KiwiKraft 780HT Overnighter
There is something about the South Island that’s made it the home of tough, alloy pontoon boats. KiwiKraft’s newest model (and its biggest production boat), continues the trend, adding a level of comfort not always seen on these tough workhorses.
- KiwiKraft’s latest model – the 780HT Overnighter – is a big boat designed for the serious fisherman who wants a vessel suited to extended trips.
- The ride is stable and dependable without any handling surprises.
- The cockpit is large, easily able to accommodate half a dozen chaps, and the thigh-height gunwales provide great security.
- A 280-litre under-floor fuel tank provides good range for the Evinrude, more than 150 nautical miles at cruising speed.
- The KiwiKraft holds a very tight turn, and the pontoons minimise the heeling. Steering is a pleasure.
KiwiKraft’s 780HT Overnighter is dominated by the extended hardtop, which has a lockable, full-height sliding door to the cockpit that effectively keeps the elements outside.
The boat is mated to Evinrude’s latest 300hp ETEC – an economical 3.4-litre V6, which is also the lightest engine in its class on the market, adding just 240kg to the overall weight.
Hull construction is 5mm marine-grade aluminium. The roll-forming technology and variable deadrise allows for a finer entry than most pontoon boats. Two full-length planing strakes are pressed into the hull during this process, rather than welded on, making for a very smooth hull.
The pontoons that give the boat its distinctive shape are pressure-tested, and separated into nine watertight compartments. The KiwiKraft pontoons form part of the riding section of the hull, and do not fully lift out of the water while underway.
The forward cabin contains two bunks, and with an infill they give a wide double berth. Under the bunks is a large dry storage area.
Cabin sides and roof are fully-lined for warmth and soundproofing, and a large polycarbonate hatch lets in light and air.
The bench seat in the main cabin converts into a third sleeping berth, and does double duty as the dining room thanks to the removable table which drops into a slot under the squab.
Under the bench is a 12-volt fridge/freezer and a two-burner self-lighting SMEV propane cooker.
It’s a well set up helm station, with the dash dominated by Furono’s Navnet VX2 display. This 8" daylight-readable colour screen handles chartplotter, sonar and radar displays. Mounted on the dash above it are the i-Command electronic gauges.
Music is available from a Sony marine stereo system (complete with iPod docking station), and mounted alongside is a VHF.
The helm seat is a fully-upholstered, strut-mounted model, and accompanied by a footrest. Sliding windows on either side of the cabin can be opened wide for airflow, but provide a secure, watertight seal when closed. The entire cabin interior is fully-lined with grey carpet to provide warmth and noise dampening.
In the large cockpit, gunwales are broad and comfortable for sitting, and each side carries a number of rod-holders. Tube matting over checkerplate floor guarantees secure footing.
A transom step-through is on the port side, with a livebait tank (complete with viewing window) under the step-through section. A large baitboard clips onto the sturdy bracket in the centre of the transom. Batteries are hidden in the transom.
A rocket launcher above the cab will carry a further six rods, and outrigger mounts are fitted to either side of the cab.
A 280-litre under-floor fuel tank provides good range for the Evinrude. Though we did not test fuel consumption, dealer figures put fuel consumption at around 40 litres per hour at a cruising speed of 20-22 knots. This gives the boat a range of more than 150 nautical miles at cruising speed.
On the water
Throwing the boat around at various speeds pointed to the efficacy of those planing strakes – the boat holds a very tight turn, and the pontoons minimise the heeling.
The steering is light and positive – an excellent hydraulic system. The flush-mounted throttle control is also ultra light and easy to use. It’s a conventional cable system, but it feels like an electronic unit.
Despite the boat weighing around two tonnes (with a full fuel tank) the Evinrude gets it up on the plane within seconds. The two-stroke engine revs up very quickly, and combined with its low-end torque, the performance is nothing short of phenomenal.
KiwiKraft calls its hull technology "HUSHtec", and driving at speed through the conditions, it’s easy to see why. The fine entry bow slices through the waves, so you seldom get airborne.
Engine noise is never intrusive, even at full speed. Closing the back door brought the noise level down even further.
This is a great boat, ideally suited to its stated purpose of overnighting for a family or a couple of mates. It is comfortable and safe – even in adverse conditions, and economical to operate.
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Specifications KiwiKraft 780 HT
(Price as reviewed $171,000)
Construction Marine grade alloy
Engine 300hp V6 Evinrude ETEC
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