Restoring the Steam Ferry Toroa
Last survivor of the steam ferries of Auckland, New Zealand
Welcome to our new Toroa Preservation Society website
Our new site tells the story of the Toroa and her restoration as we work towards returning her to steam operation as a heritage excursion ferry, carrying passengers on Auckland’s glorious Waitemata Harbour.
Auckland’s first steam ferry was launched in 1860. The last scheduled crossing of the Harbour by a steam ferry was by Toroa in 1980—120 years of the city’s maritime, commercial and social history are represented by this sole steam-ferry survivor. It is imperative that the last tangible piece of this heritage should survive and flourish.
The restoration of the Toroa is an enormous undertaking demanding specialist knowledge, practical skills and dedication. The extent of the work is vast—it’s an endeavour with a long view.
The restoration project team has a core of experts and a small crew of committed volunteers. More are needed to help us return Toroa to the integral involvement with Auckland life that this ferry, and all the harbour ferries, used to have.
We’ve raised funds to have her hauled out for restoration, created a restoration yard, taken off her lines and construction, written a conservation plan, engaged expert staff, rebuilt the wheelhouses and replaced most of her 40 tons of steel framing. To finish her we need money, small donations and large dollops. The speed of the restoration depends on how fast the funds can be raised. Every bit, large and small, makes a difference.
The Society very gratefully acknowledges the funding and support that has gone into the restoration so far, and welcomes all the future contributions that we hope this website will help to inspire. Call us to arrange a tour to see what we have done so far—Toroa is being rebuilt from the bottom up and the inside out and the work is not readily visible to the passer-by.
As well as financial and physical help, keeping the steam ferry heritage alive needs your memories. Did you commute aboard the ferries to work or school? Were you a wharf-jumper; a euchre-school regular; a mother with babies in the Ladies’ Cabin? Were you a crew member—skipper, deckhand, engineer or stoker? Have you photographs or memorabilia of steam ferry days? Do you know the whereabouts of gear and fittings from the passenger ferries?
If the answer is yes to any of this, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch.
Our thanks to Peter McCurdy and EDMO Central for setting up this website, and to all involved in this and the previous versions. As with any website there will initially be bugs and errors—please let us know about anything that is not quite as it should be.
And we hope you will be inspired to get involved in whatever way you can to preserve our steam and ferry heritage and to help to restore the unique Toroa, the last of her kind.
Heading Photo: A shipshape and shiny Toroa, returned to service after a refit in 1973. Photo © Barry Davis