Fullers ferries is investing $16 million to add two additional vessels to the Waiheke-Auckland route, the largest commercial contract in New Zealand history.

The new and faster 360-passenger vessels to be constructed by Wanganui-based Q-West, aim to increase frequency and capacity for commuters and visitors.

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The vessels are modelled on the current Te Kotuku design and will feature electronic engines, improved emission control technologies and an additional 80 seats for passengers.


A scenic platform and increased space for designated cabin baggage has also been planned.

Fullers CEO Doug Hudson said, "it is important for the company, and particularly the shareholder, that the vessels are constructed locally thereby providing a much needed boost to the regional economy."

Locally owned boatmakers Q-West will employ 20 additional staff to work on the construction of the two vessels.

President of the NZ Marine Industry Association, Myyles Fothergill said, "it is fantastic to have such a high calibre company recognising local capability and buying New Zealand made."

Earlier this year Sir Brian Souter and Souter Group announced plans to invest $100 million over a 3-year expansion scheme.

Souter said his company's assets had a value of between $170 million and $180 million. Sales were around $110 million a year, he said.

The company added a new 350 to 400-seat ferry to the Waiheke Island run and had two more on order. The bus fleet was also being rapidly expanded with 15 New Zealand-assembled double deckers added to Auckland and long-haul routes and 10 more on order.

The first vessel will launch in October 2016 and the second in April 2017.