The Columbus New Zealand

Columbus New Zealand, the first all-container ship to visit New Zealand, at Beach Street Wharf, Port Chalmers, on 26 June 1971, before the container terminal was built.

Note the clear decks optimised for container stowage. Most boxes were stowed below, secured by steel cell guides that went deep down into the ship. The ship’s red mobile gantry crane was removed once New Zealand ports had completed their container facilities.

Community contributions

10 comments have been posted about The Columbus New Zealand

What do you know?

Danny Jones

Posted: 30 Oct 2018

Hi would anyone know the Captains Name ? when this ship came to NZ in 71 the captain had his son travelling with him, I was very fortunate to go on board and stay the night with them on board and Detrick came and stayed the night at our dairy farm in Helensville. We were about 12-13 years old I still have a few pictures of that visit also still live here on the farm and often wonder where he is now but have no surname to try and track him down. If anyone can help it would be great thanks.


Posted: 07 May 2017

I have a small brass replica bell that my father got from The Columbus Line. It has Columbus New Zealand 1971 on it.

John Macassey

Posted: 11 Aug 2016

I also worked my passage from Charleston, South Carolina to Port Chalmers, New Zealand in 1982. Was the only 'workaway' with a lovely two birth cabin all to myself. Great crew - both men and women - lots of flying fish, dolphins and a large loan shark. Hit a strong westerly a couple of days west of Panama. Seas coming right over the bow. Almost hit a container floating with only a meter of one end showing out of the water, great food, steady work - tightening turn-buckles, sand blasting and painting decks, hitting rust in air intakes and red leading them, dolphins and thousands of sea birds a from a day or so out of Port Chalmers. Wild night in Colon. Phew!!! what a bar!!! Only one bad job. Clearing a blocked bilge pump. You wouldn't believe the stink. The seaman I was working with and I were only allowed to eat down wind out side on the deck and throw our cotton overalls, which was all we were wearing, overboard at the end of the day. All such a great experience!!!

Eugene Harris

Posted: 12 Dec 2014

I worked on the Columbus Virginia in 87, worked my passage to the states. Fantastic voyage, absolutely loved it and I found the work easy (rust busting on decks). Great stories, massive eruptions of flying fish, massive schools or porpoise and dolphin, sharks, Orca chasing salmon as we hit the coast.


Posted: 15 Aug 2014

For sure, those old ships are no longer in service but Columbus Line is still existing and ( with ships ) bigger than ever. So simply enter 'Columbus Line' or 'Hamburg Sued Shipping Group' into your browser and I´m convinced that you´ll find a lot of interesting information !


Posted: 30 Jul 2014

In 1973, after several months in Australia, I got a job on the Columbus Australia working my passage back to the U.S. A few ports in Australia, 3 in NZ, Panama, Nova Scotia. I got off in NY. A beautiful ship when I was on it, and a great German crew.

Fred rickes

Posted: 21 Jun 2014

I migrated From Germany to Australia in 1981. At that time the Columbus line (when in town) anchored at the Sydney Glebe container terminal. I meet many German sailors and was invited on various occasions on to the ships. One of them was the Columbus Virginia. Does anyone know what happened to the Columbus line? I guess after 30 years none of those ships are longer in service. Thank you

Heinz-Ruediger Schneider

Posted: 07 Mar 2014

Foto should have been taken in the early `70s ( 1972 ... 1975 ) since it´s exactly how it looked when I first came to Port Chalmers with the TS Columbus New Zeland in 1975. I made several voyages with this vessel as ships engineer until 1981 when I quit the merchant marine.

Paul Miller

Posted: 17 Jun 2013

@John Knowles - I also worked on this ship (for passage from NZ to the US) in 1988. Hard work and long days but what an experience. We went east through the Pacific, stopping to pick up a German film crew at Pitcairn, passed through the Panama Canal and broke down in the Bermuda Triangle (adrift for 3 days), before docking at Camden, NJ. Good times....

John Knowles

Posted: 12 Jan 2012

I'm curious what year this photo was taken. My mother and 15 year old brother worked their way to Sydney from Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada on the Columbus New Zealand in 1984. I did the same a year later. It was a wonderful experience. Long days of hard work but we saw some great port cities along the way plus a big storm where we nearly lost a few containers. If anyone has any other stories about this ship, I'd love to hear them. cheers!