and highly skilled workforce have helped the Kiwi industry to re-establish itself.

while production boat building of boats over 10m is all but non-existent, the refit and service sectors, especially in the superyacht market, is growing rapidly

Kiwi marine industry: While production boat building of boats over 10m is all but non-existent, the refit and service sectors, especially in the superyacht market, is growing rapidly

“The New Zealand marine industry is in the best position it has been in a long time,” says Peter Busfield, executive director of the New Zealand Marine Industry Association.

An extremely buoyant economy, marine-friendly government and an enthusiastic and highly skilled workforce have helped the Kiwi industry to re-establish itself.

Like the rest of the world, the global financial crisis had a devastating effect on the local and export market, but despite that, the industry in almost all areas has been able to bounce back. While in some areas that exceeds pre-crisis highs, for others it hasn’t been so easy.

There are two distinct sectors of the Kiwi marine industry that are doing well, and they are very diverse from each other. At one end is the trailer boat market, which is currently at an all-time high. While the fibreglass and RIB builders are reporting record sales, it is the aluminium trailer boat sector that is booming.

A few years ago the ratio was 70%-30% in favour of fibreglass, but that has completely reversed, with alloy now by far the most dominant. The strong local economy has been especially noticeable with the building sector and local tradesman and contractors now having discretionary spending to buy boats.

“With the Christchurch rebuild and the building boom generally in New Zealand there is a lot of extra money around that is indeed being spent in the trailer boat market,” says Busfield.

Refit & Service

However, while production boat building of boats over 10m is all but non-existent, the refit and service sectors, especially in the superyacht market, is growing rapidly. Currently, it is worth over NZ$400m annually to the local economy, an increase of 50% over the past six years.

“We may have lost over NZ$200m in superyacht new-builds, but we have gained that and more from yachts coming to New Zealand for refits,” says Busfield.

As new facilities, marina berths, haul-out and travel lifts are built, overseas vessels are coming to New Zealand to have major refit and service work carried out. There are new facilities planned at Opua, Whangarei and Tauranga, plus an expansion of Silo Marina in Auckland.

The new Tauranga marine precinct, due to open in late 2017, will see a 350-tonne travel lift (the biggest in New Zealand), plus superyacht-size marina berths.

An accord established between Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tahiti has been set up to encourage superyachts to not only visit the South Pacific but also utilise the many superyacht refit and service facilities in each country. Busfield says the different marine associations are working collectively, rather than fighting each other, to bring the boats to the South Pacific as an alternative to staying in Europe or the Caribbean.

Visiting yachts can now remain in New Zealand for up to 24 months and don’t have to pay GST on sales or services. This has been a huge boost to local businesses. Foreign-flagged vessels can now also charter locally.

Note: This is an excerpt of the country report published in the October issue of IBI magazine. IBI Plus subscribers can download the full report from our website.