New Zealand’s last Paddle Steamer – the PS Waimarie
For a truly unique maritime heritage experience, take a leisurely cruise aboard New Zealand’s last operating paddle steamer on the wonderful Whanganui River.
Start your journey at the Riverboat Museum on Taupo Quay and take a leisurely 2 hour roundtrip cruise up the Whanganui River. While on board, the Engine Room is open to view and volunteer stokers of all ages are welcome! The Galley provides tea, coffee and finger foods for you to enjoy while sitting on the deck. You can also join a delicious lunch and dinner cruise, and the Waimarie is licensed with a full bar.
Sailings run daily seven days a week from November to May. From May to November, scheduled cruises are available on weekends, public holidays and school holidays. No sailings run in August. Group tours are available any time by arrangement. If you have a TOP 10 Membership Card, you will receive a 10% discount on your tickets.
Stay with us and you can enjoy watching this restored beauty making her way through the water from our position on the riverbank. You won't find anything like this at any other holiday park. Give the captain a wave and get a friendly 'toot toot' in return!
The historic Wanganui Rowing Club building was restored to house the early stages of Waimarie's restoration and the Riverboat Museum. The museum contains a full photographic record of the salvage of Waimarie and fascinating displays of river-related artefacts and photographs focusing on the riverboat era. Museum guide is on hand to assist with queries and further information.
In the late 1800s the Whanganui River was an international tourists' mecca, boasting a 12-strong fleet of riverboats run by Alexander Hatrick & Co to provide access from the coast to Taumarunui.
PS Waimarie was built in 1899 by Yarrow & Co Shipbuilders at Poplar, London, and transported in kitset form to Wanganui. Originally named Aotea, she was operated by the Wanganui Settlers River Steamship Co until 1902, when she was sold to Alexander Hatrick and renamed Waimarie (good fortune/peaceful waters).
For almost 50 years PS Waimarie, Queen of the River, plied the River between Wanganui and Pipiriki, navigating the rapids and carring cargo, mail, river dwellers and tourists along this major highway inland.
After the Whanganui River road opened in 1935, the river traffic dwindled and finally, Waimarie, in need of a new boiler, was taken out of service in 1949. In 1952 she sank at her berth in Wanganui. She remained buried in the silt and mud of the River until 1993, when she was salvaged by enthusiastic volunteers and moved into the Whanganui Riverboat Centre for restoration.
The original design and manufacturing methods were followed as closely as possible, though the restored vessel complies with all modern safety standards. All the hull plates were cold riveted - with approximately 40,000 rivets!
Intensive restoration work began in 1997 and on 1 January 2000 restored Waimarie was recommissioned for her new life on the Whanganui River, as New Zealand's only authentic paddle steamer.