Maritime Heritage Site



The New Zealand Ship & Marine Society was formed in 1949 and was comprised of people from all sections of the community and from many different countries who have an interest in ships and maritime activities. 

The website contains a random selection of short articles, a list of maritime books, short histories of shipping companies, the ships and some personalities which trade or have traded to New Zealand, some New Zealand ports, copies of the journal “New Zealand Marine News” and Dr. Watt's Index. 

As an island country, all transport to and from New Zealand before 1930 was by ship. The first settlers arrived by canoe and the European settlers who followed in the 19th century were transported by sailing ship.

Steam ships were slow to arrive in New Zealand because of the great distances between coaling stations. After the frozen meat trade started in 1882, steamships trading overseas increased rapidly, although by that time there were numerous steam vessels trading around the coast and across to Australia.

Many shipping companies were associated with trade to and from New Zealand. Some lasted many years, some did not remain long, some were only one ship companies, but all contributed to the growth of the nation and gave employment to many New Zealanders.

The search facility scans our whole web site.


The Society website was first established by Mark Johnston in February 2000. When he left New Zealand in June 2005, Captain John Brown kindly agreed to become webmaster and to further develop the website, which he did admirably. The original website was extensively revised and redesigned. In December 2014 the website moved over to Recollect and further developed. John Brown put much time and effort into adding photographs and articles into the website, and except for some transient one-call ships, the majority of his work has been retained for history. The Society was formally wound-up on 30 June 2019, but this website is retained as a maritime heritage site for historical maritime information, especially of New Zealand shipping.  



Cowichin BaySPIRIT OF ENDURANCERuahine 1951-1966RINGAROOMA 1878-1901RATA 1929-1958EMPRESS OF BRITIANBRUCE 1875-1875WAITEMATA 1946-1967WAIPA 1875-1895KAITOA 1909-1950Loading CheeseHINAKURA 1949-1966KOOTARA 1952-1975JAMES O'BRIENKAITOA 1956-1971KAHIKA 1915KANNA 1946-1967MAORI 1907-1946 Shipping at WanganuiPORT CHALMERS 1969-1982WAIRIMU 1948-1966PORT WANSTEADMATANGI 1929-1952BluffFull Harbour 1951WAINUI 1930-1958KAIMANAWA 1944-1966Alexander 1903-19501965KONUI 1949-1969KAITAKIMarines ArriveTALUNE 1930-1959HMS RAMILLIESSPIRIT OF CANTERBURYPicton 3 FerriesAMOKURA 1978-1993Wellington 5 FerriesMAUNGANUI 1911 - 1947America StarOtaio 1958-1970ANATOKINAVUA 1904-1926Tongariro 1901-1916WAIMATE 1951-1972WANAKA 1938-1965SPIRIT OF RESOLUTION  1999 - 2012WAHINE 1966 -1968MATUA 1936-1968Otaki 1953-1966