Coastal settlements were visited by a ‘mosquito fleet’ of boats that carried freight (and sometimes passengers). Rivers like the Heathcote in Christchurch were busy thoroughfares, dotted with wharves and drop-off points. Ten- and 20-ton vessels loaded off beaches. Cargoes varied. In 1877, the 21-ton ketch XXX (also the name of a local beer) carried a cargo of 20 sacks of mats, seven garden seats and one case of lamps, earning £4 4s. 6d. The return-voyage cargo was 37 bales of wool, 196 sheepskins, nine hides and five bags of fat, for a charge of £14 6s. 4d. Smaller vessels like the XXX would sometimes carry refrigerated meat and dairy products directly to overseas ships at Lyttelton or Timaru, or berth at the ‘freezer wharf’ below the meat works at Kaiapoi.
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Source: Les Daw, The tidal travellers: the small ships of Canterbury. Christchurch: A & M Publishers, 1991, pp. 32, 82