The South Island’s east coast had a number of ferry services in the 1870s. Running between regional centres like Dunedin and Ōamaru, they were well patronised. The Union Steam Ship Company, which dominated the coastal trade, also ran several mixed passenger and cargo vessels along the coast, travelling between provinces and even to Australia. The Company’s very healthy profit was attributed by director James Mills to ‘the great passenger traffic doing on the coast’. Running to a regular timetable, these ships were de facto ferries.
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Reference: Timaru Herald February 1872 and February 1877; Otago Witness, February 1877
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