Car-boat on the road

18:16, Feb 18 2013
David McKee Wright, left and Warren Farr are past by a car as they drive to the launch ramp at the Nelson Marina before leaving Nelson for Westport during their circumnavigation of the South Island in the latest model Sealegs Amphibious marine craft.

Southerners couldn't believe their eyes when a pair of Auckland adventurers drove their boat into town to get petrol.

Sealegs International co-founder David McKee Wright and his crewman, design engineer Warren Farr, took one of the company's 7.7-metre boats, which are capable of travelling on land and sea, on a joyride around the South Island starting and ending in Picton between February 5-14.

The pair managed to trim nearly 140 kilometres off the sea journey of the trip's first leg between Picton and Nelson through the Marlborough Sounds. They drove the boat down a 1.6km stretch of gravel road from Queen Charlotte Sound to Kenepuru Sound, emerging at the Te Mahia resort, and from Elaine Bay in Pelorus Sound across the land to Samson Bay at Croisilles.

Mr Farr said one of his highlights was the following day when they sailed to Farewell Spit, drove across the sandbar, and continued down to Westport.

"The overland stuff was fantastic.

"Driving down the main street in towns in a boat - people couldn't believe their eyes.


"We spent most of the time on the water and came in to land to get petrol - the hydraulics were awesome and the boat held up well."

The pair enjoyed the "rugged beauty" of Milford Sound but were forced to shelter nearby for several days because of bad weather when heading south to Bluff.

A 200-horsepower Evinrude motor propels the boat at up to 80kmh on the water, and a 24hp Honda allows it to reach 10kmh on land. It did not have a full shelter, so the crew had to face whatever came at them.

"We ended up going through three-metre swells and 45-knot winds. We hid in a cove over the weekend and let it die down."

The boat again turned heads, this time on Thames St in central Oamaru when the pair went to get gas. It uses one litre of petrol for every 1.5 kilometres.

They completed the final leg from Akaroa north to Picton on Thursday.

"We've seen some beautiful scenery, I don't know what we'll do next - my mind's still vibrating from this trip."

The journey was a celebration of the completion of their 750th boat and was based on a different adventure they did around the North Island in 2009. The company sells the boats in more than 40 countries.

The boats cannot be licensed to run on public roads.

The Marlborough Express