Rich Listers invite public aboard super yachts, for a price

By Jane Phare

Never mind the global recession, the rich and the glamorous are steadily cruising into Auckland's Viaduct aboard their multi-million-dollar super yachts.

As the Rich Listers soak up some sunshine, their uniformed crew freshen up the flower arrangements and clean already spotless stainless steel, teak decking and paintwork.

The yacht registrations hint at tax havens for the wealthy - Cayman Islands, Georgetown, Bikini/Marshall Islands, Bermuda, the Isle of Man.

And some are even prepared to share the experience - for a price. Jewellery king Michael Hill has torn himself away from his "Hillbrook" golf course near Queenstown to spend some time on his 34.2m motoryacht VvS1, aptly named after an almost flawless diamond.

It's available for charter - "price on application" depending on the number of crew and whether a chef is required. A special - two nights and three days aboard Hill's floating palace - costs $2000 a night each, minimum of eight. The super yacht is available for charter during the Louis Vuitton Pacific yacht race series and come winter will cruise the Pacific.

Built in 2007 by Alloy Yachts, the launch's interior features varnished bamboo and South American wenge flooring, Italian and American walnut furniture, red Italian leather armchairs in the library, American lime-washed oak walls and original artwork, some of it painted by Hill's wife Christine.

Extras include a cinema, a gym and yoga room, a piano, several flat-screen TVs, Apple Mac computers, a teppanyaki bar, giant barbecue and smoker, a dive compressor, and a master en suite with titanium ceiling, Italian tapware and heated towel rails.

Last year VvS1 won a World Super yacht Award in Venice and trophies at the World Yacht Awards in Cannes.

Hill says VvS1 is one of his favourite holiday hideaways, using it to cruise New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Australia with his family.

Another Rich Lister, NBR-owner Barry Colman, is also advertising his super yacht Liberte for charter. It can accommodate 10 people.

Auckland's Viaduct is filling with a selection of some of the world's finest cruising vessels from Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand. Craig Furlong, manager of the Viaduct Harbour Marine Village, said the Viaduct could accommodate about 120 boats and he was expecting most to be filled, in some cases by super yachts between 50 and 60m.

Apart from the Louis Vuitton series (January 31-February 14) and the Millennium Cup (Feb 9-11), some vessels came to shelter from the Pacific cyclone season. Among the most opulent is the 52m motor yacht Tigre D'Or, home to its British owner, with its cream carpet and full-sized baths in its en suites.

Keeping up the local end is the 58m Ulysses, owned by New Zealand's richest man Graeme Hart.

Nearby is the 49m motoryacht Karima, complete with helicopter which is dismantled and kept below deck while in Auckland. Its South American and British owners use the yacht for round-the-world adventures.

Also moored up are some of Auckland's largest charter boats, including the 22m motoryacht Nirvana, once owned by Blue Chip's Mark Bryers and Bob Bangerter, which costs $6885 a day, and the yacht Haparanda, available for $5500 a day.

- Herald on Sunday

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