THE NEW ZEALAND MARITIME RECORD
|Arahanga 1972 - 2001
MV Arahanga, was the
workhorse of New Zealand's Tranz Rail ferry fleet for 28 years. She was
essentially a cargo ferry also transporting railway wagons and
line-haul trucks, but if there was spare space (and there usually was)
they would put cars on as well. The specialist cargo ferry, whose
name in Maori means "bridge or ladder", had a fairly uneventful life,
making her first commercial crossing of Cook Strait on the 6th December
1972. Her old-fashioned quirks included teak decking and a narrow
beam, but she was a rugged performer with good sea-keeping
Yard number 111's most dramatic moments were during her construction. The $NZ8 million ship was the last vessel to come out of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders' yard in Scotland. The yard went into liquidation when the ferry was only partly finished. Rather than joining the dole queue, the yard workers decided to finish the contract themselves.
The liquidator allowed them to carry on after the New Zealand Government guaranteed payment to component suppliers. In a desperate bid to hold onto their jobs as long as possible, the workers did everything they could to delay construction, including setting fire to the ship. The yard eventually handed the ferry over to NZ Railways in October 1972, 10 months behind schedule. Arahanga became the first ferry managed and crewed by NZ Railways staff. The Union Steam Ship Company ran her predecessors - Aramoana and Aranui.
Initially built to carry only 40 passengers, she was refitted in 1984 to accommodate 100.
In October, 2000 she underwent a survey, which showed
significant corrosion in her road and rail decks. Unable to
accommodate wide-bodied rail wagons or tall road vehicles and coupled with
her poor turning circle for trucks her trouble free career ended.
The last of her 32,662 voyages was from Picton to Wellington on the
27th March 2001.
Thanks to T. R. Collinge and Marcus Castell.
This page is part of the Inter-Island Ferries section of the
New Zealand Maritime Record
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