Heads turned in Dunedin yesterday when a boat drove
out of Otago Harbour. The Sealegs amphibious craft is on a
record-setting circumnavigation of the South Island.
''It's a professional and personal trip,'' Sealegs
International co-founder David McKee-Wright said yesterday.
''We wanted to set a record for an amphibious craft around
the South Island, because it's never been done before. We
thought it would be a good way to celebrate the 750th boat
we've built. And there's no better way to discover your boat
like sitting in it for 60 or 70 hours.''
The 7.7m craft is powered by a 200hp Evinrude outboard, and
can reach speeds of 80kmh at sea, while the 24hp internal
Honda will reach 10kmh on land. The three all-terrain wheels
are raised and lowered in about five seconds by hydraulic
Mr McKee-Wright and Sealegs International design engineer
Warren Farr left Picton on Thursday and made good time by
cutting across land at Queen Charlotte Sound and Pelorus Bay,
trimming more than 30km off the Picton-Nelson leg of their
''You can go to the all beautiful places that roads don't get
to. They're great for people who live near the ocean. The
design morphed out of the fastest way to get a craft from
land to sea,'' Mr McKee-Wright said.
''The concept is awesome, but the commercialisation has been
a bit more difficult. We've sold them to 44 countries,
though, and this is the 750th one we've built; so there is
definitely a market.''
The New Zealand designed and built craft was worth ''around
$200,000'', he said.
The pair arrived in Dunedin yesterday afternoon, after
exploring Dusky and Milford Sounds, in Fiordland.
''We were in some pretty big seas. We've seen Maui's dolphins
and heaps of sharks and some real penguins. We only get the
little blue ones in Auckland,'' Mr McKee-Wright said.
''We've been doing lots of fishing, too'' Mr Farr added.
''We've been eating blue cod for breakfast, lunch and
Sealegs International produces a range of rigid inflatable
amphibious boats at its Auckland factory for recreational,
commercial and government use.
The pair plan to leave Dunedin early today and hope to reach
Picton by Friday.