No travel, so NZ boat sellers see skyrocketing demand

From Checkpoint, 5:30 pm on 3 February 2021

With international travel off the cards, many Kiwis are keen to get out on the water.  

But, boat sellers say they can't match the demand, which has skyrocketed since the first lockdown. 

Space is also scarce for a spot to keep the vessels moored.

First it was travelling around our backyard by car or plane - now everyone wants to do it by boat. 

Janis Marler from NZ Boat Sales has been selling boats in Auckland for over a decade. She said they had been desperately trying to get new stock since August last year. 

''Our measurement really is the fact that we're running out of stock in offshore capables so boats that they can take off shore, people are thinking that there's no time like the present, I think they're getting the feeling that they should do it now." 

And web searches back this up, in the last seven days Trade Me has had 124,000 searches for boats and boating equipment.

That is a more than 30 percent increase compared with the same period last year. 

Spokesperson Logan Mudge said Aucklanders were the most eager. 

''Auckland seems to be leading the charge, nearly 25,000 searches in the last week maybe the America's Cup has a little bit to do with that as well." 

Cantabrians were second with nearly 13,000 searches, followed by the Bay of Plenty region, sitting at almost 12,000 searches. 

Mudge said most interest was coming from one particular group. 

"People searching for the most boats are in that 40-50 age presumably with the most disposable income trying to put it to use with a boat." 

But, according to Janis Marler, those lucky enough to get their hands on a boat were having to fight for a spot to moor it. 

"There's not a lot of marina space so that puts us under pressure, the problem we have is people want them but it's very hard to get a marina space for them, we're a bit short in Auckland, very short." 

She was also concerned newcomers were taking up a hobby without knowing the ropes.

"People think they can just go offshore without a fair bit of experience taking courses and sailing, it's not that simple."

Department of Conservation diodiversity supervisor Molly Hicks echoed this concern after a dead black sea turtle was found on Whangaparaoa beach with deep cuts from a propeller in its shell. 

"Because there is a congestion of boats in an area, they might not be able to move as quick as we would like them to out of the way of an animal or they could even be not judging the water correctly and thinking that it's just a log that they are going over when it's actually an animal."

She urged boaties to be safe on board and be aware of all risks. 

"Please slow down and look where you are going, we want to remind people that when you put yourself and your passengers on your boat, you could cause risk to injuring passengers on board or you could injure wildlife."