Bay of Islands custom boat-builder Bluefix Boatworks is to merge with Ashby’s Boatyard in Opua and move its operation from Kerikeri to new, state-of-the art boat-building and paint shop facilities to be erected on Ashby’s premises. The company will shift its 10 employees to Opua, take on the five boat-builders who currently work there and employ up to 15 additional staff.

The upgrade of the boat-building and paint shop facilities is being undertaken by Far North Holdings, which currently owns both the site and the Ashby’s Boatyard business. The $1 million project will see the construction of a new purpose-built facility with Travellift bays, accessed through roller doors 11m high and 10m wide that allow for under-cover boat-building and repairs all year round.

Bluefix Boatworks specialises in the design and build of custom sports fishing boats. Its business has expanded significantly recently, with orders for large sports fishing boats from both local and international customers and a growing demand for refits and repairs.

“Our shed in Kerikeri is now just too small to enable us to meet the orders we have for our NorthCape series of boats and for our refit, repairs and maintenance services,” said Bluefix Boatworks director Charlotte Rowe.

The move to Opua will give the company more space and immediate access to the water. in addition to its boat-building and other high-end work Bluefix Boatworks will expand the existing repair, refit and maintenance service to local and visiting boat owners.

“World-class boat-building, repair, maintenance and painting facilities are an important part of our long-term plan for Opua,” said Far North Holdings chief executive Andy Nock. “The skills and services offered by the expanding Bluefix Boatworks business will complement the new-look, expanded Bay of Islands Marina and help make the Bay of Islands the upper North Island’s destination of choice for boaties.”

Mr Nock said the merger takes boat-building and repair services in Opua to a completely new level and, along with the marina extension, will be the catalyst for the growth of the marine businesses already based here.

Ross Blackman, Chairman of Far North Holdings, said the current Board had placed a high priority on the upgrade and expansion of the marina and marine services at Opua.

“Maximising the value of existing assets such as the marina, along with seeking out new investment opportunities in the Far North with the aim of enhancing Far North Holding’s balance sheet and return on investment to its shareholder, forms the focus of the board and management team,” Mr Blackman said.

“The development of the Opua marine hub will substantially enhance the landscape and facilities here while also creating employment, two other priorities for our board,” Mr Blackman said.

Construction of the Bluefix Boatworks facility is under way and due for completion by Christmas this year.