On arrival in Rotorua, Ngaroto was launched and undertook her maiden voyage on Saturday 24th September 1955 for Judd and Jean Davy who had commissioned her construction in Great Britain.
She was licenced by Maritime NZ to carry 117 passengers (as a Million Dollar Cruise boat she was licenced for 49 passengers) and had a Foden 120 HP Diesel engine and because of her riveted and welded construction was expected to have a life expectancy of 50 years (after a huge refurbishment by Million Dollar Cruise it has now been 66 years!! And still going strong).
The Primary role was trips to Mokoia Island and the famed hot water pool of Hinemoa. Further to the adult patrons, she also took many school children and Guides and Scouts on excursions to Mokoia Island.Evening excursions slowly evolved as private business ‘drinks’ cruises became more common.
By the mid 1980’s Ngaroto had 2hr Mokoia Island cruises scheduled at 10am and 2pm. A lunch cruise was also included offering meats, salads and cheesecake all for $25.00, $10.00 for children. They also had a BBQ cruise at 7pm returning 10pm. (very busy schedule indeed!!) Full bar facilities were available on board and extra private cruises could be arranged.
The proprietors were now Bryan and Robyn Coleman who had purchased Ngaroto off the Davy’s some years prior.
This happy situation continued until the late 1990’s when the landing charges at Mokoia Island escalated to prohibitive levels. Ngaroto was then sold to the new operators to Mokoia Island, however she soon fell into utter disrepair and was bought by Wayne and Betty Perkins in early 2007 as a semi derelict hulk.
But that’s another story about the start of the Million Dollar Cruise.