Past Events



KERIKERI STEAMUP 25 26 November 2006

The weather was fine and the hospitality excellent. Wayne Larsen, Graeme and Dorothy Wilkinson, Marie, Caesar (Springer Spaniel) and I went up to the winterless North with steamlaunches Victoria and Romany on trailers.The weekend was not intended to be exclusively steam, but this is a large part of the action. The 8hp single Aveling and Porter traction from the Sunbeamland Museum at Kawakawa as well as veteran, vintage and classic cars were in attendence also. The pictures will show some of the action.

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Local resident "Eliza Hobson" and "Romany" alongside at the Stone Store wharf

Dsc01008.jpg (89557 bytes)The Aveling off across the bridge

Dsc01011.jpg (54037 bytes)Returning from her jaunt she is just out cornered by a veteran Sizarre Naudin some ten years her younger! It seems unlikely that internal combustion will take on. Nontheless, there were some fine examples of MG (a 1938 TA) Jaguar, Austin Healey and Lotus even a sidevalve Aerial motorcycle with sidechair.

The "Eliza Hobson" "Victoria" (who wasn't captured by any of our pictures -she was just too fast) and "Romany" took trips most of the day. Peter Sewells motorboat "Whio" was also on the scene more often than not travelling astern at a great rate of knots.

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The motel we were at is on one of the branches of the Kerikeri inlet and we were able to berth "Romany" alongside a jetty for the night. Very peaceful indeed. That night we were wined and dined in fine style.

On the Sunday, I lit the fire on a misty morning and set off for a steam with a faithful shipmate the spaniel Caesar.

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Dscn1762.jpg (386532 bytes) Then it was more of the same taking trips from the wharf.

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We motored home on the Monday having had our fill for the week.


The AGM was nothing special and was over in reasonable time to keep everyone's attention. there were a few changes on committee but the officers were largely re elected unopposed. For the first timein a while the weather gids were kind and the sun was out.

The first pic on the left shows Paul Eaton setting up his delectable York Compound which worked well. It is intesting to compare its drawn out American style with the chunky style of the Leak compound of John Olsen just behind it in the second view.

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Picture above left shows the latest offering from the Colonial iron Works in the form of a delightful single nicely finished out in green and red. Just beside it is a marine single from the same house still in undercoat.

Dscn1752.jpg (392252 bytes)A variety of shots showing the general activities on shore. Dscn1754.jpg (405517 bytes)

Another view of the York and to its left is a uniflow engine which perhaps needed a bit more flywheel or steam to function. There were two model traction engines there too. Nice to see. I managed to get Janice there. Next time she will be in steam.

Peter Sewell had his steamer Firefly down on the river and it was lovely to take a ride in someone else's boat in amongst the frenetic rowing eights racing on the river. Alas, I did not take my camera and missed some lovely shots.

I did get some shots of Chris McMullen's Herreshoff steamer. There has been some real progress on this ship in recent times and we are looking forward to seeing some machinery in the hull. The pix are a bit gloomy -sorry.

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The last pic is the owner on the left fitting a stem fairlead casting watched keenly by John Olsen who is hard at work bulding a  hull for his Leak compound engine. The design parameters for the hull are that it can traverse the canals in Europe. Sounds interesting.


A delightful Autumn weekend as only the South Island can provide it. The trees were showing some colour prior to dropping their leaves, animals shuffling quietly in the fields, farmers reaping corn with big machinery and steam was in the air. The showgrounds in Rangiora 20km north of Christchurch were full of the fruits of men's and women's labour: Coal smoke, noise, sweat and activity. These pics will give some idea of the atmosphere:

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It was very good for people to see the engines actually working: Chaffcutting, threshing, towing, sawmilling and even pile driving

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The obvious star of the show was the Showman's Quo Vadis and the Carossel. It seemed that there were more adults than children enjoying this ride!

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There were other engines of course: From the two big Fowler road locos

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Frank Heron's dimunitive Foster Wellington tractor

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Several Burrel Gold Medal tractors and even two Robeys.

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There was a lovely big Aveling but I had run out of space on the camera

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The lady in that picture doesn't seem that impressed (they're like that sometimes).. The general atmosphere, however was one of wonderment on the part of those who had never seen so many engines in one place or even seen an engine at all. The rest of us just really enjoyed ourselves and very much look forward to the bicentenary of Burrells.



Sadly only two steamers on the river: Resident paddle steamer "Waimarie" and SL "Victoria" down from Auckland. "Romany" was suffering from owner lethargy. Plenty of action on the streets with traction engines and vintage vehicles. Even an itinerant barrel organ playing trad songs. He looked a little like a well-known steamer and motorcyclist from Taupo

Planningis underweigh to attract more steamboats next year. It did conflict with the Lake Rotoiti event in the South Island.

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Dscn4054.jpg (715868 bytes)McLaren and Burrell seem to predominate this year.Dscn4055.jpg (695612 bytes)


There was a good opportunity to steam up at the boatyard. To raise the public profile of the yard, I decided to have an open weekend. Glorious weather for the end of winter. Heaps of people came and enjoyed. Lots had trips on Romany. Here are some pix.

Img_0154.jpg (81050 bytes) All steamed up and no tide

Img_0153.jpg (50201 bytes)Peter Sewell's delectable new boat arrived.

Img_0159.jpg (85263 bytes)Off with the first group of passengers

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Like all good steam events, there is a little matter or two to attend to; I don't enjoy punching tubes but Wayne Larson digs at me a bit about it so I do from time to time Here is one of those times for the record.

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Actually, the Stuart boiler is very clean burning and the tubes stay clean for long periods.

After a fair time at the city taking bods for trips, we set off up river. Romany, Mary Rose and Victoria. Waimarie soon overtook us of course.

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Those boys did really well on that restoration and it is good to see her keep on going year after year.

The Avoca Hotel is the thick end of an hour's steaming up river (depending on how fast you want to go. The river was still quite scarred from the winter floods. Here is "Mary Rose" coming in for a landing at the watering hole. Seen over the top of "Victoria"

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Eventually all three rafted up for a picnic and visit to the Avoca.

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"Waimarie" overtook us on the way home, naturally.

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A very nice end to a great weekend at Wanganui. Hope to make the next one 11 and 12 March 2006.


After many weeks of hard work, Peter Sewell's delectable little steamer has had improvements to her creature comforts including a canopy and has been put into survey. She is now with Alan and Sue Lambourne's Northern Steamship Company. The boat is thus the oldest working commercial steamboat in NZ. She was renamed Firefly after the first steamer in the area and launched at Kerikeri on Saturday 27 November with a prayer and a good wish.

handover 1 (54294 bytes) A speech and a prayer for the ship and crew

crew (62711 bytes) Peter Sewell and Alan Lambourne (all smiles)

launching (54688 bytes)The launching

It is not steam, I know, but Peter's trailer was used to bring my new boat back to whangateau. I don't think she will become a steamer, but I can't help but brag. "Polaris" was built as a fishing boat  in Cornwall in 1935 and is a long long way from home. There is a fuller report coming in the workboats website www.tugboats.co.nz

Beached.jpg (75931 bytes)Polaris some years ago

At boatyard (36188 bytes)At Whangateau for some fettling

KERIKERI STEAMUP 6 November 2004

A merry gathering of steamers at Kerikeri for what has become an annual festival. Despite the lack of bureaucratic support, the steamers just got on with it.Present were Victoria, Boss Murphy (soon to be renamed) and Eliza Hobson. I had my first trip on Eliza. Funny, I have aways been busy with Romany whenever she has been around.

eliza (40485 bytes)  Eliza -going well as always

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Great when you are not under pressure! Quick to rise with an oil fired water tube boiler.

elizaandhine (79237 bytes)The scene at the wharf. Nice new pontoon.


Saturday dawned rather grey but quite bereft of the lousy weather the met boys had been prophesising most of the week before. "Romany" was hitched on to the back of the trusty Defender and for once I was early meeting up with Graeme Wilkinson who was planning to take Tui and crewman Peter Smythe.

We left in good time and arrived at Lake Hakanoa which is apparently an old open cast mine just several hundred metres East of Huntly which has been allowed to fill. Like several million of my fellow countrymen (and countrysheilas) I never ever knew it was there. I had to detour to buy a pair of boots in the township and, by the time I arrived there were several steam boats already anointing the early morning air with the noble smell of coal smoke.

The slipway is quite convenient and launching posed no problem. There was the mandatory safety pep talk from Terry Charteris the President of North Waikato Tourism -main organiser- and off we steamed for an enjoyable day. The photos will show you.

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Steamboats that attended were: Victoria, Boss Murphy, Tui, Gypsy, Misty, Mary Rose, Alexandra and Romany. Also both of the late Alec Holmes' little clinker steamboat models were on the lake: A rare treat for the onlookers.

A good time was had by all and many passengers were taken for their first ride on a steamer.

Also notable amongst the static displays were Paul Hicks (father of Daniel) who has had a Stuart compound for some time and has also recently bought a model traction engine rather reminiscent of a single cylinder Burrell. Strangely enough, the engine was made by a local Huntly man and Paul was keen to get its history. He now needs a steamboat….

John Olsen had his large compound almost completed and there were several steam engines featured in the local model engineers' display. I was particularly taken by a couple of traditional clinker boats and a delightful period speedboat powered by a four cylinder Mercruiser petrol engine.

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After the day's festivities were complete, the boats were trailered to a secure storage courtesy of the major sponsor Solid Energy (who also provided the coal). Dinner was at the Ngaruawhia Football Club and was best described as appropriate. I had forgotten about Chateau Cardboard….

Sunday was devoted to steaming on the Waikato River at Ngaruawhia -at the confluence of the Waikato and the Waipa to be exact. What a delightful place to meander around in a steamer all day. We really want to do a lot more steaming on the Waikato sometime soon. The rain did set in for a while late morning but soon cleared up. An unexpected pleasure at noon was a steam train double headed by two Jas towing a carriage of overseas enthusiasts. Pity they couldn't have sampled our pleasures too.

Dscn3656.jpg (45410 bytes)Boss Murphy

Alas I was too busy enjoying myself to take any more pictures and all too soon, it was over. We really look forward to next year. Thanks to Gary Summerhays for his usual organisation skills.

Russell Ward.


This was held on 25, 26 September 2004. Steve McClune's Burrell "Dixie Flyer" was one of the old stars of this particularly difficult pioneer roads out of Napier. The weather was particularly unpleasant and we (alas and sad to relate) attended for a short time by LandRover to see what they were up to. We came upon them at the lunch stop at Rissington which is nearly halfway. By that stage, the crews and engines were quite wet and a 6hp Ransomes had withdrawn with the valve motion in disarray.

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My spies tell me that two engines, only, completed the run. The terrain was hilly and hard work. It would have been OK if not for the adversity of the weather.


The Auckland Steam Engine Society held its annual Steamboat Rally at Mark Balemi's property on the lower reaches of the Clevedon River just south of Auckland on Saturday 22 February. Steamboats attending were Victoria, Puke, Peter Sewell's delightful counter sterned launch from the late 1800s, Bill Fowler's new steamer Mary Rose and Mark Balemi's Gypsy. The power plant from Abel Tasman -the late Russell McFarlane's 40' steamer- was in steam clanking merrily. A variety of steam models was presented and an amazing model aircraft rotary engine from Murray Lane.

Also on display was the collection of steam engines the Mark Balemi bought from Barry Brickell at Coromandel.

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This was held on Sunday 9 February. On the day before, an informal steamboat meeting resulted in four steamers (the most on the lake for over 70 years) steaming to an isolated lovely bay for a quiet picnic. Bill Fowler's new steamer Mary Rose was making her debut.

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In order from left Mary Rose, Victoria Misty and Romany From the other side, they looked like this

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The wooden boat parade was held the next day, and again the steamers sallied forth. Romany was awarded the best presented boat of the parade for the second year running.

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This shot shows the boats congregating at the start on the Okere channel. The boat in the centre is the Kaiama (sic) the 18' workboat off the HMNZS Kiama 180' Bathhurst Class minesweeper now, alas, scrapped. Her sistership the Castlemain is in Melbourne; in steaming condition  and well worth a look.

McLeans Island  2002.

Showing a little old prejudice, I took these pics at this weekend do. Thoroughly enjoyable, but I had to leave before they got the engines really working.

A couple of Burrells, one en route and one resting for a while

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A Fowler B6 Road Loco

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Another Fowler this time a 7hp R1 and a Marshall 6 hp

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KERIKERI August 2003

Three steamboats and their crews travelled up from Auckland to the Bay of Islands in late August 2003. This picturesque, historical spot is about three hours drive north of Auckland.

We were there at the invitation of Alan Lambourne who owns the steamer Eliza Hobson. Alan and his wife Sue take passengers on Eliza Hobson from the Kerikeri wharf. It was a real steam event. There were the four steamboats on the water. The Collins steam sawmill (see in the Hotchpot) was in full production and there was an 8hp single Aveling and Porter traction engine in attendence.

Aveling 1 (67497 bytes)8hp Aveling and Porter single.


elizaprofile (39695 bytes)Eliza Hobson overtaking

elizagoing (50417 bytes)Sad to be overtaken with only 45 psi on the clock.

Also Eliza has waterline length on her side.

vicandrom (46184 bytes)Victoria and Romany.

There had been a lot of rain and the stream was quite silted as a result. It is normally quite clear.

There was a merry gathering of steam folk on the Saturday night. This could well be a yearly event: We really enjoyed it.


Maintained by Russell

Copyright Russell Ward 1999 All Rights Reserved.