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(voiceover), Peter Busfield, Diane Byrne
Welcome to Megayacht News Radio, the first and longest running podcast series dedicated to the large, yacht industry hosted by Diane Byrne, the editor of MegayachtNews.com. We feature conversations with engaging and inspiring people in yachting, from shipyard CEOs, to designers, from yacht managers, to young entrepreneurs. And yes, even owners. You’ll learn how they got into yachting, how they’re building better businesses, and especially how they’re helping people like you get more enjoyment out of the yachting lifestyle.
Diane Byrne 00:51
Welcome, everyone. A few months ago, while I was being interviewed coincidentally for a podcast, I was asked some rapid fire questions about my own travels. And when the hosts asked me to name a place I’d like to go that I haven’t yet visited. Without hesitation, I answered, New Zealand. It has been on my bucket list for more than a decade. So when the news came that the country is reopening its border to super yacht visitors this August, I was thrilled, and I knew that many of you would be too, which is why my guest today is Peter Busfield, the executive director of the New Zealand Marine Industry Association. Now for several decades, the organization has been promoting New Zealand’s yachting and superyachting businesses, not just for cruising, but also for service and refit. During the pandemic, of course, that became tremendously difficult, since the country kept its international borders closed for the past two years. But rather than shrug their shoulders and give up, the association members got creative. that creativity is about to pay dividends as several yachts and tourists are making their plans to return. Peter and I are about to discuss these, the ways that everybody got creative, as well as some of his favorite places that we all should put on our respective bucket lists. So Peter, welcome to Megayacht News Radio.
Peter Busfield 02:23
Yeah, good morning, Diane.
Diane Byrne 02:26
Great to have you here. I’m so glad we could arrange this.
Peter Busfield 02:30
It’s nice to be here. Yeah.
Diane Byrne 02:32
Absolutely. So as I mentioned in the intro COVID kept New Zealand pretty much close to the world for two years. So as I had said, also the shipyards and the other members of your association, you know, got a little creative and making sure that they could remain visible to their international clientele. What exactly did everybody do?
Peter Busfield 02:59
You know, that’s that’s a good question, obviously, was pretty devastating, having our borders closed, excuse me. Our borders were closed the border as well. New Zealand, I think was the most isolated country in the world, as we basically kept COVID out for nearly two years until the Omicron version came along a few months ago, which is not obviously as as dangerous as the first Delta and the like so, so we do have Omicron in the community, but the government has seen fit to open our borders, and it’s almost business as usual. The sea border, as you say, is opening on the first of August, and the border a month earlier. So we are open for business, from first of August for all visiting yachts.
Diane Byrne 03:45
And some of the companies I know we’re trying to plan well in advance from when the border would be reopening. They were doing some investing in their own facilities. I know that some of the marinas did things like that. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Peter Busfield 03:59
Yes, one of the flip sides the last couple of years is that the domestic market that people buying boats in New Zealand has skyrocketed. And so this has actually provided good business for the marine industry companies. So there are well over 1000 companies in New Zealand servicing the marine industry. So whilst we elect visiting cruising yachts and visiting super yachts, that domestic market was booming and that many of our members very busy at the same time. Over the last two years, there’s been a lot of expansion of marinas have superyacht berths and superyacht haulout facilities through particularly throughout the North Island and the far north and fungal re Auckland and Tauranga. So all of these places are within 300 nautical miles and of each other and of course, link to Auckland, the major city and the north of the North Island. So there’s a lot more infrastructure And now available to service superyachts. In fact, in Auckland, downtown Auckland, that would be about 70 or 80 superyacht berths. About half of them are empty at the moment. So we’re ready and waiting and ready to welcome the world superyachts back to New Zealand.
Diane Byrne 05:21
Outstanding, outstanding. So let’s talk about the borders reopening. I know there is a special superyacht entry framework in place this temporary import entry for them to come back. So what does it entail? And is it effective when when the the C border is open? Or is it already in place,
Peter Busfield 05:46
We’ve been working closely with the New Zealand government to make it easy for superyachts to visit New Zealand. And progressively we’ve been able to get different rule changes to make it a lot easier. So this has happened over a period of 10 years. But more recently, and just before COVID struck were open for for chartering in New Zealand. So our foreign flagged say a foreign flag USA boat or Marshall Islands, or wherever can come to New Zealand for up to two years the boat does not have to be imported into New Zealand. And and now it can be can be charted out to an international people flying into New Zealand getting on the superyacht during the charter, whilst the boat is a foreign flagged vessel and not imported into New Zealand. So this is a huge opportunity for you super yachts around the world to get some income whilst they’re in New Zealand, and also a huge opportunity for those charters to explore a total new territory that really is brand new to superyacht chartering. And we think this is a huge opportunity for those people who want to come to New Zealand church charter a superyacht and explore the beautiful cruising grounds that we have here.
Diane Byrne 07:02
Great. And then there’s also a duty free benefit that is somewhat tied to that. Can you also talk about that?
Peter Busfield 07:11
Sure. So again, the government is very supportive, and we welcome the visiting yachts, so visitors to New Zealand when they’re buying equipment or refitting the yacht, they do not have to pay the local tax. Now the local consumption tax is called Goods and Services Tax, shortened to G S T. It’s a bit like the VAT is and in England, and it’s 15%, one 5%. But if you’re buying equipment or refund, or even berthing your vessel in New Zealand, you do not have to pay it. So you don’t pay it up front. It’s not a case, like in many countries, you got to pay it and then claim it back with a proper paperwork. You show that to the supplier, and you’re exempt from paying the local 15% GST tax. So that’s a huge opportunity. And it’s a bit of a welcoming, just gesture to the visiting yachts to New Zealand.
Diane Byrne 08:10
Right? Absolutely, that’ll definitely encourage a lot of people to come. Now, in terms of these benefits, the entry rules and the GST break, like you said, you’ve been working for about 10 years with the government to get some of these yacht friendly policies in place. I work with the US Superyacht Association, and I know how challenging that can be. Sometimes we worked with the US Coast Guard, for example, for over a decade to try to get flagging registration or flagging regulations, I should say, changed to allow larger tonnage yachts to be able to carry the US flag. So I know that those kind of relationships can kind of be a little roller coaster. Sometimes you get on a really good roll with somebody and then they change administrations and then you start all over again. So what, what was it like working with the government officials over the past 10 years? It sounds like they were very receptive overall, which is good. But did you ever have moments where you had to really educate them about what super yachts do the value they bring economically and tourism wise?
Peter Busfield 09:18
Yes, absolutely. I mean, really got to put ourselves in their shoes and what their mandate is, so we’re very careful to explain the economic benefit to the community from visiting superyachts. I mean, firstly, superyacht owners and captains and crew are generally very environmentally friendly people. They’re very, they’re very much aware of the environment that they’re sailing and they want to look after the environment. They’ve got good health and safety procedures, and they look after the places they go to. So that’s one key point. The other key point is that they provide employment for the country they are visiting. And you see And we’re very fortunate we run what we book regarded as the world’s best boat boarding apprenticeship program. And in fact, we’ve actually been awarded that acknowledged as the world’s best. And that doesn’t come easy. And and part of that is we’ve got to keep the business coming in. We’ve got to keep the companies busy, so they can afford to bring on new apprentices, and through our training program will train those apprentices. So we make it very clear to New Zealand government that visiting superyachts increases the opportunities for school leavers to have a career in the marine industry, whether it be technicians on the electronic side sailmaking, painting, cabinet making, building boats, and aluminium steel, or wood or composite material, we’ve got qualifications across the whole range of both building and installation, specializations, and additional business from the superyachts translates directly into additional careers and jobs, specialized careers in the high tech part of the industry. And that allows more school leavers to get a career in the marine industry. So I think that’s the major length that actually turns on the government officials, and we’ve been able to demonstrate the amount of business that we get from visiting yachts. Now one key part of this is that, because of the capability of New Zealand marine industry, we are regarded as the major superyacht refit hub of the South Pacific actually basically of the Southern the world of the Southern Hemisphere, we’d be the best equipped for servicing. Whether it’s bureau of air test surveys, or, or a $10 million refit, we’ve got all the expertise all of the haulout yards and people ready to do that. We also have the agents that represent superyacht manufacturers from around the world and all the components, whether it’s Scania engines, Yanmar, MAN, etcetera, all the electronic manufacturers, they’ve representatives in New Zealand, so you can get an immediate service or immediate warranty work done by authorized people that know what they’re doing. So so that is another reason why superyachts like to come to New Zealand and addition to the cruising ground, they can spend some time and having the boat service and that’s where the New Zealand government enjoys the benefit of the yachts coming to New Zealand. So it’s a whole circle of activity. And we make the government officials very much aware of the benefit to the New Zealand taxpayer, the New Zealand community from these western yachts and and also they look great. I mean, if you come to downtown Auckland, it’s a bit like the Monaco of the South Pacific. With all the superyachts all sterns in, there’s 40 or 50 restaurants in walking distance. So it’s really quite a hub and quite a spectacle for the land based visitors to to be able to look at.
Diane Byrne 13:01
Right, right, definitely everybody loves that part. It’s funny when you’re talking about jobs, how you’re communicating that jobs are really a key part of what these yachts drive, it, it reminded me that no matter where we are in the world, it doesn’t matter whether you’re New Zealand, you’re in the United States, you could be maybe in the south of France, the number one priority for every politician regardless of where they are and what party they are, is jobs. As soon as you start to tell them that this is a job creating machine so to speak. They, their ears perk up, we’ve definitely found that here in the United States as well.
Peter Busfield 13:39
Yeah, and just adding to that, you know, sailing superyachts, New Zealand has a specialization in this area. You know, the rigs by Southern Spars, I think they supply about 90% of the world’s rigs, and then sailmakers like Doyle’s are based in New Zealand, New Zealand based company. North Sails have got a major operation here. Evolution Sails and then from baton from SeamTech who specialized for superyacht, battens, and many, many other companies that are world leading are actually based here, right in Auckland, in fact, within, you know, 10 or 12 miles of the the waterfront hubs. So it’s not just the servicing side, we actually do manufacture a lot of equipment that goes on superyachts worldwide. And those yachts love to come back to the base of where their mast and their sail was actually designed and built. And of course, they can be checked over by the experts that know what they’re talking about.
Diane Byrne 14:39
Yeah, absolutely. It’s a special opportunity for sure. So let’s talk about some more of the fun aspects of being in New Zealand. Let’s talk about the places that the arts can visit, especially for people listening who have never been to New Zealand before. If, if you were going to be sitting down with someone who’s planning their first visit Is it as a super yacht owner as a charter? Guest? What have you, what would you say? Are our two or three places they absolutely should go to? And, and why are they must visit destinations?
Peter Busfield 15:13
Well, that’s a good question. Well, starting in the north, which is quite logical, because when people come down from Tahiti, Fiji, that’s a good point. Actually, that isn’t it’s not just by itself in the South Pacific. It’s a group of great countries that have a great offerings of different offerings are like the main ones. But there are more there’s obviously a Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, and many, many other countries that you can visit whilst we’re in the South Pacific. But when you arrive in New Zealand, from the from the north and New Zealand, the main arrival point is in the Bay of Islands. And it’s suitably named because it’s got over 100 islands that you can cruise in and joy. And that’s a special part for me, I actually, with my own family, go cruising in the Bay of Islands whenever I can. It’s about 100 nautical miles north of Auckland, the major city, but I’ll talk about that shortly. So the bay of the Bay of Islands has warm water, it’s got great fishing, and when I say great fishing is king fish, game fish, all types of fish. And you do not need a license to catch fish in New Zealand you put the line over. And in the Bay of Islands, you’re almost guaranteed to catch a fish. So obviously, ecologically, we just want people to catch fish that and keep it for eating. Otherwise, they can return it back back to the ocean. So that’s a great pastime. Another great thing in the Bay of Islands is that you’ll be able to find a beach, probably to yourself. And these are islands with no cars on there’s no roads. In fact, there’s no electricity. So it really is like an island resort in the middle of the Civic. This has not been touched by humans. And you can park up on those bass, take your tender ashore, have a barbecue on the beach, and you’re more than likely to have the beach to yourself. So we’re so many bays to bet on joy that it is very unique. It’s just a great way to relax and just get away from the urban cities. And you really know you’re on holiday when you’ve got your own Bay and the Bay of Islands.
Diane Byrne 17:21
I love it. That sounds perfect.
Peter Busfield 17:23
And then moving further south about 50 nautical miles is an inland but connected by water city called funk array. And it’s a it’s a very quaint place that’s got lovely restaurants lovely harbour that’s welcoming for yachts, and a very good refit center of several major companies for hauling out super yachts and for doing repairs and maintenance. And near full grade there’s an island called the Poor Knights which is world renowned for diving. Now I’m not a diver but I’m told that this is one of the best places in the world for diving. It’s a marine reserves, so you have to leave the fish there. But there are plenty of fish and things to see at the pool nights. Two more to go further, further down towards Auckland, there’s a place called Great Barrier Island. And this is again, a very natural place. It’s quite large, it’s about 30 miles long, and it’s got very deep waterways so your CPR can come in very close to to the different harbors and bays. It’s got a lot of bush on the land. And that’s another special place that I like to visit. And then finally coming through the South is the major city of New Zealand Auckland with 2 million people and it is well set up as a major city centre with all the banks finance houses, and that is also the biggest hub of the New Zealand marine industry. And we’re fortunate that probably due to New Zealand hosting America’s Cup in the year 2000 2004 And most recently in 2020 is that the harbor precinct has been developed to facilitate visiting yachts. So right in the heart of Auckland City ranks all the shops and all the restaurants, superyacht births, and then adjacent to them is one of the largest refit facilities probably in the world actually. But certainly in the southern hemisphere. So RMS have got a new 820 ton call out facility a treble lift, and there are other 600 ton 2000 ton. Well that facility is Titan marine and others and Auckland with a boat will be likely be birth for a while. So from a cruising point of view. You can cruise around Auckland, it’s got a great number of islands also called the hierarchy golf. And there are islands like Waikiki Island And territory Ireland and cow Island and other favorite spots and again, you’re likely to get a beach to yourself with very few people on so around Auckland this great cruising and of course is the International Airport only 30 minutes drive from Auckland City. So that’s a great connection point for private jets or the commercial aircraft flying to Auckland 30 minute drive to your super yard. And then within 30 minutes you can be in the lovely islands of the hierarchy golf around Auckland. Now I’d be mustered just leave you on that and think that’s the only places you can cruise in New Zealand because New Zealand is so much more when you move to the places like the Bay of Plenty further down the North Island. And then into the South Island, which is another gem altogether. There’s a Malboro sounds on the northern side of the South Island, many islands and deep water. And then for the more adventurous you can go right down to the southern side to Milford Sound, and the fjords, which is some of the most southern parts of the world actually. So you can stay here for years, but you’re actually allowed to stay here for two years at a time. And what we’re suggesting is that boats come down here for a year or two. And then they can maybe go to Australia, Fiji, Tahiti for a season and then come back to New Zealand for another two years. So what we did find out die and that when when superyacht started coming to New Zealand, 20 years ago, we thought they were coming to get refitted and serviced by the marine industry, because they were. But what we found after talking to the owners, and the captains, that the main reason they were coming to New Zealand is to cruise and to explore this new nautical area that a lot of people know about, but like udayan, it’s on your bucket list. And so a lot of people just wanted to come and have a look. And what this natural place New Zealand, most unpolluted, 100% Pure, hopefully nice people, not much crime and pretty easygoing place to be. And so they come down here for the cruising. And the refund servicing from the marine industry is actually a byproduct of the boats, first of all coming down to enjoy the scenery, and cruise the lovely the islands around New Zealand.
Diane Byrne 22:16
Oh, good to know. It makes sense, though. Because when people are cruising, you always hope of course everything goes right. But every now and then something might kind of get a little wonky on board or they might decide that they want to add something to the art, maybe some toys or investigate perhaps new sales, something of that nature. So why not have all the businesses there at their disposal to do whatever they need?
Peter Busfield 22:44
Absolutely. And we haven’t talked about when you’re on land because you know the superyacht owners and friends they obviously they love their super yacht and love exploring on their yacht. But what we find is that the owners and friends would spend equal amount of time exploring the land of New Zealand, and his lovely exotic lodges and the Bay of Ireland, the landing Eagle’s Nest further south hookah Lodge, and there’s a whole list of very bespoke lovely luxury lodges either based on the sea front near beaches, or inland on lovely lakes and rivers where you’ll be catch plenty of trout, bush walks, and seeing a different type of nature. So it’s important to understand that New Zealand has a lot of offering on the land, as well as on the water.
Diane Byrne 23:32
Right? Absolutely. Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you were taking notes during all that because I certainly was. I think my bucket list has just become a several buckets list of things I’m going to need to do. So Peter, one last question for you with the sea border reopening. I’m wondering if you and your members already have a sense of how many yachts are planning to come for the season. And related to that, what is the ideal cruising season for them?
Peter Busfield 24:04
Sure, so the idea of cruising season is from December through to April. So we’re at the opposite end of the northern hemisphere. So when it’s cold in the northern hemisphere, it’s very warm in New Zealand so and it’s a moderate temperature not too hot, not too cold, about 25 degrees Celsius, which is I think about 80 or 90 Fahrenheit. And so it’s of range or temperature from December through to April is the prime time for visiting and the North Island. The winter on the North Island is quite mild. We don’t have snow or freezing conditions from Auckland and further north so you can actually cruise all year round in New Zealand. So that’s the best time of the year. It’s a lot of cruises, we’ll spend some time the country that Panama in in May and spend the June, July, August, and Tahiti and Fiji and then come down to New Zealand and October, October, November, and would stay here for 18 months and maybe depart in month of May to go back to Fiji and Tahiti and back through the Panama Canal to the United States. So that’s the what usually happens in that regard. And he had one other question which I’ve forgotten. What was your other question, Diane?
Diane Byrne 25:29
I was wondering if you had a sense of how many yachts are planning to come since the border is reopening.
Peter Busfield 25:36
Prior to a couple of years ago, we’d normally have 40, or 50, superyachts, visiting on an annual basis. When we were hosting the America’s Cup defense, we had over 150 boats booked in and many were on the way, but due to the international lock downs, of course, most of those boats weren’t allowed to come to New Zealand. So we’re being conservative and thinking that we’d like to see 60. That six zero superyachts visiting on an annual basis pretty soon. And I think that will increase over the years. I mean, there’s some activities, exciting activities in the South Pacific coming up. And the Olympic Games surfing event is being held in Tahiti, and 2024. So anyone into surfing, and I know a lot of super yacht owners and crew love surfing, so you better hit Tahiti and 2024. And then on your way to New Zealand. And then the Olympic Games in 2032 is being held in Brisbane, Australia. And I know they’re making facility for up to 200 super yachts for that event. So you know, obviously when you come to South Pacific, we’d like to invite you to come to New Zealand, the crown of the South Pacific. But there are other things and activities to do on your way here.
Diane Byrne 26:49
Right. And one of the things I think is nice is how your organization cooperates with the other country’s maritime organizations to make it easier for the arts to get around since as you say they may go to Tahiti first and then come to New Zealand as they go onward. So that definitely makes life a lot simpler for everybody.
Peter Busfield 27:09
Absolutely, I think it’s an important point that, you know, we see ourselves as the the Mediterranean, the South Pacific equivalent of the Mediterranean many places and countries to visit. And we’ve got good coordination with Tahiti, Fiji, and Australia. And we’re both we’ve got all our rules all aligned. So I need to lose countries, you can spend two years in each of those countries, you can charter out. And you get tax free incentives as well. So I think that the infrastructure and all those countries has increased quite considerably over the last two years. Redundant dissipation for an increased number of super yachts coming to New Zealand, not only for the owners, but also for chartering. So we’d like to see a number of super yachts that are based in the South Pacific that are chartering out, in addition to the owners coming down and drawing them themselves.
Diane Byrne 28:00
Right. Sounds good. Well, Peter, it’s been a pleasure talking to you about New Zealand and the great cruising and charter opportunities and obviously, the service opportunities that await for the owners and the guests in the crew. I have no doubt then a few. I have no doubt that a few listeners will definitely be booking their trips to come on down.
Peter Busfield 28:24
And I can just say to make it easy for those people to find out information. We’ve launched a new website called Superyachting New Zealand. And we’ll endeavour to keep that updated with all the latest rules, regulations and cruising destinations and events. So I should just finalize and say that we’re very excited to be running the New Zealand Millennium Cup, the only superyacht Regatta. And the South Pacific has been running for 20 over 20 years now, so it’ll be held in February 2023. And entries already rolling in for the great superyacht regatta called the New Zealand Millennium cup, February 2023. So details will be on superyacht New Zealand website. Otherwise, you’re more than welcome to contact myself and our people at our office.
Diane Byrne 29:07
Excellent. Thank you, Superyachting New Zealand sounds perfect. Well, everyone that wraps up this episode of Megayacht News Radio. Thanks as always for listening. Until next time, I’m Diane Byrne.
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