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A Riviera family affair aboard a home away from home in New Zealand

Adventures, Edition 4 - 2020

A Riviera family affair aboard a home away from home in New Zealand

A successful delivery crossing on a Riviera 445 SUV between the North and South Islands of New Zealand has inspired the owners of Isobar to think beyond their homeport cruising grounds for more offshore travel.

Living in a country that claims to have more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world, the Huston family and their love affair with luxury motor yachts are a perfect fit.

It was a New Zealand summer when three generations of Hustons revelled aboard their new Riviera 445 SUV, Isobar. Now moored off the golden shores of Kaiteriteri Beach, Ben Huston recalls bringing Isobar to her home port of Motueka.

Summertime game nights aboard Isobar.

Ben and his father Garth cruised aboard the luxury motor yacht some 550 nautical miles from Tauranga in the North Island to the top of the South Island. They split the journey up into two full days, overnighting in Napier.

“When we boarded in Tauranga, for the first time on our own and with time to ourselves, we were both a bit speechless and I remember Dad almost had a little tear in his eye. We’ve always had New Zealand boats, and they’re great. But the fit-out and finish of Isobar, the quality and the attention to detail…we were just blown away.”

A Cook Strait crossing calm enough to water ski.

Foul weather forced the pair to wait a week before venturing to throw the lines. The island nation has notoriously unpredictable coastal weather and big seas. Waiting for a good weather window was critical, especially for their maiden voyage.

“Eventually we left Tauranga with around 10 to 15 knots of wind and not much of a sea,” said Ben.
“By the time we’d passed White Island, where the devastating volcanic eruption happened recently, and we had come out of the Bay of Plenty and around the East Cape, it was blowing 30 knots from the east quarter and we had a three-metre swell. It was a good first test for the boat and it performed brilliantly; we were totally impressed by how well she handled.”

The 445 SUV’s blue-water hull is made for optimal offshore performance, the product of decades of design evolution. Combined with a single-deck concept, it all but guarantees a sure-footed cruise.

“It’s got a solid feel about it, smooth and steady. Even in big seas, it was so comfortable on the water. We were totally confident, and we always felt safe and comfortable.”

Abel Tasman National Park boasts a turquoise sea set off against native NZ bush.

Ten hours later they tucked into Hawke’s Bay to refuel and rest at the Napier Sailing Club. The Riviera 445 SUV has a fuel capacity of 2,000 litres. Power for the 445 is twin Volvo Penta D6 IPS 600, each delivering 440 horsepower with a class-leading power-to-weight ratio.

Cruising at an average of 25 knots, Ben and Garth calculated the first leg of the trip would use half a tank of fuel.

“There’s not a lot of places to stop around the Cape so we worked out the distance on the GPS and, taking into account some reserve, decided to fill up at the halfway mark at Napier.”

Space enough for the whole extended family to share.

The next day they were joined by Ben’s brother-in-law for the final leg: a 12-hour cruise south from Napier and through Cook Strait.

“It can be a wild coastline and we were lucky to manage it in two days without needing to pull into Wellington for shelter. Cook Strait was another milestone, but again we were lucky with the weather and you could have water-skied across it was so calm. A 10 to 12-hour day at sea can be tiring, but Isobar is so comfortable; honestly, it was just a cruise really.”

Now moored at her home cruising ground at the Abel Tasman National Park – arguably New Zealand’s most picturesque coastal park – Isobar has become an extension of the family bach (Kiwi lingo for a holiday home) for everyone to use.

Isobar gleaming as she skims south along the North Island in her delivery crossing.

“It’s really a family affair,” says Ben, noting that along with his wife Sophie and their three children, the experience is shared with his two sisters and their respective families, plus Ben’s parents who in total boast 10 grandchildren. “Buying Isobar was all about what works well for the family as a day cruiser with an odd overnight stay for a family.”

For Sophie, the single-deck design of the Riviera 445 SUV, its expansive cockpit and the ability to sit comfortably inside while the kids enjoy themselves outside has been ideal.

“It’s safe outside for younger children because we can enclose the cockpit. Older children and adults find it easy to move around the side of the boat to sit on the bow, and this also suits those who like to jump off the side into the water. I love the design of the galley and the adjacent table and seating area. The storage everywhere is fantastic too.

An action packed summer aboard Isobar.

“Especially, though, I like the spaciousness and comfort, and how well it handles rough seas.”

Even non-boatie friends find the Riviera a breeze, say the Hustons, because it feels safe and there’s plenty of room. Of course, the generator enables all the mod cons: espresso machine, full air-con, a water maker, TV and entertainment system.

After a successful crossing between islands and a summer at sea full of ‘good times’, it is the anticipation of what’s around the next corner that has the Hustons hooked. Having proven herself at sea on a fairly long trip, Ben is looking forward to taking Isobar for more offshore cruising.

Isobar is an extension of the Huston’s family batch.

“After the Tauranga trip, we know what the boat is capable of. We’re thinking Fiordland. If we plan it right with the weather, we’ve got a great boat to be able to get parts of the country we normally wouldn’t see.”