Q-West Boat Builders New Zealand

Te Ao Marama

Q-West keeps Whale Watch at Sea

Whale Watch Kaikoura was so satisfied with the first vessel Q-West built for them two years a go, it has come back for more.

The Castlecliff based boat builders now have a worldwide reputation for the quality and competitiveness of their work, with orders from the Middle East, America, Australia and throughout the Pacific, as well as in New Zealand.

But it was the success of Wheketere, designed by Nic De Waal of Teknicraft Design in Auckland which has led to more successful orders.

The craft is the Te Ao Marama which underwent sea trials shortly before Christmas before heading down to Kaikoura.

The Wheketere and Te Ao Marama follow the three hull design and are similar in concept to Discovery IV, built for a Bay of Islands dolphin tourist venture, and a smaller version for use on Lake Taupo

Nic De Waal has designed similar vessels for use in South Africa so the design team at Q-West knew it had a tried and trusted design.

Whale Watch Kaikoura looked at boat builders all over Australasia before awarding the company the contract for its first boat. Q-West won the contract both for its ability to meet the design standards and for its competitive edge.

While the 17.7 metre Te Ao Marama is structurally identical to the Wheketere, it has some minor modifications in the colour scheme.

This vessels has two MTU series engines producing 525 kilowatts, equivalent to 715 horsepower. Linked to these are two 391 Hamilton jet units. With these engines and high specifications, the vessel is capable of speeds up to 35 knots fully loaded with its complement of 50 passengers.

Internal specifications include big screen TV and computer links which give passengers a whale’s eye view of the world.

As befits a craft being used for eco-tourism, the vessels anti-fouling paint is silicon based, making it very environmentally friendly. It does not leach poisons or contaminants. It works by being a very slippery surface so that once the vessel is up to speed, anything trying to cling to the hull is simply swept off.

The innovative three hull design gives Te Ao Marama extreme maneuverability, stability, increased deck space and comfort.

“The Wheketere exceeded the clients expectations,” said project manager Colin Mitchell. Whale Watch Kaikoura is so satisfied with the performance of Q-West so far, it is now talking about commissioning a 25 metre vessel to add to its fleet.

The company is owned by Myles Fothergill and uses the latest 3D computer design capabilities.