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 that year’s Easter Show.

The decision to incorporate a boat show into the Easter Show followed an article in the February 1955 issue of Seaspray magazine suggesting there was a need for a first-class boat show in Auckland.

The initial show worked well and, as a result, was promoted under its own name – the Auckland Easter Show Boat Show – from 1957 until 1960. Perhaps because of the success of these early boat shows, the Outboard Boating Club decided to run its own display of boats in the Farmers car park in the spring of 1958 and 1959, and at Campbell Motors in 1960.

The organisers of the two shows then got together and, along with the Auckland Water Ski Club and the R Class Squadron, ran the first Auckland Boat and Caravan Show in October 1961.

An Auckland fixture since 1956, the event has been called by ‘far the best boat show in Australasia’.

The following year saw the introduction of the famous boat show ‘lakes’. Based in the large, naturally concave arena in front of the historic grandstand, the lake was an integral part of the boat show over the following decades. During this time, it was home to a huge range of entertainment: from hilarious waterski shows and fiercely-fought powerboat races, to a pirate ship giving rides; from performing chimpanzees and a helicopter dumping monsoon buckets of water into the cockpit of an apparently-unsinkable runabout.

In an era of little television and no professional sport, the boat show quickly became a must-see event and, as a result, stayed open for up to 11 days at a time! In 1965, the Showgrounds added an impressive new pavilion, offering an additional 20,000ft2 (about 2000m2 ) of display space. It was a timely addition as the boat show was now a truly national event, attracting boatbuilders and marine businesses from all over the country.


Despite its national appeal, the show continued to go by a variety of names during the ‘60s and ‘70s. From 1963 until 1968 it was known as the Boat and Caravan Show; in 1969 and 1970 as the Auckland Boat Show; from 1971 until 1975 as the Auckland Boat and Caravan Show, and then, in 1976 and 1977, again as the Auckland Boat Show.

In 1978, the name New Zealand National Boat Show was tried for a year, before the ‘National’ was dropped and the event became the New Zealand Boat Show. Although the show was again briefly known as the Auckland Boat Show in 1981, and the New Zealand National Boat Show in 1983, the name New Zealand Boat Show soon found favour and was retained right through until 2001, when the name of principal sponsor Hutchwilco was added.

New boats, chandlery, fishing tackle, and more, attract the crowds every year.

The show has been known as the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show since 2001 and looks likely to remain that way until at least 2024.

The lake returned briefly in 2002 and 2003, again proving popular with the crowds. However, the need to build it entirely above ground and from scratch each year meant it was not a financially-sustainable option long-term. Although the show was held for up to 11 days at a time in the 1970s, in 1983 it was shortened to five days and, in 1985, was moved to Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

In 2007, recognising that Aucklanders were increasingly tending to head away (either on their boats or to holiday homes) on long weekends – and faced with increased labour costs for both exhibitors and organisers thanks to changes in holiday pay for public holidays – the organisers moved the show to its present four-day format held in mid-May.

Also in 2007, the old 1,160m2 Hall 3 was replaced with a modern 5,544m2 pavilion. Spurred on by the show’s constant improvements, exhibitors also stepped up and stands became more and more professional and appealing. By 2011, with visitors from across the Tasman, along with New Zealand marine companies who exhibited in both countries, the consensus was clear: the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show was by far the best boat show in Australasia! BNZ