SS TOROA - 1927 to 1949

Posted by on 20 September 2013 | Comments

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1927 16 June
Toroa collides with the cable ship Iris in very heavy fog, after avoiding the cargo steamer West Calera. Damage to flagstaff (then stepped on stempost) and upper rail and seating.

1928 17 October    
Quick ferry passage

A report in NEWS OF THE DAY in the Auckland Star, 17 October, 1928:

A remarkably quick passage was made this morning by the ferry steamer Toroa.  Leaving Devonport wharf at 8.35 sharp, she was alongside Queen’s Wharf ten minutes later, berthing at 8.47.  The conditions were all in favour of safe and speedy steaming, the harbour being as calm as a millpond, with the tide coming in.  Nevertheless, it was a good trip, a tribute to the Toroa’s engines [sic], and yet another testimony to the comfort and safety of the ferry services. Good weather or bad, the steamers are seldom more than a minute or two out of their scheduled time.”

More information can be found on the National Library of New Zealand website,

A wireless set installed, enabling passengers to listen to 1YA, a local radio station, but after a number of complaints – it interfered with conversation    the set is removed. (1YA, with 1ZB, was broadcast from the radio masts beneath which Toroa is now being restored.)

overhauled and the hull repainted, the Devonport Steam Ferry Co. having changed from a light blue hull to the new livery of dark green hull and white upper works.

1937 July

In a major overhaul during annual survey, Toroa is refastened with new galvanised steel planking bolts, the originals having suffered severe corrosion from galvanic action with the copper sheathing. Copper replaced by zinc sheathing over tarred felt and schenam. Corroded 12-foot length at base of each fore-&-aft bulkhead either side of boiler & enclosing coal bunkers replaced by 12" wide strip of 1/4" plate let in and welded. Repairs to valves and engine.

Toroa survey 1937


With the outbreak of the war, registration numbers issued to commercial ships working around New Zealand. Toroa’s number 2203 was painted on the lower bulwarks on each side at each end. 


1941 10 March
Official war time blackout    the windows required to be painted blue and all outside lights extinguished. Blackout test carried out.

1941 12 May        
Toroa stranded 200 yards from Devonport wharf – floated off next morning.

1941 30 May
Toroa in collision with sister ferry SS Kestrel, off the corner of Queens Wharf.

1944 & 1945
War-time shortages of coal become so severe that ferry services are threatened.

1947 4 January
Toroa’s reversing gear jams and she strikes the wharf, damaging bow and bulwarks.  During later restoration of the reversing engine, it was found to be fitted with an incorrect reversing gear.

1947 2 August
Toroa again stranded.

1948 22 July
Toroa in collision with a cargo ship, damaging her bulwarks and cabin top.  During the later restoration of the cabin top, evidence of the repaired damage was obvious.

1949 10 May

Another collision with jetty. Flagstaff destroyed, bulwarks and rudder damaged.