After much speculation and considerable uncertainty about the future of the venue – and the show itself – the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show is now confirmed for Auckland Showgrounds in 2023.

The New Zealand Boat Show has been held, under a variety of names every year since 1956, when it was first held at Auckland Showgrounds as part of the 1956 Easter Show.

XPO Exhibitions has announced it is acquiring the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show from long-time owner Auckland Water Ski Club.

Brent Spillane of XPO explains: “AWSC has weathered a challenging period across the pandemic, actively reaching out to find a new owner for this treasured, iconic event. Our team is committed to developing and growing the event; building on the content and visitor experience, and the important commercial return for the marine and fishing industries who exhibit. We have the scale and resourcing to invest in the show’s ongoing success.”

The show will be back at the Auckland Showgrounds on May 18-21, 2023.

With this purchase, XPO now runs 19 of the nation’s largest sector trade shows and consumer exhibitions. “We have many synergies that will add value to the Boat Show, one example being EMEX, a trade-only show with thousands of engineering business visitors and exhibitors – many with ties to the marine industry.” Couple that with hundreds of thousands of show visitors across expos like The Food Show and BuildNZ, with whom they will cross-promote and incentivise them to attend.


“With literally more than 500,000 active registrants and visitors to our wider show portfolio, we are confident we can grow the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show’s targeted attendance to new highs.

“Our team is passionate and connected with the marine industry, with our head office situated in Orams Marine Village in Westhaven.”

While the event is a great day out for keen boaties and their families, there is a serious side – sharing key education and information for the 35,000-plus visitors around boating safety, marine biodiversity, fishing sustainability and so much more.

“We understand our obligation to the marine community and New Zealand in further developing the education side, as well as the entertainment content.”

Premiere Exhibitions’ Dave and Veronica Gibbs will continue to lead the show delivery in May 2023. “Dave and Veronica and their team bring so much value and have deep relationships within the industry,” said Spillane.

The New Zealand Boat Show Awards and Gala Dinner will continue to run alongside the event, Hutchwilco will continue as naming rights sponsor of the show, and Surtees is already building the show’s Grand Prize boat package.

Spillane is no stranger to the Showgrounds. As the largest events hirer of the site, he has just returned from the High Court with a judgment win in hand upholding the historic events’ protections on the site and quashing the attempted lease to a film studio.


“The Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show is arguably the best example of an event that is part of the cultural fabric of this great city – and the bestowment of Sir John Logan-Campbell of this site has allowed this industry and many others to innovate and prosper by showcasing at events. This event alone utilises roughly the entire 20,000m2 of space.

“No one has worked harder than XPO to reaffirm legal protections with the landlord and to celebrate the re-opening of these gates for all events.”

There’s much to look forward to for the 2023 Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show.

Recognising excellence

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the show recognised new release boats with a variety of Boat of the Show awards. In 2001, keen to introduce a more professional and transparent system for the judging of these awards, the organisers made several far-reaching changes. These were primarily designed to bring credibility and cachet to the awards, to ensure all boats were judged equally and fairly, and to encourage ever-higher levels of excellence in boatbuilding.

Under the new rules, manufacturers and distributors had to consciously enter boats into the Awards. Restrictions were placed on how many boats each manufacturer or distributor could enter; boats were judged in distinct categories, each with its own set of detailed criteria, and the judging criteria were made available well in advance.


In addition, the show organisers no longer chose the winners. Instead, with feedback from the industry, they set the criteria and then appointed three respected, independent, and knowledgeable people to judge the entered boats using the well-publicised criteria.

To further encourage excellence in boat building, the organisers introduced a gala Boat of the Show Awards Evening where the category winners were revealed. Featuring a professional MC and AV presentation, a plated three-course dinner, and live entertainment, the Awards Evening quickly became the largest and most popular social event on the marine industry calendar, attracting between 450 and 500 guests.

As a result of these changes, the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show’s Boat of the Show Awards are now recognised as the most prestigious awards in the New Zealand marine industry, with award winners extensively using images of their golden Award plinths in their advertising.