The 535 Fisherman is one of a trio of new generation Kiwi Kraft models for 2017, that not only sees a radical change in the pontoon profle but also a signifcant increase in internal space. Barry Thompson went to the Kapiti Coast to check out the smallest of the three.
Invercargill built Kiwi Kraft, has been given a major market boost. While the Kiwi Kraft has always been at the forefront of pontoon boat manufacturing, Kiwi wanted to take it further. Ian Coutts, Sales Manager for Boat City
explained that while they loved the Kiwi Kraft brand and so did their customers, they felt they need to get more involved with the design to better reflect what their customers were asking for. In close cooperation with builder and designer Rodney Harris they have now come up with a whole new look.
“We call them our New Generation models and so far we have released three, the 520 Fisherman, 590 HT and the 620HT and have more to follow”, says Ian.
Kiwi Kraft 535
We Reviewed the Kiwi-Kraft HT 665 HT over at Paraparaumu and met with Ian Coutts, Sales Manager for Boat City, the New Zealand distributors for Kiwi-Kraft.
In the previous issue of Alloy Boat, I reviewed the Kiwi Kraft 520 Fisherman, one of a trio of all new models from this established Invercargill builder. In this issue, I look at two of their latest hardtop models – the 615 Hard Top Sport and the 665 Hard Top Sport. While in many ways similar boats, the big difference is the overall size of each model.
When I went to Paraparaumu and met with Ian Coutts, Sales Manager for Boat City, the New Zealand distributors for Kiwi-Kraft, he was adamant that while the 615 Hard Top Sport and 665 Hard Top Sport were very closely related, there was enough difference in layout and size to make them worth considering as two separate reviews. Apart from that, we were also doing videos on all three of the new models and the difference in ride and handling would be better appreciated if I looked at each boat on its own.
However, the two models share a lot of common features, especially when it comes to the hull layout and pontoon design. These areas that have undergone special attention and really set the new models apart from the previous Kiwi-Krafts. The boats are wider and higher than the models they replace; the 615 Sport & Fisherman replaces the 615 Explorer and the 665 takes over from the popular 650.
Kiwi Kraft 615 HT
Barry Thompson checks out the very latest from Aqualine, while being a clone of the long established Kiwi-Kraft, it’s a brand that has plenty of its own unique features to be an established name in its own right.
I have not been to the Kapiti Coast, Wellington for some time and boating there can be very different to what I am used to on the Hauraki Gulf. On a clear day, you can look across 20nm of some of the most torturous waters in the world to the snow capped peaks on the northernmost tip of the South Island’s Southern Alps. When you consider that this is regarded as a day trip for some locals, you get the feeling that the boys in this part of the world take their boating seriously.
Paraparaumu based Boat City have been servicing the wants and needs of local fishermen and boaties for ??? years and the boats they sell reflects the diverse boating needs of the area. Big alloy hardtops for those trips across Cook Strait or small, lightweight cuddies for beach launching off the sandy beaches.
While Kiwi-Kraft has been the well known brand name of rigid pontoon alloy boat builder Kiwi Engineering & Marine Ltd for 25 years, it was only when Rodney Harris, managing director and founder, saw a need for a strategy to break into the Australian market that the Aqualine brand was introduced. “Selling a boat in Australia with the name Kiwi doesn’t go over well with a lot of Australian buyers, so we thought the easiest thing to do was to change the name to something more generic”, said Harris. The Aqualine range is identical to Kiwi-Kraft, except for a number of new models introduced recently. It is a move that has certainly paid off, with sales to Australia over recent years steady and increasing. “Our market is quite broad and even includes an 11m custom boat to Darwin, plus quite a number of smaller boats sold in North Queensland and Victoria”, added Harris.
However, it seems that Aqualine boats are not just destined for Australia anymore, as the company has appointed a sole North Island dealer, Boat City Paraparaumu, and now sells the brand direct from its factory in Invercargill. Harris has stated that he has no intention of becoming a mass producer of boats – he enjoys the one-on-one interaction with his dealers and boat owners that small-scale production allows. This also leads to a high level of customisation and as he often says, “If you can dream it we can build it.”
Kicking off in July 1988, Harris built his first aluminium Kiwi-Kraft in the shed behind his house. These days, as director of Kiwi-Kraft, he and his small team of craftsmen design and build a range of worldclass boats to meet he needs of the recreational fishing and diving market, as well as for commercial and rescue use. Safety, performance and styling are key in their design.
Rodney Harris enjoys the interaction with his customers and dealers and has no intention of becoming a mass producer of boats; he and his team prefer designing features and customising boats to suit individual requirements. Kiwi-Kraft now operates from a modern 2000 square-metre workshop equipped with the latest technology in alloy welding, CNC cutting, bending and fabrication.
Harris could see the advantages for fishermen, divers and other outdoorsmen and by the end of July 1988, he had built, and quickly sold, his first aluminium Kiwi-Kraft in the shed behind his house. His plan was to design and build a range of world-class boats to meet the needs of the recreational market, as well as for commercial and rescue use. Safety, performance and styling would be paramount in their design.
Harris, the founder and director of Kiwi-Kraft, has stated that he has “no intention of becoming a mass producer of boats”, enjoying the interaction with his customers and dealers as he and his small group of tradesmen design features and customise boats to suit individual requirements. These days KiwiKraft operates from a modern 2000 square-metre workshop equipped with the latest technology in alloy welding, CNC cutting, bending and fabrication.
Smooth, dry and fast
Pintoom boats have a following because they carve through chop and keep their crews dry.
NTMAG took two Aqualine 5.90 hull for a run, both supplied by Barramundi Marine. One was powered by mariner 175 Verdo, the other a 2000hp Mercury, both potent four-bangers.
Suffice to say, with such big donks, speed was mind-boggling. But what impressed was the ride.
The test day was a calm dry season afternoon with a steady breeze. I thought the wake from a passing barge would be enough to get one of the boats partly airborne for a photo.
The problem was, these hulls cut stright through the wake. The nose of the camera boat hardly lifted as we hit the wake at mid-throttle and 50km/h.