Boating was invited to the New Zealand launch of the Boston Whaler range of American-built powerboats at the Auckland headquarters of Rayglass Boats, now Boston Whaler’s official New Zealand dealer. Both Rayglass and Boston Whaler are owned by Brunswick Corporation, which also owns Mercury Marine – Boston Whaler and Rayglass boats are powered by Mercury engines.

I’m sure Boston Whalers will be a welcome addition to the huge range of powerboats and yachts available to New Zealand customers.

These days, we are well accustomed to imported boats, especially among larger vessels, most of which are built overseas. Names like Azimut, DuFour, Jeanneau, Beneteau, Princess, Absolute, Maritimo, Prestige, Riviera, Hanse, Sasga, Sea Ray and others are familiar brands. And boat imports are growing, so Kiwi boaties are clearly happy with a yacht or a launch built in Europe, Australia, USA, or Asia.

And while there are still custom boat builders trading on New Zealand’s reputation for cutting-edge skills and superb craftsmanship to provide bespoke creations to discerning customers, very few are attempting ‘production’ boat building on the scale of large overseas builders. In a modest way Rayglass Boats is one of the few exceptions.

NZ Marine has just released its latest survey statistics on the New Zealand marine industry, comparing figures from 2019 with the year ending March 2022. Across the board, the industry grew total revenue by 28% and the boat building sector (including trailer boat manufacturers) saw revenue lift 33%.


It appears the pandemic has been kind to the New Zealand boating industry and, it seems, boating the world over.

But as MIA Executive Director Peter Busfield explained at the Rayglass function, our buying habits differ between larger vessels and smaller, trailerable power boats. While larger vessels, both power and sail, are mostly imported (importers and brokers experienced 145% revenue growth over 2019), New Zealanders overwhelmingly choose New Zealand manufactured trailer boats, even though similar imported models are often cheaper. This mirrors similar behaviour in the USA, where Americans overwhelmingly buy American-built.

This loyalty to New Zealand trailer boat manufacturers reflects a long-standing relationship between the Kiwi boating public and New Zealand boat manufacturers, some of which have been producing boats for generations. Brands like Haines Hunter, Fi Glass, Buccaneer, Rayglass, Tristram, Surtees, Extreme, McLay, Stabicraft and others are household names.

According to NZ Marine, New Zealand powerboat manufacturing total revenue was worth a staggering $315M in the year ending March 2022 – trailer boat dealers have seen their total business grow by 51% since 2019.

When it comes to trailer boats, Kiwis know exactly what they want – and Kiwi manufacturers know what they want, too. Their trailer boats are perfectly tailored to our market and we’re happy to pay a modest premium for them. Interestingly, the MIA’s figures show that New Zealand boat exports (of every type, but led by trailer boats) are also on the up, with a 23% gain over 2019. So it seems other markets around the world are also willing to pay a bit more for Kiwi quality!

This augurs well for the future of the industry.

Happy boating,


John Eichelsheim Editor