Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

SkyCity's 'floating palace' for high rollers

Horizon II at Auckland Viaduct yesterday. Photo / Doug Sherring
Horizon II at Auckland Viaduct yesterday. Photo / Doug Sherring

SkyCity has bought a "floating palace" to entertain high rollers - but insists no gambling will be allowed on board.

The casino giant is believed to have paid more than $2 million for an Activa 6,400 Contemporary, known as Horizon II, which is based at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.

It has a licence to wine and dine wealthy clients 24 hours a day on short sightseeing and fishing trips.

The 21m launch, which sleeps 11 people, can comfortably take 15 people out for day cruises.

At its mooring this week it stood out from other tired-looking charter boats in the Eastern Viaduct.

It boasts a jet ski, an outdoor barbecue, two kayaks, as well as the obligatory fishing rodholder.

SkyCity bought the boat from Adventure Bay Motor Yachts last year. Former owner John Winter said: "It's an ideal boat for entertaining, very good social and cruising boat.

Ideal for what they're doing. They are comfortable boats for people to go cruising." A similar boat was chartered out for $5,900 a day, he said.

The Horizon II was listed for sale at $2.49million plus GST last year, but Winter said it did not sell for full price.

SkyCity spokesman Gordon-Jon Thompson said the company bought the launch to complement the experience it offered high-spending international VIPs.

The boat was designed to show off the best sights and fishing of the Hauraki Gulf, he said, while enjoying SkyCity catering on board.

"International business is a fast-growing part of our business and is export earnings for New Zealand," Thompson said.

"Revenue from these international visitors now makes up 15 per cent of our gaming revenue in Auckland - up from five per cent three years ago."

He said international visitors had gambled about $38 million at the Auckland casino in the last six months of 2012.

"The Horizon II launch gives these international customers a unique Kiwi experience.

"They also visit Auckland's luxury shops and tourist attractions, pumping further money into the Auckland economy," he added.

"As well as enjoying what SkyCity and Auckland have to offer, our guests visit other tourist attractions such as Rotorua and Queenstown, demonstrating the further potential of New Zealand as an international tourist destination for high-spending Asian tourists."

- Herald on Sunday

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