Story: Wellington places

Wahine disaster

Wahine disaster

In the days after the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine sank in Wellington Harbour, Wellington newspapers ran dramatic images of the disaster. On the morning of 10 April 1968 the Wahine was disabled by hurricane-force winds at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. Striking Barrett Reef, the boat sprang a leak and began to capsize. An attempt to tow it to safety failed and everyone abandoned ship. Because of the heavy list, only four of the eight lifeboats could be launched and many of the inflatable life rafts flipped in the stormy seas. 51 people died that day, another died several weeks later and a 53rd victim died in 1990 from injuries sustained in the wreck. The ferry was close to Seatoun, but strong winds drove most of the lifeboats (and people in the water) across to the eastern shore, where huge waves pounded the rocky coast. Many of the victims were drowned and washed ashore there.

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Photograph by Melanie Lovell-Smith

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How to cite this page:

Chris Maclean, 'Wellington places - Wellington Harbour', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/13460/wahine-disaster (accessed 12 November 2019)

Story by Chris Maclean, updated 1 Mar 2016