A major expansion of New Zealand’s superyacht refit capacity is moving forward as part of the redevelopment of Wynyard Quarter on the Auckland waterfront.
The plans for additional support infrastructure, which have the capacity to earn an additional $200 million a year and create up to 1500 new jobs, have the backing of the marine industry, and physical work in this area could begin in the first half of next year.
Sea+City Projects Ltd, which is managing the redevelopment for Auckland Regional Holdings, is putting together packages for private sector participants interested in providing the necessary facilities, and will have these available before the end of the year.
These facilities could include new machinery capable of lifting vessels weighing up to 1000 tonnes out of the water, refurbished slipways and hard stand areas where vessels can be worked on, facilities for stepping masts and buildings which can house multifunctional work spaces. The concept includes significant berthage to provide in water refit and repair facilities.
A new staging harbour with temporary work berths where vessels new vessels can be commissioned is included in the plans, and will enable the marine industry to showcase new projects.
These will all be in addition to the established cluster of marine servicing facilities and skills already servicing principally the domestic market and a limited amount of superyacht refit work.
The new facilities will also include specific facilities for servicing commercial and fishing vessels, from 25 metres to 80 metres in length.
Sea+City Projects has released its latest design concepts for key marine sites along the western edge of Wynyard Quarter, designed to make the best use of the waterfront land, increasing the refit capacity by enabling up to half a dozen superyachts up to 80 metres long to be worked on at the same time in this location. Cooperative Approach
The overall concept is to work co-operatively with the existing superyacht construction industry located at Hobsonville and other locations around Auckland, and in Tauranga and Whangarei.
The marine industry is hopeful that the use of Devonport naval base, with extensive dry dock facilities suitable for superyacht refit and maintenance work when not servicing naval vessels could be increased. This would enable the New Zealand refit industry to have the flexibility to service superyachts up to 180 metres in length, with the industry working co-operatively to use the most appropriate facilities for each project.
The bulk of future refit work will be carried out at Westhaven, with deep water alongside appropriate shore facilities, and the capacity to refit 50 or more superyachts a year. A certain amount of commissioning and refit work and installation of motors and other equipment can be carried out at Hobsonville and other locations.
John Dalzell, Chief Executive and Project Director for Sea City Projects Ltd, says that the plans call for full integration of the water spaces adjoining the western edge of Wynyard Quarter, with the new facilities to be created on shore.
Sea City Projects now has detailed concept plans completed for the both the land and water spaces, which will include maintaining the old cement wharf, and ensuring public access to appropriate points to view the marine activity. Confidence needed in capacity increase
The marine industry is in competition with other locations around the world to capture its share of the 800 or so refits being undertaken at any particular time out of the 7000 superyachts already in existence. Owners often schedule refits several years in advance.
'While a yacht refit may be worth up to $8million, it is well recognised that associated spending by the owner’s family visiting New Zealand and the vessel’s crew can boost that figure considerably,' said Mr Dalzell.
'New Zealand’s marine skills are widely recognised and valued and Auckland is seen as offering cost-efficient, quality servicing of vessels in the middle of a major city – a very appealing package.
'There are concerns about our capacity to handle future demand, without the Wynyard Quarter redevelopment, which is currently being resolved. Australia is making major investments in refit facilities, and the industry here needs to be able to assure overseas superyacht owners that we will have the infrastructure in Auckland to undertake refits,' said Mr Dalzell.
The plans for Wynyard Quarter would put New Zealand into the top 40 refit locations in the world.
'We hope to have achieved a significant increase in capacity by the end of next year , with further capacity increases each year for several years after that.
The latest concept plans are now being discussed with the marine industry,
site work is expected to begin later this year, and discussions are shortly to commence with potential investors attracted by the lucrative superyacht refit opportunity which underpins development of the marine facilities on Wynyard Quarter. Background to the Wynyard Quarter project
Over the next 25 years around 29 hectares of Auckland’s waterfront within Wynyard Quarter will be transformed in stages into a harbourside community with parks and plazas, apartments, shops and offices alongside the traditional marine and fishing industries. It is one of the largest waterfront urban renewal developments ever undertaken in New Zealand.
The regeneration project is a cooperative venture co-funded by Auckland Regional Holdings (ARH), the majority landowner, and Auckland City Council, which will own the roads, promenades, wharfs, parks and plazas. Auckland City Council will also share ownership of the large headland park with Auckland Regional Council (ARC).
ARH established Sea City Projects Ltd (SCPL) to manage the revitalisation, and its commercial land north of Pakenham Street. Auckland City Council has appointed SCPL to project manage the design and construction of the public areas throughout Wynyard Quarter. ARH is a statutory investment management entity and part of the Auckland Regional Council group.