Jan 04 2022 All Articles

A Guide to Buying A Boat in New Zealand

A Guide to Buying A Boat in New Zealand

The promise of summer is with us. What better time to think of buying a boat?  It’s the perfect toy for ensuring the joys of our sunny season can be maximised and there’s plenty of accommodating coastline – and lakes and rivers - in New Zealand ready and waiting.

Boat ownership is wonderful for so many reasons - whether for fishing trips, diving excursions, water skiing/wake boarding thrills, sailing jaunts, or simply exploring (what a great way to see our world). And it’s so inclusive. Boat ownership comes with the promise of hours of family fun, or the likes of memorable moments creating exaggerated fishing tales with mates.

Add a boat to your holiday plans and reduce stress and escalate the fun!

Mariner Boat Buying Guide

Once you’ve established it’s time to act on your hankering for a boat there are a few things to consider as part of your boat ownership journey. Things like:

  • What type of boat is right for your requirements?
  • What is the cost of boat ownership, including not only purchase cost but running costs, and berthing (if relevant)?
  • Places to buy a boat
  • Online reviews – the most recommended sites
  • What to consider when buying a second-hand boat. Where to get information that covers service records, values, checking it hasn’t been stolen and that there’s no money owing on it
  • Organising a pre-purchase inspection
  • The need for boat insurance.

We’ll cover some of these things below, and link you to some excellent websites that offer comprehensive information. These recommended sites include: www.discoverboating.co.nzwww.marineservices.co.nz; and www.discoverboating.com. The NZ Police website also has second-hand boat purchase advice covering risks around buying what could be a stolen boat.

What floats your boat

Dinghies, high performance boats, bow riders, cabin cruisers, all-purpose fishing boats, jet boats, trawlers… the list goes on. There are so many different sorts of boats. It’s good to know there are models that are general-purpose, rather than specific to one activity.

It’s important to determine early in the piece exactly what type of boat will best suit you and those you plan to have on board. Think about the activities you will be doing on the water. This will help you narrow your choices. There are websites dedicated to helping with exactly that, for example check the Explore the Boat Finder tool courtesy of Discover Boating.

Where you live – or holiday – is likely to influence the sort of boat you buy. It’s a good idea to go out in a boat similar to the one you are considering purchasing and quiz the owner as to what he/she likes and dislikes about it. Or maybe, get out in the water in a few different boats, if you have the opportunity.

When buying your first boat it pays to have a really good look around at what is available in your price range before you commit, and to talk to people you know who are current boaties.

Boat ownership costs

Just how much the average leisure boat costs depends very much on its make, size, features and age.

And, of course, the cost of a boat goes beyond the upfront purchase price. It’s important to factor in ongoing operational costs. Consider things like annual maintenance and usage; and establishment costs such as a trailer, accessories such as life jackets, flares and water-sport towing, and boat insurance. Perhaps storage costs will be a consideration too? Put that in the equation and you will develop an understanding of how much boat you can afford. Marine Services tell us that, if you had $40,000 to spend, $15,000 of it should be set aside for the likes of maintenance, registration, getting emergency and safety gear (life jackets for all passengers, flares etc). This doesn’t include the trailer price, if one isn’t included with the boat sale.

When doing the maths, stop and consider how much you usually spend on vacations – you may well discover boating compares favourably with other leisure activities.

Remember, a boat doesn’t have to be big and expensive. Many an angler/boatie has started out with a humble tinnie (aluminium boat). Just understand and accept their limitations and always remain safety conscious.

Finding a boat to buy

Before you go shopping create a shortlist of your must-have features to keep you on track.

You may well find the boat you are after online from a private seller, or by visiting boat dealerships or boat shows. Perhaps you will purchase straight from a manufacturer.

If you are not buying through a marine dealer then we recommend involving an experienced boatie or marine expert to assess the boat you are thinking of purchasing. Some say, buy a boat on a fair-weather day, as you will want to take it out for a test drive.

If buying second-hand, buying through a marine dealer provides peace of mind as you are covered under NZ consumer law, as well as a warranty. Marine dealers stock predominantly high-quality boats that have undergone checks and provide professional advice on operation and upkeep.

Just be mindful that when buying a second-hand boat from a private individual, in an auction or by tender, that there is no warranty under NZ law and any issues will be your responsibility.

If you are buying new you have the surety of your boat having no “history” and of course you have a warranty.

On-line reviews

Need someone to help you do your boat buying homework? There are New Zealand websites that provide reviews of various craft. Boating NZ is one of these. Such sites are great referral points if the whole decision-making process starts to feel a little overwhelming. If it’s a fishing boat you are after, then you may wish to check out The Fishing Website which includes reviews.

Checking up on your planned purchase

If you are buying second-hand there is information you will want to access. Play it safe – take time to check your boat’s past.

You will want your boat’s service records. Questions to ask the seller include: How often has the boat been serviced? What problems has it had in the past and how were they remedied? Think of this like a health check.

Did you know there is a police data base recording stolen boats? Check it here.

If your boat purchase involves a private sale, the police advise you confirm where the person selling the boat lives – don’t meet in a public place. It pays to also check that no money is owing on the boat. Advice around such matters and more is available here on the police website.

Ensuring you have all the safety boxes ticked

NZ fishing magazine featured an article offering – amongst other things – sound boating safety advice. This covered the crucial need to always have a backup device or backup plan. For example:

  1. Carry three times as much fuel as you think you will need to get there and back
  2. Have two means of propulsion such as the main motor and an auxiliary motor.
  3. Have a marine two-way radio and a cell phone.
  4. Have two bailers instead of one.

For more such wisdoms read on.

If you are new to boating, then ensure you have the boating information and certifications you need to be a safe boater before you hit the water. We highly recommend taking a Day Skipper course or similar with Coastguard Boating Education if you haven’t already done so.

Sale and Purchase Agreements

When buying boat, you will have to know and understand some of the key points to get an agreement done with the other party. No matter what the deal size, you want to ensure everyone is on the same page.

To guide you in drafting your own Sale and Purchase Agreement, we have another article detailing the most important areas you should include on the document. Read more here 

To get a copy of our sample Sale and Purchase Document, click here - it’s similar to one Mariner staff use for buying and selling their own boats. But we are not lawyers so just bear that in mind. If you think it can be improved, let us know!

Insuring your new boat

You can be super careful with your boat, and tick all the safety boxes, but you just can’t cover off all possible eventualities. Having the backing of boat insurance will enable you to relax and enjoy your boat all the more.

Just like car insurance, boat insurance can cover all the things that might happen to your boat like accidental and malicious damage, fire, theft of and from the boat, issues when trailering, and third-party damage.

Why not call upon Trust Pilot’s most recommended NZ boat insurance specialist? Mariner Marine Insurance gives you extra peace of mind on the water with specialist marine insurance cover for all types of boats and watercraft.

Just talk to us and we can build a policy to meet your needs. As a specialist marine insurer, we know no one type of policy fits all watercraft, so we have tailored our cover to suit a range of vessels, and the way you use and store them. Just click here to get a quote online or give us a call on 0800 466 467 to talk boats and insurance quotes!

With boat insurance taken care of you can concentrate on enjoying what boat ownership should be all about…exhilarating, rewarding and fun.