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This website is developed from the site originally conceived developed & maintained by Marcus Castell and associates. Opinions are those of the various authors of the articles, and are not those of the NZ National Maritime Museum unless specifically noted. Information in this site has been updated to 2002 and will be progressively updated as resources allow. More information on historic ships (etc) is contained in the MARITIME INDEX website
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 qualities. 

Beam 18.7 metres
Length 127.5 metres
Maximum draft 4.78 metres
Two S.E.M.T. Pielstick PC2-12v 400 diesels providing 5,000 HP at 520 RPM
Cruising speed 17 knots


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.
On the 12th of May 2001 Arahanga set course for one of the three hundred Indian breaker's yards on Alang Beach.


Thanks to T. R. Collinge and Marcus Castell.

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