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Fast Ferry Debacle in the Queen Charlotte Sounds

Ferry Kaitaki in the Marlborough Sounds

Ferry Kaitaki in the Marlborough Sounds

In the early 1960’s the Inter-Island Ferry ‘Tamahine’, which travelled at a speed of 14 knots through the Sounds, was replaced by the new generation roll-on, roll-off ferry, the ‘Aramoana’. The ‘Aramoana’ had a service speed of 17 knots. In a very short time our residents started to notice the fine sand being stripped off the beaches. Agreement was reached between the Sounds Settlers, and N.Z.Rail to reduce the speed to 14 knots upon entering the Sounds. ‘Aramoana’ was followed by her sister ships the ‘Aranui’, ‘Arahanga’, ‘Aratika’, ‘Arahura’.and the latest, the ‘Aratere’.

N.Z.Rail was sold, purchased by the American multi-national Wisconsin Rail and re-named, Tranz Rail. Unfortunately, the 14-knot speed limit agreement was dishonoured and discontinued.

1994 saw the introduction of the ‘Albeyzen’, a high speed mono-hull, by a company called Sea Shuttle, owned by Brooke Mckenzie and capable of travelling at 36 knots or more. Tranz Rail saw this as a serious threat to their monopoly, moved quickly and leased the ‘Lynx’, a first-generation high-speed catamaran capable of travelling at 38 knots. This was the beginning of a new era in shipping, one that everyone was excited about. New technology: We are all fascinated by speed.

The buzz didn’t last long however. Because of the size of their wake, the effects the new “fast ferries” had on the environment and the threat to human safety were catastrophic!

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