Photos: Surprise treat open down at boat show

By James Ihaka

One of the big attractions at the Auckland International Boat Show, the 35m, multi-decked MV Surprise, casts a shadow over its smaller neighbours.

An all-inclusive week-long trip around the islands of Fiji for four couples on the Surprise costs around $120,000.

The ship's first mate, Frank Johnson, says most of the clients come from America and Europe, but more recently Australians and some well-heeled New Zealanders have paid for the privilege.

Mr Johnson opens the main saloon where historical maps and paintings hang from the European beech wood-finished walls.

The room features comfortable couches and a panorama of windows.

The New Zealand-built ship is fitted with the latest in entertainment systems and a formal dining area for 10. The chef has 38 years' experience.

As you would expect for this kind of dosh, the $20 million ship's four plush and comfortable cabins have tiled en suite bathrooms as well as DVD entertainment systems, internet and telephone access.

The upper deck has a games room and well-stocked library and there are al fresco dining areas on three of the ship's four levels.

"It is like a really nice hotel on the water," said Mr Johnson.

More down-to-earth at the boat show are the 2m inflatable rubber rafts Brett Ingold is selling for just $1700.

"They're light and can easily be rolled up and put in the boot of your car and there's never any issues with storage," said Mr Ingold.

The four-person rafts, which come with a 2hp motor, are the smallest in Mr Ingold's range of inflatables. The most expensive will set buyers back $40,000.

Mr Ingold said business had been very good since the show started.

"There was one woman who just whipped out her credit card and bought [a boat] in front of her husband - who couldn't quite believe it."

Boat Show

Where: Viaduct Harbour
Admission: Adults $14, Under 15 $5
Hours: 10am to 6pm until Sunday

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