After weeks of planning we finally left Auckland to head South at the beginning of April. My blogging has been slow to start primarily because of a few early hiccups that derailed my intentions. We meandered down the West coast stopping off along the way to visit friends. During a brief stop in Patea we discovered Manu Bay which proved a little more interesting than the initial waves pounding the breakwater wall that attracted us.
Almost 100 years ago the SS Waitangi, a steamer owned by the Patea Co-operative Freezing Company ran aground as it tried to cross the bar into the port of Patea. She hit the rocks and the mouth of the Patea River gashing large holes in her hull. We learned about the wreck thanks to a tip from a local resident, as it’s not visible while standing facing the bay. For many years nothing was visible as the wind and sea had whipped the sand up and over the hull. She only became visible in 2020.
A short walk over the sand dunes and clambering over mounds of broken logs and drift wood, the hull of the ship now sits quite visible above the water line. Today it’s pretty broken, very rusty and as the tides pound the metal, more and more of the hull is eaten away. While on the land side the winds whip the sand and wood into greater piles against the hull.
As I observed the waves on the incoming tide I thought of the sailors who wouldn’t have stood a chance to keep their vessel upright. Much of the vessel was salvaged and some of the timber from the mast and railings was used elsewhere on building sites in Patea.
Today, its the brown and red of the rusty hull that attracts people like us to photograph it and the odd seagull who comes in to land on the railings.