The Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show came to a successful conclusion last Sunday, and as I write, Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, arguably the Southern Hemisphere’s largest, has just opened with 300 exhibitors and over 600 boats. Sydney International Boat Show is scheduled for the end of July.

It was gratifying to see so many Kiwis thronging the exhibition halls and outside displays at Greenlane Showgrounds last weekend. Interesting, too, to note how few of the visitors wore masks, though most of the exhibitors did – some of the time, at least… I believe the term is ‘response fatigue’ and we’re all suffering from it – people are simply over Covid and the many restrictions the pandemic imposed on daily lives, including wearing masks. There’s an overwhelming desire to reset and ‘get back to normal’ even though the disease hasn’t by any means gone away.

I think that desire is reflected in the level of interest and healthy sales figures exhibitors reported from the show. Most New Zealand boat builders, importers and distributors can boast full order books, as has been the case the last two years – Covid couldn’t dampen New Zealanders’ appetite for boating. But for many in the marine industry, supply is by far the bigger issue than demand – stock is in short supply and most manufacturers are booked up well into next year, so you might have to wait a while for delivery of your new vessel.

And while the Hutchwilco is primarily a trailer boat show (with a few bigger boats trucked in), as usual, the range and diversity of craft presented was mind-boggling, if somewhat dominated by aluminium models.

New Zealand boat manufacturers are taking aluminium boats to another level, and while the domestic market makes up the bulk of sales, several companies are exporting boats to countries where ‘New Zealand-built’ equates with ‘premium’. All power to them.


There was considerable speculation amongst show exhibitors about how long the current high level of demand will last – boat builders might have full order books now, which should see them right for a year or two (provided sales don’t fall over in the meantime), but what about after that?

We might have to wait until next year’s round of boat shows* to get a true idea of how the boating public is navigating conditions. The whole world is facing economic headwinds and political uncertainty, with New Zealand very much on trend, so there could be challenges ahead.

But for now, recreational boating and the New Zealand boating industry appear to be in good health.