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New Zealand opens sea borders, welcomes back cruising yachts and superyachts

by Isla McKechnie/NZ Marine Industry Association 11 May 05:54 PDT 12 May 2022
Superyachts will now be able to compete in the 2023 Millennium Cup to be sailed again in the Bay of Islands, NZ © NZ Marine

In a government announcement on 11 May, the next step in New Zealand’s border reopening has been set, with sea and air borders effectively open for visitors and vessels from 1 August.

The move has been met with delight by the superyacht industry as the final step in New Zealand’s reopening, inviting visitors to return to the gateway to some of the most adventurous cruising in the world, and the renowned refit hub of the South Pacific.

Superyachts, their owners and crew, can now enter easily by land and sea, enjoying simple access to New Zealand’s safe shores, high-quality refit services and world-renowned scenery.

Foreign flagged yachts visiting New Zealand benefit from a superyacht-friendly framework that includes newly completed refit facilities, a 24 month Temporary Import Entry (TIE), and refit services and supplies which are exempt from New Zealand’s 15 per cent goods and services tax (GST).

New Zealand has spent the past two years expanding superyacht offerings across the country’s marine destinations, with additional inner city berthage in Auckland cementing its position as a leading city, globally, where superyachts can be moored in the heart of the CBD. In addition, the rapid expansion of New Zealand’s superyacht refit facilities have included a multi-year, large scale development of specialised superyacht refit facilities, including a new 820 tonne travel lift in the central city, adding to existing central Auckland haul out and slipway facilities which include 1500 tonne, and 600 tonne slipways and a 181 metre dry dock.

Central Auckland boasts 75 superyacht berths in close proximity to FBO airports and steps from award-winning hospitality precincts, with 40 berths for yachts between 25 and 40 metres LOA, and 30 berths capable of accommodating yachts between 40 metres and 100. For the largest yachts in the international fleet - those over 100 metres - Auckland has five berths designed to cater to their needs.

In the north of the country, the expansion of the Bay of Islands Marina with casual berthage available to visiting cruising yachts and a new 120 metre superyacht berth, is the first in a string of new facilities dotted down the country. Next along New Zealand’s coast is an expanded superyacht refit facility in Whangarei and the newly-enlarged Vessel Works haul out yard in Tauranga.

The reopening of New Zealand completes the traditional South Pacific loop for yachts, with most superyachts favouring a journey which takes them through the islands of the Pacific, including beauty spots like Tahiti, Fiji, and then on to the peak of the South Pacific, New Zealand. There, they refit, bunker, provision, explore, charter, and often create a base over several seasons, before heading back into the Pacific and onward on their journeys.

The ultimate superyacht destination

The world’s most-southerly superyacht regatta, the NZ Millennium Cup will return in 2023. Taking place among the 144 islets of the Bay of Islands, it’s a four day celebration of camaraderie and fierce competition, set to a backdrop of daily dolphin vanguards and relaxed hospitality in one of the world’s great natural playgrounds.

Safe and secure berths designed specifically for superyachts can be found around New Zealand, with sub-tropical bays and islets to explore in the north of the country’s North Island, right down to mountains, fiords, and ancient fiords in the South Island.

To enable visitors to fully experience New Zealand, with its adventure around every headland, the 24 month TIE was created to enable foreign flagged yachts to clear into the country and cruise for two years, as well as charter for up to 65 per cent of their time in New Zealand, without paying duties and GST for 24 months after entry.

Two years perfecting the heart of Pacific superyachting

Through 2020 and 2021, the New Zealand superyacht industry turned inward to come back with a refined offering.

Auckland’s expanded superyacht refit facilities in the heart of the central city offer yachts a refit experience which is unrivalled across the region for proximity to the central city, size of travel lifts and haul out abilities, range of skilled on-site marine trades, sustainable water treatment plant, expansive hardstand, in-water workspaces, and on-site worksheds.

Additional refit facilities to the country’s north and south provide extra capacity to accommodate visiting yachts, in this nation designed around its extensive coastlines and seafaring history.

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