New Zealand marine industry spotlight: Kiwi marina growth reflects positivity
In New Zealand, several new and ongoing marina projects signal strong ongoing potential for leisure marine companies. Maryanne Edwards, the Global Marine Business Advisors (GMBA) representative for New Zealand, says new marina developments will ensure the New Zealand marine industry is future-proofed and can handle increasing domestic and global demand.
“The marina and boatyard industry in New Zealand is thriving,” Edwards says. “Kiwis turned to boating while the country’s borders were closed in the covid years, celebrating the America’s Cup and investing in boats instead of travel. Added to this, boosts for marine infrastructure prioritised by the government and private investors as part of covid recovery efforts has further lifted what was already a healthy sector pre-pandemic.”
New Zealand has an expansive coastline but a relatively small population of around 5.5 million people, who own around 20,000 moored vessels at 50 marinas from the far north to the deep south. Increasingly, Edwards says the industry is constrained by water space and the ability to expand, with strict regulations designed to protect the environment making the build of new operations challenging, if not impossible. That said, new marinas are being built at Waiheke Island near Auckland and Whakatāne on the east coast of the North Island.
“While the boutique Waiheke facility provides much-needed berthage for Auckland’s high-end fleet of recreational boats, Whakatāne and Ōhope are strategic investments that ensure infrastructure for commercial vessels and boatbuilders,” explains Edwards. Demand for berths is strong and many marinas maintain extensive waiting lists. Therefore, rather than build new facilities, Edwards says it is much more common to see marina and boatyards investing in expansions and reconfigurations. Along with this, the industry is progressing its environmental performance, and finding ways to work more efficiently in order to service the needs of the growing fleet.
Chris Galbraith, chair of the New Zealand Marina Operators Association (NZMOA) says: “Capital investment is a sure sign the sector is in good health and there has been plenty over the past 12 months, both in water and land-based developments including haul out equipment.”
Queenstown Marina enters stage two
The $20 million Queenstown Marina officially opened at the end of 2022 – a significant development for Queenstown, a tourism town recognised for its natural beauty and ski fields. Lakes Marina Projects partners Iraj Barabi, of the United States, and Alan Kirker, of Queenstown, opened the first stage of the project and its 85 new berths and 17 floating buildings in November 2022.
The partners have recently announced plans for stage two, which will include around 85 more marina berths that will be available for occupation from March 2025. Construction of stage one was completed just as covid hit, and despite the timing, the interest for berths has been unprecedented over the last two years. Construction of stage two, which includes the additional berths and electric charging for boats and vehicles, will begin mid 2023.
“Before we built the marina there were no facilities on Lake Wakatipu catering to larger vessels. Nautical tourism is on the rise and the marina has brought high net worth visitors and residents to the district because it can fully cater for boats over 14m,” says Kirker. There are plans for additional investment to acquire a hydraulic boat trailer suitable for larger vessels, enabling boats to be pulled out of the water for essential repairs and maintenance. Lakes Marina Projects is working with the Queenstown Lakes District Council on provision of a large shed to safely house boats while the work is being carried out.
While marina projects signal great opportunities, GMBA notes that covering insurance risks and the cost of insurance is a challenge for the New Zealand industry. And like its international counterparts attracting and retaining staff, inflation, climate change and supply chain costs are also issues that the industry is facing. Strong environmental policies and progressive regulations can mean that marinas and boatyards have to adapt their approach to meet changing requirements but NZMOA considers that this is an opportunity to uncover new and better ways of doing things and new business opportunities.
Galbraith says: “Marinas and boatyards are like an environmental gateway to make sure the impact of vessels through biofouling, maintenance and waste discharge is minimised, and New Zealand has been particularly innovative in this area, setting benchmarks both through the Clean Marinas programme and the strict environmental standards needed to construct or expand a new marina in recent years.” Regeneration projects continue at a pace. Dovetailed with a strong startup culture and progressive environmentalism, the future for New Zealand’s marine industry looks bright.
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