Steamers at Hokitika, 1866

Steamers at Hokitika, 1866

New Zealand in the 1860s – before the Vogel rail boom of the 1870s – was a maritime frontier, a string of largely isolated coastal enclaves linked by sailing ships and steamers. Sea travel was slow, weather-dependent, and often uncomfortable. New Zealand’s rugged coastline, changeable weather, shifting river bars and exposed anchorages claimed numerous ships and lives.

This photograph shows the screw steamer William Miskin and the paddle-steamer tug Lioness aground at Hokitika in 1866. Both vessels were later wrecked, the William Misken at Timaru on 4 February 1868 and the Lioness at Greymouth on 1 September 1882.

For more information on some of the major shipwrecks in New Zealand history, see our disasters timeline

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