Cruise ship has new Auck­land home

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY and JESS LEE

Con­rad An­drew is ready to get out on his new play­ground – the Hau­raki Gulf.

The Bay of Is­lands man is a jack-of-all-trades, work­ing in ev­ery­thing from tele­vi­sion sales to com­mer­cial fish­ing.

He’s spent the last four years as skip­per, en­gi­neer and bows­man of 30-cabin cruise ship Ipipiri.

The 146-foot ves­sel op­er­ated by Hau­raki Blue Cruises is now call­ing Auck­land wa­ters home after it was re­lo­cated to the Viaduct from the Bay of Is­lands in June.

It is the only cruise ship per­ma­nently based in New Zealand.

And the crew is ready to see what the City of Sails has to of­fer, An­drew says.

‘‘We’re ex­cited about get­ting to play in the Hau­raki Gulf for a change.

‘‘The wa­ter is awe­some, it’s never the same. You can go out to the same place each day and it’s al­ways dif­fer­ent.’’

The ship will open for business in mid Septem­ber and is of­fer­ing lunch cruises as well as overnight stays.

Wed­dings are a popular event on board as well as cor­po­rate func­tions and pri­vate par­ties, An­drew says.

A bride was in the mid­dle of her vows when some dol­phins started jumping in the back­ground on one char­tered trip, he says.

‘‘We do have dol­phins turn up most of the time. They seem to like wed­dings.’’

The cruise op­er­a­tor is part of the In­ter­City Group, one of New Zealand’s largest trans­port com­pa­nies.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive John Thor­burn says it was a big decision re­lo­cat­ing the boat to Auck­land after five suc­cess­ful years in the Bay of Is­lands.

The sheer num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing and vis­it­ing Auck­land was the de­cid­ing fac­tor, he says.

And a swell of in­quiries has al­ready started rolling in, he says.

‘‘Auck­land just made real sense.

‘‘It’s a chance to in­ter­act with that amaz­ing Hau­raki and what is a mag­i­cal play­ground in the Waitem­ata Har­bour in a way that isn’t avail­able cur­rently. To us it’s the best of both worlds.’’

Photo: JESS LEE

Good times: Skip­per Con­rad An­drew has had some great ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing his four years on board Ipipiri.

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