The firm providing support for the giant Russian-owned vessel Serene says superyacht tourism is booming. Asia Pacific Superyachts NZ has been in business for 12 years and its founding director, Jeanette Tobin, says "word is out" about what New Zealand had to offer.
The super-rich enjoy the relaxed atmosphere here and that the country is safe, she says. These visitors spend millions of dollars throughout the country over summer. "We've got five times more income than last year. They're all cruising and doing big itineraries and coming for two weeks to two months."
She said her firm was handling a range of vessels this summer ranging from 30m to 56m in addition to the 134m Serene, which slipped into Auckland early yesterday. Tobin and business partner Duthie Lidgard's firm also provided services for the distinctive superyacht "A", which spent months here last summer undergoing maintenance and cruising around the coast.
Tobin said there was a range of owners from Europe and the United States. There was strong interest in Maori culture - with guests having hangi on private beaches on Great Barrier Island and in Northland. One family learned how to kitesurf and others dived at the Poor Knights. Vineyards on Waiheke and in Marlborough were popular, as was hunting and fishing."We try and make it as Kiwi as possible - you can't go anywhere else in the world and find the Kiwi way. We're relaxed but try to keep levels of service as high-end as possible," Tobin said. "They're comfortable, there's not the paparazzi, nobody knows them, they feel safe and comfortable, they don't need security, this is a really safe country."