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Fullers360, the country’s largest ferry operator, has partnered with Auckland-based sustainable boating designers, Seachange, to bring a premium 10-seater zero-emission hydrofoiling F8 vessel to the Hauraki Gulf from September 2023.

Designed to deliver high-value sustainable tourism experiences to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, the partnership will see Fullers360 become the first operator to commercialise a vessel of this kind globally.

Mike Horne, Fullers360 CEO, says the collaboration is a significant milestone in the business’s decarbonisation journey and marks a new era in high-end tourism for New Zealand.

“This partnership is a sign of our commitment to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vessels right across our business. We’ve previously signalled this for our public transport services, and now we’re pleased to announce a new high-end tourism experience to the Hauraki Gulf.

“New Zealand tourism operators need to provide innovative, sustainable, climate friendly options to inspire our local and overseas visitors, in a way that also delivers better outcomes for our environment. Our partnership with Seachange will deliver exactly that.

“This is travel like Kiwis have never seen before. Customers will be able to glide across the Hauraki Gulf with quiet electric engines in pure comfort while enjoying the beauty of the marine environment. Intimate groups who board the F8 vessel will immediately feel a sense of luxury as they travel to their destination.”

Founded in 2018, Seachange designs and builds zero-emission hydrofoiling vessels for tourism and transport operators.

The start-up’s advanced hydrofoiling technology allows it to deliver vessels which meet both the speed and range demands of commercial operators, while also providing a more comfortable journey for passengers than comparable non-hydrofoiling boats.

The F8 will be eight metres in length, seat up to 10 passengers, and be able to reach a top speed of 30 knots (around 55 km) per hour.

Max Olson, Seachange Founder and CEO, says the business has bold ambitions to unlock significant emissions reductions in the commercial maritime sectors, and is delighted to be kicking off their first commercial partnership with Fullers360.   

“A shared respect of and connection to the ocean, commitment to green technology, and ambition for New Zealand to lead in the future of water transport, was the instigator for this partnership. We’re immensely proud that our vision and values align so closely with Fullers360 and that together, we will bring a truly unique tourism service to New Zealand”, he says.

With construction of the F8 vessel already underway, the vessel will be available for the public to book from September 2023 onwards, in time for next summer.

The partnership supports commitment and investment by Fullers360 to deliver electric hybrid vessels to Auckland’s public transport ferry network - the first which will arrive in Auckland and commence public transport services in 2024.

Horne says, “Fullers360 and key partners believe green ferry transport and tourism offerings are the future. Together we are pioneering a new era in sustainable maritime travel for Auckland through research and development that will see the delivery and execution of a decarbonised ferry fleet, and new energy sources powering vessels on the water.”