Soon there may be no need to stop at the water's edge, if the ultimate toy for the bush and the beach goes on sale here next year. Developed by Gibbs Sports Amphibian - founded and owned by Kiwi Alan Gibb - the Quadski single-seater is an all-terrain vehicle that transforms into something akin to a jetski.
At $40,000 the amphibian amusement is not going to come cheap but when you consider it's two vehicles in one, perhaps the pricetag looks a little less daunting. While there have been other amphibious vehicles, none have been able to achieve speeds of up to 70km/h on both land and water.
"You just drive straight into the water, quite fast, and keep on going. It's sort of magic," company founder Alan Gibbs says. "We'll respond to how the market develops ... we wouldn't be doing it without being very confident that people will love them," he says.
It's powered by a 104kW BMW K1300 motorcycle engine which drives the rear wheels on land; when driven into the water it takes just four seconds to tuck the wheels up. The Quadski then sits on its fibreglass composite hull and uses an in-house waterjet to propel it.
At 3.2m long and 1.6m wide it's longer and heavier than a conventional ATV; the dry weight - pardon the pun - is 535kg. The company is also working on larger models that would also have military applications.
Gibbs Sports Amphibians was founded 16 years ago and has since reportedly spent more than US$200 million on the project, building nine prototypes and registering more than 300 patents. It's not the first amphibious vehicle developed by the company -- the Aquada high-speed amphibious vehicle claims top speeds over 160km/h on land and 50km/h on water.
It was used by Sir Richard Branson to set a new record - 1 hour 40 minutes - for crossing the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle. The company has also developed the 4WD Phibian - which can carry up to 12 passengers or 1500kg of cargo and is designed primarily with military applications in mind.
Also in the development pipeline is the Humdinga II, a supercharged V8 4WD vehicle that can seat up to seven and is also a vehicle designed with emergency services in mind. The Quadski amphibious vehicle will be made at the company's Michigan factory (formerly a Daewoo plant). The company is aiming to sell as many as 1000 a year once full production (at a rate of 20 vehicles per day) gets underway.