InterCity (New Zealand)

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InterCity (New Zealand)
InterCity (New Zealand) logo.png
Slogan New Zealand all over
Locale New Zealand
Service area New Zealand
Service type Long-distance bus service
Website intercity.co.nz
2007 73 seat Kiwi Bus Builders body[1] on Scania chassis[2] at Rotorua in 2013 on 601km Wellington to Auckland route.

InterCity Group (NZ) Ltd is a passenger transport and tourism company and operates New Zealand's largest bus network and ferries and cruises in the Bay of Islands. It has several brands:

  • InterCity, New Zealand's largest bus network, servicing around 600 towns and communities daily
  • Newmans Coach Lines, slightly more up-market, between major cities and major tourist centres
  • InterCity Link on secondary feeder routes
  • GreatSights New Zealand premium sightseeing coach services
  • awesomeNZ.com (formerly Kings Dolphin Cruises and Eco Tours) sightseeing tours and boat cruises for the more intrepid traveller
  • Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands coach and boat sightseeing services in the Bay of Islands
  • Hauraki Blue Cruises cruise ship based in Auckland

Ownership[edit]

InterCity Group (NZ) Ltd is controlled by Tranzit Group of Masterton, New Zealand and Ritchies Transport of Timaru. Tranzit is owned by the Snelgrove family and Ritchies by the Ritchie family. Nelson SBL also has a small stake in InterCity.[3]

History[edit]

InterCity is the direct successor to New Zealand Railways Road Services long-distance routes. New Zealand Railways' rail and road services were combined in 1985 as the Passenger Business Group of the New Zealand Railways Corporation. InterCity began in 1987 as the brand for long-distance rail and road services.

In 1991 the rail-based assets were transferred to New Zealand Rail Limited and the long-distance buses and InterCity name were bought by InterCity Management Limited, a group of seven of the country's largest private coach companies - Whangarei Bus Services, Bayline Group, Ritchies Transport Holdings, Tranzit Group, Guthreys Coachlines, Nelson SBL and PTL Route Services - as a franchise-based operation. Each of the franchisees is responsible for operating set routes, usually close to their home base. Of the original seven franchisees four remain, with one new franchisee (SDK Ltd) operating services in Northland where Whangarei Bus Services previously held the franchise.

Over the years the company name has changed from InterCity Coachlines Ltd to Coachnet NZ Ltd, followed by InterCity Group Ltd and most recently InterCity Holdings Ltd.

Trademark Protection[edit]

In 2014 InterCity Group won a landmark Google Adwords case against competitor Nakedbus in the Auckland High Court for breach of trade mark.[4]

Justice Raynor Asher ruled that Nakedbus deliberately infringed InterCity Group Limited’s trade mark ‘INTERCITY’, engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct that confused consumers, and illegitimately attempted to pass its business off as InterCity’s.

Nakedbus ran advertisements on Google which would respond to searches for InterCity Group’s trade mark, INTERCITY, and which promoted Nakedbus buses as “inter city” in both the advertisements and on the corresponding website. The Court has confirmed that this was part of a misleading strategy to “hook” InterCity customers into travelling to the Nakedbus website, using InterCity’s trade mark to confuse them into thinking that Nakedbus was some sort of affiliate.

Nakedbus argued that the words “inter” and “city” were just descriptors for domestic bus services. This argument was emphatically rejected by the Court. It recognised that ‘InterCity’ is a distinctive and well known New Zealand brand which is entitled to the usual statutory protections.

Newmans Coach Lines[edit]

Newmans Coach Lines logo.png

Newmans Coach Lines began in 1879 with brothers Tom and Harry Newman offering a horse-drawn coach service delivering mail around the Nelson region. The business grew rapidly and expanded to include passenger services, at first throughout the South Island and later into the North Island. In 1911 the first motor vehicle - a four-cylinder Cadillac - was introduced and in 1918 the last horse-drawn carriage was retired from service.

Newmans remained a family-owned business until 1972 when it merged with Transport (Nelson) Ltd, a trucking and mining company. There followed a period of expansion where the Newmans brand encompassed tours, rental cars and campervans and a short-lived airline brand Newmans Air which evolved into Ansett New Zealand.

In 1988 Corporate Investments Limited took over the business and several routes were withdrawn. In 1991 an agreement was reached where competitor Mount Cook Group ceased operating in the North Island and Newmans ceased operating in the South Island. This step was not enough and in 1992 TTRB Ltd, a consortium of four coach operators (Tranzit Group, Taranaki Coachlines, Ritchies Transport Holdings and Bayline Group), took over Newmans Coach Lines. By 1994 two of the consortium members had withdrawn and the remaining two shareholders Tranzit and Ritchies operated it as a separate business until the Auckland Power Crisis in 1998 when Newmans was integrated into the InterCity Group business.

From 1995 to 2007 the Newmans brand was used on both sightseeing day tours and passenger route services. From 2008 the Newmans brand was withdrawn from sightseeing day tours in favour of GreatSights, but many Newmans coach services still visit popular tourist destinations including Napier, Queenstown, Wanaka and the West Coast glaciers.

Expansion[edit]

In 2006 InterCity Group purchased Kings Dolphin Cruises, a Paihia based operator of sightseeing cruises and day tours. This purchase was InterCity's first foray beyond road passenger transport services. It also increased InterCity's exposure to the tourism market.

InterCity's footprint in the tourism market increased again in December 2007 when it added the Tourism Holdings Limited Ltd businesses of Great Sights and Fullers Bay of Islands by way of a joint venture.[5] In December 2008 Tourism Holdings sold its 49% stake in InterCity Holdings Limited to InterCity Group for $9.5m.[3]

GreatSights New Zealand[edit]

GreatSights New Zealand logo

GreatSights New Zealand is InterCity Group's daily sightseeing subsidiary operating day tours and sightseeing from Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch and Queenstown to the Bay of Islands, the Waitomo Caves, Rotorua, Aoraki, Te Anau and Milford Sound.

GreatSights was formed in October 1987 following acquisition of the coach assets of Fourways Coachlines by various Newmans Group companies and was subsequently taken over by Corporate Investments Limited (CIL), then in 1993 by The Helicopter Line (later renamed Tourism Holdings Ltd, THL).

Glass-roofed double-decker Volvo B12 coaches were introduced onto the Milford Sound route in 1996.

In 1998 THL purchased a number of assets from Mount Cook Group including the Gray Line New Zealand franchise, which GreatSights operated until 2006.

In 2000 GreatSights opened a visitor information centre at 180 Quay Street, Auckland. This became the departure point for all GreatSights day tours from Auckland. The centre was closed following InterCity's acquisition of GreatSights, as InterCity already operated a similar visitor information centre on Hobson Street. Also as a result of the acquisition, in April 2008 the Newmans Coach Lines brand gradually began to be removed from routes that were operated by GreatSights.

In recent years GreatSights has enjoyed strong growth in line with rising visitor arrivals into New Zealand. A number of new routes and tour options have been added to the network including a new Waitomo & Rotorua tour in 2009. GreatSights launched a new Wellington city "hop on hop off" tour in September 2010.[1]

Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands[edit]

Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands is InterCity Group's tourism and ferry transport business based in the Bay of Islands. It operates from a visitor centre in the Maritime Building on Paihia's waterfront as well as a visitor centre in Russell and a workshop in Opua.[6]

The Fullers business was founded in 1886 when Albert Ernest Fuller started a business delivering coal and other essential supplies to islands in the Bay of Islands in his vessel the Undine. Fuller branched out into tourism in 1927 when he started the Cream Trip service transporting cream from the islands to the mainland. Tourists would pay to ride on the Cream Trip and over time the focus of the service changed from deliveries and transport to one of sightseeing and tourism.[7]

The business expanded substantially over the years and today its primary focus is tourism although it does also operate passenger and vehicle ferries. The Fullers product range includes:[8]

In 2009 Fullers Bay of Islands was rebranded Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands, providing connection to InterCity's sightseeing tours in the rest of New Zealand, and a new awesomeNZ brand was introduced. The Kings Dolphin Cruises, Northern Exposure and Awesome Adventures brands were removed. AwesomeNZ branded excursions include Ninety Mile Beach day tours and Milford Sound day tours.

Hauraki Blue Cruises[edit]

In 2009 Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands launched the cruise catamaran Ipipiri, a 44.5m (146 foot) vessel with four levels including sundeck, restaurant and bar, and 30 ocean view cabins offering accommodation for up to 60. Ipipiri operated in the Bay of Islands for five seasons as an overnight cruise ship and was available for conferences, events and weddings.

In 2014 Ipipiri was relocated to Auckland[9] and now trades as Hauraki Blue Cruises under the GreatSights brand. As well as overnight cruises it offers lunch cruises and is available for weddings, conferences and events and multi-day charters in the Hauraki Gulf.

Environmental Projects[edit]

InterCity Group has embarked on a number of sustainability projects since 1998.[10]

Ritchies Coachlines Intercity depot in Dunedin

In May 2007 Intercity joined Landcare Research's carboNZero programme[11] but withdrew when the New Zealand Government introduced an Emissions Trading Scheme.

In 2010 InterCity's Bay of Islands operations were awarded an Enviro Gold[12] rating by Qualmark. Its Coaching division currently holds a Qualmark Enviro Silver rating.[13]

References[edit]

External links[edit]