A multimillion-dollar superyacht built in Tauranga will soon set sail for Auckland where it's expected to host wealthy international America's Cup guests.
Four guest cabins with king-sized beds, a wine lounge and spa pool are just some of the luxury features on 26.5m catamaran Rua Moana, which is at Vessel Works at Sulphur Point preparing for its maiden voyage.
Some 40 local businesses were involved in the project, which has been described as the first of its kind for Tauranga with big benefits for the city's economy.
The 90-tonne catamaran is owned by Kiwi Craig Armstrong of Cruise New Zealand and an American businessman who, Armstrong said, wished to stay anonymous.
The pair formed a partnership three years ago to create an "environmentally-focused" luxury charter vessel.
They contracted Sulphur Point's Pachoud Yachts, which specialises in custom-made vessels, to create their vision.
The 370 sq m yacht was equipped with "sustainable technologies" and features to ensure minimal waste and a low carbon footprint, Armstrong said.
Features included a sparkling water tap and a glass-to-sand bottle crusher to ensure minimal waste from the boat.
Some 200,000 hours of labour by 150 workers went into the build.
The superyacht could fit 80 people on a day trip and sleep up to eight for week-long voyages, with five permanent crew.
It has four guest cabins, seven bathrooms, a spa pool on the front deck and a flying bridge offering panoramic views.
Inside, guests can enjoy a Bentley-inspired design with 100 per cent New Zealand wool carpets, bedrooms with king-size beds and ensuites, a media room and wine lounge.
Armstrong said "nothing of this calibre" had come out of Tauranga before.
"This is a really big deal for Tauranga ... it's the first of its kind to come out of the city."
He declined to reveal the vessel's value beyond saying it was in the multi-millions.
Although Covid-19 restrictions caused a hiccup with international tourism numbers, Armstrong said he was taking a "long game" approach.
He believed New Zealand's luxury tourism market would bounce back quickly with New Zealand being viewed as a "safe destination" post-Covid.
Rua Moana was being marketed to high-end international and domestic clients looking for a trip around the coast of New Zealand.
In the next couple of weeks, the boat was expected to sail from Tauranga to a mooring in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.
Auckland is preparing to host the 36th America's Cup match from March 6 to 21 next year.
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Many of Rua Moana's charter bookings for day and overnight trips will fall during cup season, Armstrong said.
One was an American philanthropist taking a five-day environmental trip to explore the coastline and contribute money to the Department of Conservation.
Armstong said it was creating an opportunity for overseas travellers to see "our beautiful coastline" and boost the country's brand in the wake of Covid-19.
As many of the guests had their own means of flying, Armstrong said they were looking into making the boat into a self-isolation base with no contact with the land.
He said this would mean money could still be coming into the local economy, yet the risk was minimised.
Mitch Pachoud and his team at Pachoud Yachts had dedicated years to the project, which was the "biggest" they had ever worked on.
The "environmentally-friendly" catamaran had been designed to be one of the "most efficient superyachts in the world", he said.
Every aspect had been carefully thought-out and built with sustainability in mind, he said.
It had some of the lowest fuel consumption for a boat of its size and all the interior had been sustainably sourced, he said.
"You wouldn't find a dead animal inside.".
The project would have pumped "many millions" into the local economy. Forty of the 70 companies that worked on Rua Moana were local.
There was a lot of "pressure and nerves" about getting everything right, but seeing the
"paint hit the sunlight" the last few days was a "big moment", he said.
On Sunday night, 60 people helped move the catamaran 1800 metres down the road at Sulphur Point from the Pachoud Yachts workshop to Vessel Works, a marine service hub.
Powerlines were taken down, tow trucks were at the ready and a custom-made trailer and cradle the size of a road was required to transport the Rua Moana.
Weight: 90 tonnes
Floor/deck area: 370 sq m
Sleeps: up to 8
Daytrip passengers: up to 80
Crew: 5 permanent