Auckland-based tourism operator Explore Group has expanded its fleet of passenger and tourism vessels with the launch of Tuhi Rapa. The Incat Crowther 29, built by Australian shipyard Aluminium Marine, can transport up to 300 passengers and has been plying the waters of Auckland Harbour and the Bay of Islands since its maiden voyage in late 2022.

Tailored specifically to Explore Group’s needs, Tuhi Rapa –which will act as both a passenger ferry as well as a wildlife sightseeing cruise vessel – features a range of design elements to help increase operational efficiency including the addition of midship boarding doors on the main deck.

Tuhi Rapa’s main deck features spacious indoor seating for 123 passengers, a large bar and kiosk, three toilets, outdoor seating for 8 more passengers and an overhead bicycle store. The mid-deck includes outdoor seating for 37 passengers as well as indoor seating for 65 additional passengers, a bathroom and the vessel’s wheelhouse. There is also a viewing platform and seats for 67 passengers on Tuhi Rapa’s roof deck.

Explore Group Managing Director William Goodfellow told media in Auckland the design of Tuhi Rapa had been tailored for both tourists and local commuters.

Tuhi Rapa has enough space to carry bikes as well as large outdoor spaces and windows for cruising and wildlife viewing in local conditions and came just in time for our busy summer holidays,” said Mr Goodfellow.

“We love the design and operability of Tuhi Rapa. Having owned and operated more than 20 vessels, we can safely say that Tuhi Rapa’s versatility means it stands head and shoulders above anything else,” he added.

Incat Crowther Technical Manager Dan Mace said Incat Crowther’s proven design process was crucial in creating Tuhi Rapa.

“The design of Tuhi Rapa is based on our proven Incat Crowther 29 catamaran, however we worked with Aluminium Marine to tailor Tuhi Rapa specifically to the needs of Explore Group. The result is a flexible, operationally efficient, and safe passenger ferry that also doubles as a tourism catamaran,” said Mr Mace.

“Having worked with Explore Group previously, we knew some of the finer details in the design were incredibly important. It’s great to see Tuhi Rapa on the water and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on yet another successful project,” said Mr Mace.

Tuhi Rapa was named in consultation with Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, the original inhabitants and iwi of Auckland, as part of their ongoing partnership with Explore Group. You can read more about Tuhi Rapa and Explore Group here: