Couple in for the long haul

New cruise boat arrives in Hamilton

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 10:46 09/11/2012

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The husband and wife team behind a new cruise on the Waikato River say they're in it for the long haul and have a sustainable business model to stay afloat.

Their boat - named Waikato River Explorer - arrived in Hamilton, from Nelson, on the back of a truck about 3pm yesterday.

It was gently lifted by a crane and lowered into the water at the Grantham St boat ramp. Managing director and skipper Darren Mills and his wife and fellow director Vanessa have been waiting almost two years to see their plans come to life.

''It's amazing,'' Mrs Mills said. ''There's a gap in the market there and it was something that we were really passionate about - bringing people to the region and giving them an opportunity to look at the river and travel on it.''

There hasn't been a Waikato River cruise since the Waipa Delta left three years ago and Mrs Mills said it was often the first thing tourists to the region asked about.

The boat has been operating in Nelson for eight years doing lunch and dinner cruises under the name Bar-b-cruise, but Mr and Mrs Mills have different plans.

''We are going to do scenic cruises every weekend and casual dining.''

The boat is licensed to carry up to 87 people and has capacity for up to 50 seated diners for corporate or family bookings.

Mrs Mills said, unlike previous cruise operators on the Waikato River, they have the business savvy to keep theirs afloat.

''We're in it for the long haul. We really want to run a sustainable, long-term business.''

They plan to host cruises each weekend between October and May and hope to be operational by November 24.

They will meet with Hamilton City Council on Tuesday to finalise consents and licenses.

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- Waikato

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