On Monday 17 October 2022, Fullers360 will make the annual transition to its peak summer timetable for services to Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island and Rotoroa Island – bolstering Auckland’s ferry network with additional sailings to island destinations.
If Waiheke Island is on your to do list this summer, get ready to enjoy an additional 32 return sailings to-and-from the island on weekends.*
Fullers360 CEO Mike Horne says the business is delighted to be able to provide more sailings across the Hauraki Gulf this summer as the number of visitors is expected increase.
“The last few summers were challenging for our business with tourism numbers down. We’re thrilled to once again welcome international visitors onboard our vessels and hope to continue to see the number of Kiwis travelling domestically and supporting local increase.”
Despite being an exciting time for the business, Horne says it is also “bittersweet” due to a critical industry-wide skills shortage that continues to impact Fullers360’s workforce, with the ferry operator currently 15 crews (60 qualified positions) short to run its optimal peak summer timetable and without the workforce capacity to operate back up contingency vessels.
“Our business has been grappling with skills shortage issues for over a year, alongside many other transport and tourism operators in New Zealand. We are working hard to resolve this including launching a domestic and international recruitment campaign, increasing pay for our employees, investing in training and development and partnering with competitors to sustain our summer timetable. We are also actively engaging skilled workers from other markets including Manila, South Africa, Australia and the US; however there is no quick fix.”
Fullers360’s skills shortage includes a requirement for skilled people with specific marine qualifications, as set out by Maritime New Zealand, which take many months/years to achieve from an entry level position.
“We appreciate the frustrations our customers may feel as we anticipate travel delays over summer, particularly during peak times. And we acknowledge that many businesses on Waiheke Island rely on our services for patronage. Unfortunately, it’s a matter of people, not vessels - we have the boats, but not the crews to operate more services that we would so love to deliver.
To manage demand and incentivise travelling off peak, Fullers360 has introduced a special ‘2 for $60’ fare for visitors to Waiheke Island. The fare provides customers travelling off peak with a 35% discount to the standard return fare.
“We are actively encouraging customers to arrive at their departure pier at least an hour early, travel off peak where possible and to be patient with our teams who are working incredibly hard to get everyone where they need to go.”
To support Waiheke Island commuters, Fullers360 will be maximising its Residents’ Lane programme, which ensures Waiheke residents can travel on-and-off the island without added disruption where possible.
“Our focus is to protect resident accessibility through this programme and we will make necessary improvements where possible,” says Horne.
Fullers360 will continue to communicate with and work alongside local government and businesses on Waiheke Island to seek collaborative solutions where possible, in preparation for the peak summer season.
*Waiheke Island summer timetable 2022/23