Fullers’ inception can be traced back to a family sailing tip in the summer of 1981. George Hudson and his son Douglas saw a tired and worn out procession of wooden ferries slowly ebb past their own boat.
Since the completion of the Harbour Bridge, Auckland’s once booming ferry operation had become neglected – and was figuratively and literally running out of steam. The Hudsons realised the potential for a successful, revamped ferry service, and strove to do something about it.
By the end of that year, the Hudsons founded Gulf Ferries with the purchase of a decrepit fleet – and began revitalising it.
From the early steam ferries to today’s modern catamarans, a lot has changed. In 1987, Gulf Ferries began transitioning the slow, wooden fleet into a sleek, modern operation. The arrival of Gulf Ferries’ first catamaran, Quickcat, was revolutionary for Waiheke Island – it made the 9-to-5 commute to and from the island a reality. The fleet’s replacement continued in 1988 with the arrival of Kea for the Devonport services.
Over the coming years, the company drove multiple expansions – including the purchase of Fullers Corporation Ltd. Recognising the value of the Fullers brand name, the company amalgamated its operations under new name, Fullers Group Ltd.
George continued to play a significant role in the company until 2007. After many successful years, he stepped down from Chairman, and Douglas became Chief Executive – a position he holds to this day.
In 2009, Souter Holdings purchased Fullers Group Ltd. Led by Scottish entrepreneur Brian Souter, the Group welcomed Fullers into its portfolio of top New Zealand transport and tourism operators.
In the same year, Souter Holdings purchased ferry operator 360 Discovery Cruises, adding a unique focus on eco-based tourism. 360 Discovery has seen substantial growth of its own, expanding into commuter services to Beach Haven, Hobsonville and Gulf Harbour communities.
In 2015, when Souter Holdings was renamed InMotion Group, reflecting the company’s focus on growing its urban, city to city, charter and tour service businesses. Its business portfolio includes ManaBus.com, nakedbus.com, and Howick and Eastern Buses – all complementary to Fullers’ and 360 Discovery’s roots in marine transport.
After recognising the need for additional sales and marketing support, Fullers Group launched a specialty agency to tell the important stories behind each brand.
Roam Experiences was launched in 2016, promoting the Group’s wide range of exceptional travel adventures – from transporting visitors to the most epic destinations, to helping them explore when they get there.
Combining the group’s bus and ferry services to create streamlined tourism experiences was the next step in InMotion’s growth and development. This came to fruition under a new tourism strategy in July 2017, which brought ManaBus.com and nakedbus.com come under the Fullers Group Ltd. umbrella. A shift in leadership structure welcomed Mike Horne into a newly created role as Chief Executive Officer for the expanded Fullers Group Ltd. Mike oversees the entire group, driving a transition into a digitally-savvy tourism and leisure business.