Boating NZ - - Feature -

Like most vis­i­tors, my sense of the Sounds’ his­tory ex­tended to the ar­rival of the Maori around a thou­sand years ago, and Cap­tain James Cook. Dur­ing his 18th cen­tury voy­ages of dis­cov­ery, Cook liked stop­ping here for a bit of R&R and ship TLC. But there’s quite a bit more to it, as I dis­cov­ered.

Vis­it­ing the charm­ing, pic­turesque vil­lage of Have­lock to­day, with its art gal­leries and cafés, it’s hard to be­lieve it was once a wild, boom town with some 23 ho­tels cater­ing to tribes of thirsty min­ers. All because of a gold rush.

I also didn’t know the ham­let nur­tured two of New Zealand’s most fa­mous sons – Ernest Ruther­ford (he who dab­bled in small things) and Wil­liam Pick­er­ing, one of NASA’S most gifted rocket sci­en­tists.

Wakatahuri Bay – at the outer lim­its of the Sound – de­serves an ar­ti­cle in its own right. It’s been de­scribed as the site of New Zealand’s first com­mer­cial ship­break­ing yard – the Sounds Wreck­ing Com­pany.

Launched just af­ter Wwll, it was op­er­ated by two broth­ers who’d beach old ves­sels to re­move all valu­able met­als and tim­ber. Their ver­sion of re­cy­cling in­cluded burn­ing the stripped wrecks on the shore. I’m not sure that would be al­lowed to­day. There are still traces of the ac­tiv­ity.

Of course, the best place to read about the Sound’s past is on the mail boat it­self – there’s plenty of ma­te­rial de­tail­ing the devel­op­ments over the years.

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