A $45 million superyacht formerly owned by a Google co-founder is in Whangārei, undergoing a refit.
Senses, a 59-metre vessel weighing almost 1000 tonnes, is currently sitting in a slipway (boat ramp) at Ship Repair NZ's Port Rd site as it completes its seventh refit in New Zealand, believed to be its first in Whangārei.
According to the SuperYachtfan website, Google co-founder Larry Page bought the expedition vessel in 2011 from New Zealand multi-millionaire Sir Douglas Myers, the long-time chief executive of Lion Breweries and Lion Nathan who passed away in 2017.
The Northern Advocate understands Page, worth an estimated $90 billion, sold Senses last year to an unknown person.
The vessel, built in 1999, can accommodate 12 guests and a crew of 14. It has a range of 11,112 kilometres, has four high speed tenders and a helicopter landing platform. It was spotted in Nelson in 2015 and again in Auckland in 2016.
Senses had been in Whangārei since December 5 and would stay in the slipway and undergo mechanical, structural, interior and paint work until the end of March, when it would be shifted to Port Nikau for further work.
Foreign vessels are not permitted to arrive in New Zealand unless they have an exemption, according to the Maritime Border Order. The permission to grant these exemptions lies with Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Among other circumstances, vessels may be granted an exemption if it is for a significant refit.
Senses' owner could not be on board during the refit and only those essential to the job could enter the vessel.
Senses' prior refits, managed by Integrated Marine Group Ltd, were believed to have been done in Auckland. However, it was decided to utilise Whangārei after increased competition in the Auckland market.
"We're finding now that, to a degree, we're getting squeezed out of Auckland and there are some very good facilities in Whangārei that we are pretty impressed with," Integrated Marine Group general manager Phil Redpath said.
"So far, we're pleased with the workforce and facilities [in Whangārei]."
Redpath was confident the vessel would be back in Whangārei waters for future refits if progress continued as expected.