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There’s so many wonderful ways to have an authentic Kiwi experience whilst in New Zealand but one of the best by far would have to be a sail cruise on Lake Rotoiti with Pure Cruise, writes Jill Marshall.
As a non-sailor, I was somewhat apprehensive about having a half day sail with Pure Cruise on their luxurious 53ft catamaran. But I needn’t have worried; it was almost love at first sight. Even tied up to the jetty in Rotorua’s picturesque Okawa Bay, “Tiua’s” sleek lines, pristine white hull and tall mast looked beautiful – her wide deck offering the promise of a fair degree of stability out on the water. Canoes or sea kayaks weren’t part of the onboard “furniture” on my trip, but they can even be with prior arrangement.
Skipper Matt Horder and crew were super welcoming – just the right mix of friendliness and professionalism. He even allows pure novices like me to take the helm; his relaxed “just keep the tails even on the sail” approach instilling immediate confidence. Only later did I learn that Matt is a professional sailor, skipper, marine engineer and holder of an Offshore Yacht Masters Certificate from the Royal Yachting Association of Great Britain, He has logged more than 35,000 nautical miles of offshore yachting in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Pacific Ocean during personal sailing trips, international yacht deliveries and skippering private luxury yachts.
His business partner, Tina Masters, has an equally impressive background. Holding a Masters in Business Studies and a Bachelor of Phys Ed/Sport Science, Tina is a former teacher, outdoor instructor, and lecturer in sports science and physical education. She also has a strong background in both coastal and offshore sailing and boating.
It not surprising that these two, along with their partners, got together to start a yacht charter business on Lake Rotoiti to showcase one of Rotorua’s most scenic and historically rich lakes. After long search to find a suitable boat, the catamaran was discovered on the Caribbean island of Grenada. Matt and Tina, along with some friends, sailed the yacht 9000 nautical miles to her new home in New Zealand. Along the way she was renamed, Tiua, which means “to move with the wind” in Maori. A complete overhaul and refurbishment followed, and then the company was ready to launch into its first season in 2009.
Ardent believers in quality, service, safety and sustainability, Pure Cruise quickly set about gaining Qualmark Activity Endorsement (a national quality assurance benchmark) and Qualmark Enviro Silver. They further benchmarked themselves by entering the 2010 Rotorua Business Excellence Awards and winning the Emerging Business Award. Tina tells me they have entered the award again this year and have high hopes of making the finals of the Hospitality and Attractions category this time around.
Their passionate belief in what Lake Rotoiti has to offer – plus the need to deliver in all areas of the business - shines through. They don’t just say they can do it, they do it! Whether it’s being true to their sustainability principles, ensuring guests enjoy the best of fresh, New Zealand cuisine, following through with great service or partnering with other high quality products to offer exciting combo products - these guys deliver on their promise. A quick look at their comments folder reveals masses of impressed clients from big corporates to family groups, former yachties to guests from luxury lodges. The cherry on top is that almost without exception, people want to come back for more.
My experience made me keen to go out on ‘Tuia’ again. Maybe this time I’ll try a summer sunset sail. Sipping a glass of chilled New Zealand sauvignon blanc whilst gently nudging our way up the lake as the sun sets and turns Rotoiti’s normally deep blue water into molten gold sounds awfully romantic to me. Then again the morning soak ‘n’ sail would be pretty special on a crisp autumn day. Or maybe we could get together with friends and charter the whole boat and enjoy a full day exploring Rotoiti’s many hidden gems; that way there would be time to try a couple of hours of trout fishing as well as enjoying a leisurely soak in the hot thermal pools at Manupirua Springs. Only accessible by boat, the rustic lake-edge pools are a special treat. I highly recommend a lovely hot soak then jumping into the cool water of the lake. Bracing but worth repeating a few times for absolute bliss, especially if you’ve been brave enough to have a go at some of Pure Cruise’s optional add-on water-sport opportunities like rafting and sea kayaking.
Magic . . . and as Kiwi as can be!