Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




Steamships were not long in coming to New Zealand. The first Maori war brought HMS Driver, a sloop, to Auckland in January 1846, the first steamship to come to the colony. She was a paddle-wheel craft of 1,058 tons displacement brig-rigged with a 280 h.p. engine and armed with two 68–pounder and two 84–pounder guns. More important, however, was HM surveying ship Acheron which, with HM brig Pandora, charted the coasts between 1848 and 1855. This vessel was a barque rigged, five-gun paddle-wheel sloop of 722 tons which had been launched at Sheerness in 1838. The Acheron was 150 ft long and had a beam of 33 ft. She carried a crew of 100. She was the first surveying vessel in these waters to be fitted with auxiliary power – an engine developing 170 h.p. This proved of great assistance in the work of surveying the west coast of the South Island but she also charted the major portion of the coast and harbours. She gave her name to the deep (Acheron) passage between Dusky and Breaksea Sounds. Following her period in New Zealand waters, she worked on the New South Wales coast until sold in Sydney during 1855 for £2,500. During the New Zealand survey, the captain of the Acheron was John Lort Stokes.

Next Part: DUNEDIN