All aboard Auckland’s new ferry service
1 October, 2014
All aboard Auckland’s new ferry service
A new Hauraki Gulf ferry service will give tourists and commuters greater choice and a unique travel experience when it launches on Auckland Harbour on Saturday.
Long running New Zealand tourism operator Explore Group will run ferries between Auckland’s downtown ferry terminal to Waiheke Island 12 times a day, catering for the large number of commuters to and from the island.
The new service will also deliver greater options for tourists wanting to get out to Islands with excursions between Auckland, Waiheke Island, Motutapu and Rangitoto six times a day.
The services start on Saturday [October 4] with a special maiden voyage leaving from Pier 3D at 8.30am. Scheduled timetable excursions will depart on a regular basis following the first sailing. For more information go to exploregroup.co.nz.
Explore has more than 15 years of experience in the local tourism market and is best known for its fleet of sailing boats on Auckland Harbour, which offers America’s Cup style racing for tourists and locals, as well as its tours and cruises in the Bay of Islands.
Earlier this year the company hosted Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, pitting the royal couple against each other in a match race.
Explore CEO Kit Nixon says the new ferry service will allow Aucklanders and the thousands of tourists who frequent the city to explore the islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
"We want locals and tourists to explore Auckland’s island playground and we want to provide easy and efficient access to these beautiful, and unique places,” he says.
“We know the Gulf really well because we’re out there every day sailing boats and cruising on the harbour. So we know what people want from an experience when they are out on the water and we want to deliver that for people as they travel to Waiheke, Rangitoto and Motutapu.”
Mr Nixon says the three island destinations offer tourists and locals very different experiences.
“Waiheke has only grown in reputation for having some of the best food and wine Auckland has to offer, along with many other boutique experiences. On Motutapu people have a chance to discover the historic sites, wild life and walking tracks on the harbour’s oldest island.
“And Rangitoto is another world where visitors can explore the volcanic landscape and walk to the summit for 360 degree views of Auckland. It’s all there just waiting to be enjoyed.”
Two boats will operate initially, led by Explore’s flagship vessel, D5, and another new boat D6 will be added to the fleet before the end of the year to increase capability during the busy summer months.
D5 has been refurbished inside and out, giving customers a sleek and comfortable environment to enjoy the Gulf from. The boats also have a full food and beverage service, on board USB points allowing passengers to re-charge their mobile devices and laptops, and at a later date the boats will be equipped with wi-fi.
Explore has great value fares across the board, such as the MyWaiheke Frequent pass designed specifically for Waiheke residents, commuters and frequent travelers which includes free weekend travel and is valid for 2 months.
“This means if a customer doesn’t use up all their days during one month because they’ve had to take days off sick, or they’ve been on annual leave, then it doesn’t count against them,” says Mr Nixon.
Explore will also offer a MyWaiheke Casual pass made up of 10 trips that is valid for a year.
Customers will have access to a personalised online portal where they can purchase tickets, renew passes, and check travel activity.
“We’re excited to be contributing to destination Auckland and growing the number of options for both domestic and international tourists. And we’re excited to be working with the Waiheke community because these services will be of huge benefit to Island residents,” says Mr Nixon.
“But the benefits will be enjoyed by everyone, from tourists and visitors through to New Zealanders and Aucklanders in general.”