VESSEL REVIEW | Te Ao Marama – Whale Watch Kaikoura’s newest catamaran with 116-passenger capacity

VESSEL REVIEW | Te Ao Marama – Whale Watch Kaikoura’s newest catamaran with 116-passenger capacity

Best Whale Watcher – Te Ao Marama

Whale Watch Kaikoura, a tour operator based on New Zealand’s South Island, recently welcomed a new vessel to its fleet.

The bespoke newbuild is the second Whale Watch Kaikoura vessel to be named Te Ao Marama, a Maori phrase that translates into “world of light.” Both the earlier vessel, which was in operation from 2000 to 2016, and the newer one were designed and built by the team of local companies Teknicraft and Q-West Boat Builders.

The newer Te Ao Marama has a length of 24 metres, a beam of 9.2 metres, a draught of 0.9 metres, and seating for up to 116 passengers on two decks. The premium cabin on the upper deck has VIP seating for 12 passengers, a small refrigerator, a drinking fountain, and a plasma television screen. The executive-style, extra-wide contour seats, which were supplied by Beurteaux, face partially outward and help guarantee greater personal space for each guest.

The remaining 104 passengers will be accommodated in a cabin on the main deck. This cabin is enclosed and features large outside viewing decks including a grandstand area on the bow. The spacious interior has plasma television screens as well.

The windows on both decks are large enough to provide passengers with better views of the surrounding marine environment even while indoors. Also, both the main cabin and the premium cabin benefit from the vessel’s advanced climate control and ventilation system, which among other things allows the air in the interior spaces to be replaced every six minutes, circulating fresh air for improved passenger comfort.

The vessel also has wi-fi connectivity, charging points for mobile devices, a cooler for storing refreshments, and a PA system to enable guides to explain the various sights and sounds to passengers on each trip.

A quartet of Scania DI16 076M 671kW main diesel engines drive HamiltonJet HJ364 waterjets to deliver speeds of up to 48 knots. Control of the waterjets is via a HamiltonJet AVX 3 station electronic system, guaranteeing quicker and more precise manoeuvres when sailing in close proximity to whales and other forms of marine life and reducing the risk of collisions. The waterjets also generate very little underwater noise, ensuring only minimal adverse impact on the surrounding marine environment.

The other notable features on the newer Te Ao Marama are a sickle bow hull design and an adjustable hydrofoil system to improve vessel performance and seakeeping capabilities. A Naiad active ride control system has also been fitted to automatically reduce pitch and roll, enabling the operator to fully assume control of the helm and the throttles while underway.

Te Ao Marama has already begun sailing on excursions off Kaikoura, which has become a popular area for sightings of sperm whales, humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, fur seals, and other marine species.

Click here for the other news, features and reviews comprising this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

Te Ao Marama
Type of vessel: Sightseeing vessel
Flag: New Zealand
Owner: Whale Watch Kaikoura, New Zealand
Operator: Whale Watch Kaikoura, New Zealand
Designer: Teknicraft Design, New Zealand
Builder: Q-West Boat Builders, New Zealand
Length overall: 24 metres
Beam: 9.2 metres
Draught: 0.9 metres
Main engines: 4 x Scania DI16 076M, each 671 kW
Propulsion: 4 x HamiltonJet HJ364 waterjets
Steering system: HamiltonJet AVX 3
Maximum speed: 48 knots
Audio/video system: PA system; plasma television screens
Other equipment installed: Adjustable hydrofoil system; Naiad active ride control system; climate control and ventilation system; charging ports; cooler; refrigerator
Seating: Beurteaux
Type of fuel: Diesel
Accommodation: Main cabin; premium cabin
Passengers: 116

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