Three super yachts berthed inside Whangarei harbour for maintenance and refurbishment are part of a marine industry boom set to take off with the America's Cup.
The outsize ocean-going vessels can be seen anchored at Port Nikau and are clearly visible on the drive from Onerahi and out to Port Nikau.
They include J'Ade, the newest $50 million acquisition of New Zealand's richest man, Graeme Hart.
Whangārei's growing marine industry increasingly attracts luxurious yachts and their wealthy owners with local authorities and industry working to make it an appealing option for high-end marine work.
Sharron Beck , associate manager of the Whangārei Marine Group, said most yachts came from Europe, especially the Netherlands, and the United States with growing numbers from South America.
"It's not just the direct spending that Whangārei benefits from. There's a knock-on effect from the spending that comes of the boats, like the crew that will spend money in town," Beck said.
"The marine industry is the largest specialised manufacturing industry in New Zealand."
Yacht season in New Zealand kicks off in November and will go until May, as hurricanes rage through the South Pacific.
Beck said the hope was that Whangārei would be able to cater for more vessels in the future, especially with regard to upcoming America's Cup.
"We already get bookings for the America's Cup," Beck said. "We'd be thrilled if we get 10-15 yachts here."
The New Zealand Marine Industry Association estimates 160 superyachts will visit New Zealand during the 2021 America's Cup, plus over 100 additional boats of 10-20m length.
Currently anchored at Port Nikau is superyacht J'Ade. The vessel was custom built in 2013 by Italian yard CRN and has since been in private hands.
It now reportedly belongs to billionaire businessman Graeme Hart.
Two years ago, Hart sold his 107-metre superyacht Ulysses, which dwarfs the 58-metre J'Ade, for an estimated $265 million.
Then J'Ade was sold in July this year through global luxury yachts dealer Burgess with a €29 million price tag (NZ$50 million). It was transported into Whangārei Harbour late last month, and contractors at Port Nikau have now put up scaffolding for a paint touch-up and some interior remodelling.
J'Ade can comfortably accommodate 10 guests in four VIP cabins and one master suite, all with full en suite bathroom facilities.
A glass elevator connects all decks, including the huge full beam upper deck saloon which incorporates a dining area and is flooded with daylight through full-height windows.
A wellness centre with a gym and a generous spa pool keeps passengers entertained on the sun deck.
J'Ade is expect to be anchored there until January.
Just a few hundred meters down Port Rd, 63-metre cruise ship Coral Discoverer has been hauled up for her annual survey and minor repairs.
The vessel, operated by Australian company Coral Expeditions, regularly cruises from Auckland down to Milford Sound for nature and cultural tours.
Coral Expeditions general group manager Mark Fifield said they had been bringing Coral Discoverer to Whangārei six times for maintenance as the company is pleased with the service here.
Whangārei District Council's district development manager Tony Collins said there had been a lot of planning towards making Whangārei more attractive as a destination for yachts and larger vessels.
WDC had been collaborating with the Northland Regional Council and Northland Inc on the marina extension which received consent in September.
The new marina is expected to create 133 jobs during its two-year construction phase and is expected to pump nearly $10 million a year into the Whangārei economy.
The extension can accommodate between 115 and 130 yachts – an addition to the 177-berth marina at the Town Basin and 109 pile moorings at Kissing Point – and would meet the growing demand for berths for yachts up to 40m.
Collins said the marine industry was contributing immensely towards the local economy and the money generated mainly stayed in the district.
He said passengers from visiting yachts also had the opportunity to discover Whangārei as a destination and could return to invest in businesses or chose to stay here permanently.
Collins said the goal was to further develop the local marine industry and generate more employment opportunity for young people in the region.