Bus operator InterCity Group is launching overnight and day cruises from Auckland aboard a 44m vessel from September.

The catamaran Ipipiri is New Zealand's largest permanently-based cruise ship and the Auckland-based cruise business was launched today.

Hauraki Blue Cruises will be able to cater cocktail events for up to 100 people and has restaurant seating for up to 80.

The vessel has offers 30 ocean view cabins, complete with en suites and overnight cruises in the vicinity of Waiheke Island will start at $299 per adult. Two and a half hour lunch cruises in the inner harbour would start at $99.


GreatSights Bay of Islands, also part of the InterCity Group, had been operating the vessel in the north since 2009.

The company is redeploying to Auckland to target a a broader and bigger market over a longer season.

InterCity Group and CEO John Thorburn said the cruises were aimed at Auckland locals, the domestic market and international visitors. Special events, such as weddings would also be targeted.

"We're highly confident it will be welcomed by operators and consumers alike. It is a really unique product and our advanced bookings are already exceeding expectations."

The Bay of Islands was more affected by seasonality - quiet winters - than Auckland, he said.

InterCity Group owns and operates coaches to more than 600 destinations around New Zealand and through ownership of Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands has land and marine-based activities throughout Northland, including dolphin watching and scenic coach tours to Cape Reinga and the Hokianga. A Northland tourism operator and Tourist Industry Association board member, Jeroen Jongejans, said the Ipipiri was launched in the Bay of Islands at the time tourism was hit hardest by the global financial crisis.

Jongejans, who is also Northland's regional development body, said the Ipipiri was popular over summer but not one of the region's main attractions.

What the region's tourist operators needed most right now were decent roads to allow visitors to travel there, he said.


• Length: 44.5m
• Width: 13m
• Height: 11m
• Hull depth: 1.4m
• Decks: 4
• Cabins: 30 ocean view rooms with en suites