Press Release – East By West Ltd
The East by West Wellington Harbour Ferry service predicts a strong long term expansion strategy, following the sale of the business to a Chinese investor.
East by West Managing Director Jeremy Ward said today the sale of the business, as it nears its 25th anniversary in 2014, was a good decision, setting the business up for its next phase of growth.
The Chinese investor, with interests in tourism in China, is a family man who plans to immigrate to New Zealand.
Mr Ward will continue to manage East by West for at least the next two years and “it’s business as usual.”
“Our strategy of recent years to build up frequency of ferry services between Wellington, Days Bay, Matui Somes Island and Seatoun will continue and is warmly supported by our new investor” Mr Ward said.
This would include the construction of a third ferry in coming years to increase frequency on the Seatoun service.
The Ferry Service started from Days Bay in 1989 with the lease of the old Mt Cook Bay of Islands “Tiger Lilly” ferries. This was a 150 passenger catamaran that was originally one of the first commercial catamarans built out of the well reknown “International Catamarans’ yard in Hobart Australia.
“The first ten years of the service were difficult to say the least, however the business gradually improved, assisted greatly by the replacement of the first vessel with the current City Cat vessel which the company took a deep breath and purchased in early 2000.
“With its economical engines, sturdy construction and faster turnaround times, the City Cat was able to conclusively ‘beat the traffic’ by managing the trip faster than it was possible by road, and gradually commuter numbers built up over the next five years culminating in the commissioning, construction and purchase of the second vessel, the purpose built Cobar Cat, in 2005.
Currently the service brings over 200 commuters a day over from the Eastern Bays into town and this number is expected to grow over the next few years as is recreational and visitor usage.”
• Commenced service on 21st March 1989 with the catamaran Tiger Lilly II.
• Passenger growth, from 60,000 passengers in 2000 to close to 200,000 passengers in 2013
• Increased frequency of service – started with 6 return sailings daily, now running up to 16 scheduled return trips daily 364 days per year (Christmas Day excepted)
• In 1996, Matiu Somes Island was opened to the public for the first time under the control of DOC and the ferry commenced daily services to the Island. It has now become a very popular eco tourist experience, with visitor numbers growing annually. The ferries now call into the island up to 6 times daily.
• In 2000, the company purchased its first vessel, City Cat to take over the retired Tiger Lilly II. The design was a 14.5 metre Malcolm Tennant designed fast catamaran which has proved to be excellent for operating across Wellington Harbour. Capacity 91 passengers and cruising speed 20 knots.
• With the growth in commuter and recreational numbers the company in 2005 commissioned the build of its state of the art flagship Cobar Cat at a construction cost cost of $1.25 million. This was another Malcolm Tennant design, specifically designed for the conditions of Wellington Harbour. A 16.5 metre catamaran with a capacity for 99 passengers and 22 knots cruising.
• Popular weekend round Harbour Explorer Tours calling at Petone, Days Bay, Matiu Somes Island, Seatoun and Queens Wharf introduced in 2006.
• Increased the popular evening catered charters to corporate and social clubs – now running over 60 nights per year
• March 2008 Introduced the new daily Seatoun commuter service.
• October 2008 moved into the newly appointed offices in the Meridian Building Waterside Queens Wharf with new facility of the floating pontoon in front for quicker embarking /disembarking.
Statistics and Facts
• Traveled over 1.5 million kilometres – that’s 3.5 trips to the moon
• Carried over 2.5 million passengers
• Completed well over 200,000 crossings of Wellington Harbour
And to the Future
• A 3rd ferry to expand and provide more services to Seatoun and Days Bay