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While the pontoon boat market in the USA is one of the fastest growing sectors, it is almost unheard of in New Zealand. Well, now, Kiwis have a chance to experience this very different style of boat with the introduction of the US-built Bennington range. Barry Thompson went to Taupo to check out the 25 QSB, the flagship of the Bennington fleet.  

Firstly I need to explain the term ‘pontoon’. In New Zealand, we refer to pontoon boats generally as rigid hulled aluminium chambered boats, mostly in alloy, that typically have tubed sides. The first hull to claim this status was the Stabicraft 3.5 dinghy built in 1987. Today, dozens of manufacturers do Kiwi-style pontoon boats with more than 100 models.

Bennington was founded in 1997, and since the beginning, the company have focused on leading in innovation and design with meticulous attention to detail and quality. Step aboard the 25 QSB, and it is easy to see they mean business, and I can understand why they are one of the industry leaders, building 55 boats a day. 

The curved bow and forward-facing arch give the 25 QSB an unmistakable silhouette that sets it apart. While this is a proper party boat, it is still well formatted to be appreciated by Kiwi buyers that will see it as a family boat.

The first two Benningtons to arrive in New Zealand in early 2023 were the 21 SXSR and the 25QSB, brought in through new Australasian dealer, Polaris New Zealand. Retail Development Manager Craig Tillson says the Q range is one of Bennington’s flagship models developed on a bigger platform, so you can get many more people aboard and make it more of a family boat.

Being sold throughout New Zealand by Trev Terry Marine, MD, Brock Terry said the first time he ran the Benningtons, he felt they performed far better than he thought they would. “They steer and turn well, are super stable, and while they are exposed, I have had both boats out on some very choppy and windy conditions on Lake Taupo and Lake Wanaka, and they were as dry as any monohull”,says Brock.


To understand the difference between Bennington and other pontoon manufacturers, you need to start with the construction methods. Bennington uses what they refer to as their thru-bolt technology on each hull. This system ensures far less flex, plus thick cross channels provide extra vertical strength. Combined with their extruded M-deck brackets and flange bolted deck construction, this minimises twisting and assists in a solid and quiet ride.

The 25 Q Series has various hull options and provides different running surfaces, pontoon diameters, shapes and sizes suitable for multiple applications. Our boat had what they call a ‘tri-toon’ hull configuration which is essential a cat with a centre pontoon.

This ESP Sport Performance package has running surfaces engineered for peak performance and ride quality. The fully integrated platform boasts two circular 635mm outer tubes and an elliptical 813mm tube in the centre. Constructed of 3mm gauge aluminium, each tube is internally reinforced with stringers and bulkheads. The central tube has a lifting strake on either side, while the outside pods have internal performance foils. All three have solid keels, so you have plenty of protection bringing the boat up onto a beach or rough surface. Engineered for higher horsepower applications and rated up to 450 hp, ESP is optional on select outboard models and standard on 2.6m wide twin-engine and sterndrive models.

Bennington has done a lot of development to bring a performance type pontoon boat into the market for various boating applications.

Whatever hull form you choose, they all offer unprecedented stability and buoyancy. 


There are two models in the Q Line series; the single-engine 25 QSBWA and the twin-engine 27 QSBA. The single-engine models are rated for up to 600 hp, with twin-engine configurations boosting a maximum of 900 hp.

Bennington understands that not everyone wants the same layout, so they offer many options. Once you have settled on a floor plan, the seating can be altered to suit your entertainment needs. Swingback is an innovative floor plan that enables dual seating capabilities by allowing you to face forward or backwards depending on the position of the furniture.

Featuring a quad bench seat format, one of the most popular layouts in the Q Series, the configuration maximises seating, storage and lounging space while still leaving a starboard side access to the aft deck. The five-position swing back seating layout allows multiple seating and lounging positions, all flanked with speakers and drink holders. You can also fold the backrest down so you have one large sunpad.

There is ample storage under the rear seating, plus a pop-up privacy enclosure, perfect as a changing space, or it can be fitted with a portable head.

Twin adjustable bucket seats bring the cockpit seating aft to 5-6, and with the seats swung around, you have a great entertaining space. After all, this is a party boat. The starboard helm is superbly dressed with a single MFD in the centre and all the necessary controls and switches conveniently placed.  

With every available space used, storage has not been forgotten in the Bennington. Such as large lockers in the mid console, under the forward loungers, underfloor and around the transom. A cool feature is the portable drink holders that can be positioned anywhere around the lounge seating.

The Q Model has a flowing design that’s both inviting and functional. There’s a port side gate and a bow gate onto a short foredeck which makes getting aboard the 25 QSB great from a marina, dock or off the beach. 

While you might call the Bennington a bowrider, it’s more than that. It does have an open bow and seating on either side, but the big difference is it has a walk-through bow onto a short foredeck. Surrounding the bow is a stylish fibreglass fairing, with alloy panels running all the to the transom on either side. There is storage here for the anchor tackle, ropes and fenders.

A stowable sculpted rectangular bow table is also provided with more drink holders. I was impressed with the quality and presentation of the upholstery, from the double stitching in the seats and side panels to the carpet and embossed company logos that reminded me of Bentley. The furniture style and accents all blend well with the Sunset Red exterior. As a slogan I saw says, “There are pontoon boats, and then there are Benningtons!”


The 25 QSB comes with a forward facing fibreglass bimini arch that looks racey and gives the boat a certain character. The electrically operated bimini affords extra weather protection in the cockpit, with another available for the bow area. Sorry, but you’re open to the elements if you are sitting in the bow. 


Lake Taupo is a beautiful venue to review boats, and it was the perfect setting for the Bennington. I envisioned the ride being like a powercat that would lean outboard on the turns. So I was surprised that it felt no different from a conventional mono hull. The ride and handling felt precisely the same, but it shone when it came to hard turns. The tri-hull doesn’t heel at all and stays perfectly level and flat. 

Plus, it is not susceptible to weight distribution. To illustrate just how level the hull rides, with 110 kgs of passenger weight moved forward to one side of the bow, there was no appreciable difference to the boat trim at speed. Stability at rest is unquestionable, and with three pontoons, the Bennington 25 is virtually unsinkable.

From the helm position, it doesn’t feel any different than driving a large bowrider, and while I was on a calm lake, I thought it would handle itself in a reasonably choppy sea. Craig said he had run the boat on a rough day on Lake Taupo and was surprised at how well it coped with the conditions. I am not sure how it would handle a rough Hauraki Gulf chop, but I would certainly like to try it.

The central pod is designed to deliver solid water to the propeller, so there is plenty of bite. When I pushed the throttle down, the boat quickly accelerated, and there was a minimal transition (hump) onto the plane. It’s like it’s already planning at rest. With the Yamaha 250 I saw 37 knots on the Simrad Go9. The boat felt just right, cruising around 4500 rpm @ 27.5 knots. Unfortunately, we could not record any fuel data due to a fuel reading issue.

If the boat is loaded with people, getting on the plane and maintaining a reasonable cruise speed is effortless. The three hulls provide buoyancy and keep the boat stable and level.


Bennington’s bold, forward-thinking design puts the pontoon boat on a whole new level of acceptance. It combines the best of a pontoon boat and the most coveted attributes of a fibreglass bowrider. Graig admits that it will take some time for Kiwis to understand and accept this ‘new’ boating style, but he is confident there is a market in some regions of the country. Party boat or family boat, the Bennington 25 has it covered.

Performance Data :  Yamaha 250 Vmax SHO


Note: Range is based on 90% of fuel capacity, in calm conditions.


  • Design Name Bennington 25 QSB
  • Price $NZ349,990
  • Year Launched 2023
  • Builder Bennington
  • Designer Bennington
  • Hull Type Pontoon
  • LOA 8.30m
  • Beam 2.60m
  • Height on Trailer 2.80m          
  • Trailerable Wght kg
  • Max Speed 37 knots
  • Construction Alloy Hull / Fibreglass Deck
  • Fuel Cap 140 litres      
  • Engine Yamaha 250 Vmax SHO
  • Propeller
  • MFD Simrad Go9
  • Ent System Rockford PMX-2       

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