Historic boat runs aground in Canterbury

  • 28/09/2015
The 29-metre schooner was built in 1919
The 29-metre schooner was built in 1919

By Sarah Robson and Dave Williams

A historic schooner stranded off a beach north of Christchurch has sustained so much damage to its hull it's been written off.

The 94-year-old tourist attraction MV Tuhoe grounded at the mouth of the Waimakariri River yesterday afternoon. It was returning to Kaiapoi after having $200,000 worth of restoration work done at the Port of Lyttelton.

Waimakariri-Ashley Coastguard president John Thompson says while locals were hopeful it could be refloated, an assessment deemed the damage was too great.

The Tuhoe has now been pulled up "high and dry" and all its fuel and anything that could float has been taken off it.

"It's a terrible shock to the people of Kaiapoi," Mr Thompson told NZ Newswire this evening.

Tomorrow, memorabilia and other valuable items will continue to be packed up and taken off the boat.

The Tuhoe had grounded at the river mouth only once before, in 1963, but Mr Thompson said when boats worked the Waimakariri River in the past groundings were quite common.

The boat was acquired by the MV Tuhoe Kaiapoi Rivertown Trust in 2004 and it sailed passengers along the Kaiapoi and Waimakariri rivers from October to June.

Trust maintenance volunteer Darren Ball says the boat grounded after a "strong wind blew it off course".

The 29-metre schooner, named after the Urewera tribe, was built in Auckland in 1919 and initially sailed between Auckland, Tauranga and Whakatane.

During World War II it was sold to the US Navy and worked off the Australian and New Guinea coasts.

She worked for the Kaiapoi Shipping Company 1962 and 1963 but has since been used as a floating art gallery and boating club rooms before being restored.