One of the world’s most exclusive superyachts has berthed in the Northland port of Ōpua for a two-week stay.
The 80-metre Artefact is owned by Canadian tech entrepreneur Mike Lazaridis, best known for creating the BlackBerry mobile device.
Built in Germany in 2020 at an estimated cost of $240 million and named Motor Yacht of the Year in 2021, Artefact is one of the world’s biggest superyachts by volume.
It is also believed to be the biggest motor yacht ever to visit the Bay of Islands.
The vessel arrived just after 1pm on Tuesday and was piloted to Ōpua wharf by the harbourmaster vessel Waikare.
Artefact is expected to stay in the Bay of Islands until 1 January.
It boasts a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system, a range of 5300 nautical miles and a crew of 17, including two chefs and a sous chef.
The vessel is notable for the sheer amount of glass used on the passenger decks – 70 tons of glass went into its construction – and interior features such as a high-ceilinged tai chi room designed so that practitioners of the martial art can hold a sword above their heads.
Lazaridis, 62, was born in Turkey to Greek parents, who moved to Canada when he was a child.
At the age of 12 he won a prize for reading every science book in the library at Windsor, his home town in Ontario.
After founding BlackBerry he went on specialise in quantum computing. He has donated large sums of money to theoretical physics research.
When Lazaridis was nominated as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014, he was described as the father of what later became known as the smartphone.
It was not known if he was on board when Artefact docked on Tuesday afternoon.
Irwin Wilson, commercial manager of port authority Far North Holdings, said the visit of the “magnificent” vessel was a sign of the Bay of Islands’ post-Covid recovery and a bumper season on the water.
Artefact was joined in the bay on Tuesday by the boutique cruise ship Crystal Symphony, one of a record 93 cruise ships expected this season.
Though many more small cruise ships were calling in this year, the number of passengers would also be a record as long as there were no cancellations due to weather or other factors this year.
The season would ramp up after 18 January with three ships on one day on 31 January. The biggest ship, Ovation of the Seas with 4180 passengers, was due back on 12 February.
Wilson said cruise ships played an important role in the economy of the Bay of Islands, and Northland, because they brought “fresh money” into the region rather than just the money locals recycling among themselves.
With each passenger spending on average $180 on shore, that added up to $23m this season, he said.