On the morning of 10 April 1968 the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine was blown off course by a severe storm after its steering failed as it attempted to enter Wellington Harbour. When the ship struck Barrett Reef, its starboard propeller was ripped off. With its port engine also disabled, the ship foundered at Steeple Rock, off Seatoun. As water flooded the car deck, the ship began to capsize. In the early afternoon the captain gave the order to abandon ship. Not all made it safely ashore. Of the 734 passengers and crew on the ship, 51 died.
A memorial park on Wellington’s south coast and a permanent exhibition at Wellington Museum recall the tragic events of ‘Wahine Day’.
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