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Explore Expedition Cruises’ vessel Te Haerenga Explore Expedition Cruises’ vessel Te Haerenga

New Hauraki Gulf cruises

Tourism operator Explore Group is launching new expedition-style cruises on the Hauraki Gulf to meet demand for Kiwis holidaying closer to home this summer.

Despite the uncertainty created by Delta and alert level changes, William Goodfellow, Explore managing director, says the company sees an opportunity to grow tourism experiences in Auckland and on the Gulf.

He says the product will give agents something to package, possibly with a wider Auckland or regional experience.

‘Trade has always been an important channel for us and this is no different. We’re happy to work with trade on an individual basis and we see this as appealing to couples and families who may otherwise cruise or travel overseas and will be looking for something different in their own back yard.’

He says weddings as well as meetings and corporate functions will also be an important part of operations.

Explore Expedition Cruises will launch on 31 December with passengers able to take a two, three, or five-night cruise to visit islands in the Gulf, including Kawau, Rangitoto, Motutapu, Motuihe, Rotoroa, Ponui, Tiritiri Matangi, Waiheke, Coromandel, and Great Barrier / Aotea.

This is the second stage of Explore Group’s recent expansion following its purchase of Fullers Great Sights operation in the Bay of Islands in July.

Explore Expedition Cruises is part of a wider plan to launch additional on-the-water experiences in Auckland and the Bay of Islands that will not only meet local demand but ensure the industry is prepared when international visitors return in the future.

The 45m boat, named Te Haerenga, being used for the venture has capacity for 60 passengers on overnight cruises. The boat was named in consultation with Auckland iwi Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki.

Explore Expeditions Cruises’ Hauraki Gulf Weekend on the Water sails on Friday and returns on Sunday; the three-night Hauraki Gulf Discovery runs from Sunday to Wednesday; and the five-night Hauraki Gulf Expedition cruise operates from Friday to Wednesday. The cruises are priced from $750 per person, per night, twin share and includes all meals, daily excursions, and water activities.

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