New Zealand’s yachting industry

Drop Anchor in New Zealand

Tom Stevens Head of Marine (Europe) at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

Tom Stevens Head of Marine (Europe) at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise looks at the growth of the country’s yachting and marine industries

You only need to ask someone who’s visited New Zealand to be quickly convinced it should be your next destination – the country consistently ranks as one of the most extraordinary and well-loved destinations for visitors, nestled in the glorious and pristine South Pacific waters.

With welcoming rules and regulations for yachts, high quality refit and repair options, unparalleled natural beauty, and optimal sailing conditions, New Zealand makes for an ideal destination for captains and owners seeking an extraordinary sailing experience for all those on board.

Now a well-established South Pacific hub for yachting enthusiasts, New Zealand – or Aotearoa as it’s known in its native Māori language – boasts 15,000 kilometres of coastline, set around a diverse array of snow-capped mountains, blue lakes, lush forests and golden beaches. The dolphins, whales and seals that may accompany you for part of the journey – ducking and diving through your wake or welcoming you on shore – can provide an unforgettable brush with nature for your guests. And in a major show of strength, the New Zealand marine sector grew significantly during the pandemic. The industry totalled NZ$2.9 billion in revenue in the 2022 financial year, up 28% on 2019, the last full year before the Covid pandemic. According to the New Zealand Marine Association, despite pandemic restrictions, from 2019 to 2022 boat building income increased 13% and equipment manufacturing went up 48%. The explanation being that recreational ‘boaties’ were taking advantage of their more flexible work routines to get out on the water more frequently.

An extraordinary result in a time of upheaval, the domestic marine sector revenue grew from NZ$1.67b in 2019 to $2.14b (up 28%) in 2022, and marine exports grew from $600m to $758m (26%). The continued strength of the industry is evidence of its global standing and the high demand for its services. NZ Marine has a goal – which it says it is on track to meet – to nearly double export growth to $1.4b a year by 2030.

Now, New Zealand is completely open and welcoming visitors freely. State-of-the-art and award-winning marinas and shipyards – including in downtown Auckland, the biggest city; Wellington, the capital; and Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty – offer maintenance, refit and repair services.

Many of the 215 marinas and yacht harbours around the country are rapidly expanding. Throughout the pandemic, the industry sought to improve and expand its facilities and services, so when unrestricted travel resumed, the country had an even better offering for visiting yachts.

Take Auckland for example, with 75 superyacht berths, including 30 capable of accommodating yachts between 40 and 100 metres LOA (and another five for yachts over 100 metres), a comprehensive range of refit and repair services, all right in the heart of a vibrant and open city with world-class food and wine.

There are over 520 registered member companies with the NZ Marine Industry Association, and over 200 of these businesses export products around the world.

Some of our best-in-class exports include high-performance sails, rigging and spars, sail battens, foul-free coatings, waterjet propulsion systems, electric engines, multibeam seabed mapping systems, ROVs, carbon fibre accessories, anchor deployment solutions, superyacht tenders, hydrofoiling bicycles, trailer boats and race yachts.

New Zealand has established an enviable reputation for excellence in boatbuilding and marine engineering, as evidenced by continued demand for products and services throughout the pandemic. A number of cutting-edge businesses call the country home, with boat builders, engineers and manufacturers of technologically advanced products having contributed to New Zealand’s success in major yacht races including the America’s Cup (in which Team New Zealand is the defending champion), Sail GP and the Ocean Race.

The island nation has created a friendly customs and border framework for superyachts to enter and stay in the country. Foreign flagged yachts can obtain a 24-month Temporary Import Entry (TIE) and an exemption from New Zealand’s 15 per cent goods and services tax (GST) for refit and repair services completed in the country. This GST exemption covers goods or services that are to form part of the yacht and are exported with the yacht, including berthage costs. GST is simply not charged at the point of purchase when one presents their TIE certificate to a vendor.

A visiting superyacht may be used for charter for up to 65% of the total period it visits the country. There are accredited superyacht agents familiar with managing the procedures required, and an established market and demand for chartering. Additionally, most non-resident crew members won’t pay local income tax. The industry body Superyacht New Zealand has a comprehensive guide to tax, customs, biosecurity, immigration and more at

New Zealand’s many unique marine environments are able to flourish because of the country’s biosecurity rules. Most recreational vessels arriving in the country will need a full biosecurity check on entry, to make sure boats are not entering with harmful pests and diseases that may be common in other countries. This check will include proof of the hull being cleaned in the last 30 days, evidence of an antifoul coating, and a check for insects and pests before your arrival. There are also restrictions or prohibitions on bringing many foodstuffs and plants into the country.

More information and detailed steps on biosecurity and entry requirements can be found on the government’s Ministry for Primary Industries webpage. Once these checks have been completed, you’re allowed to sail freely in New Zealand waters, knowing you are helping protect the marine life in the country.

Another benefit of visiting or having work done in New Zealand is that the country offers competitive pricing, with favourable exchange rates for most currencies. One NZ Dollar is worth 61 US cents and 57 Euro cents at current rates.

The 24-month TIE gives ample time to explore the breath-taking country and neighbouring Pacific Islands. New Zealand has a temperate climate, favourable winds, and due to its vast coastline – numerous sheltered bays and secluded beaches. Whilst New Zealand has two main islands, the North and South, there are a total of 600 dotted around the country.

The country’s indigenous heritage offers visitors a unique and culturally enriching experience. You can immerse yourself in Māori culture and learn about the long history of Māori seafaring.

The largest city Auckland is 129 nautical miles from the world famous and historic Bay of Islands which is home to the country’s earliest capital city, Russell; the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where New Zealand’s founding document was signed; 144 islands; dramatic coastlines; secluded bays; and wild dolphins and migratory whales. Just one of the many rich natural areas that will give your guests an unforgettable experience.

It is a country of adventure – you’re never far from picturesque spots for water sports, diving, surfing, or fishing, or just relaxing in secluded, golden bays. There is great alpine and back-country skiing in the winter, white-water rafting in its myriad of rivers, bungee jumping and sky diving with a view, and hiking across mountains, forests and glaciers nationwide. Given its narrow island nature, New Zealand is one of the few countries in which you can see the sun rise and set on different coasts on the same day. The weather tends to be warmer and dryer from December to April, with February and March serving as the most reliable weather months.

Significant marine events coming in New Zealand that may be of interest to you include the Millennium Cup Superyacht Regatta which will be held in February 2024 in the Bay of Islands, the New Zealand leg of the Sail GP in Auckland in March 2024, and the Auckland Boat Show, a ‘Festival on the Water’, also in March 2024.

Additionally, the New Zealand government’s trade promotion agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, along with a delegation of NZ Marine companies and industry associations, will have a presence at the Monaco Yacht Show in Monaco, and METSTRADE in Amsterdam this year. Please get in touch if you’d like any further information or guidance on the marine and yachting industries in our wonderful country.