New Hope For Kestrel’s Comeback

Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 | 3 Comments

Old and the new: The Kestrel in front of The Cloud, prior to being moved to Wynyard Quarter

Old and the new: The Kestrel in front of The Cloud, prior to being moved to Wynyard Quarter

Waterfront Auckland has announced it is providing much needed support to the quest to get the 105-year old ferry the MV Kestrel seaworthy again.

In the lead up to the start of Heritage Week, Waterfront Auckland has agreed to provide berthage for the MV Kestrel and assistance in the form of funding for a survey to assess what is required to get her to operating once more.

“The MV Kestrel is a piece of Auckland maritime history,” said Waterfront Auckland Chairman, Bob Harvey. “Generations of Aucklanders hold fond memories of travelling on her and we’re delighted to be able to provide the support needed to get her on the road to recovery.”

At times the doubled ended MV Kestel carried more than 20,000 people daily, busily transporting people across and around the Waitemata Harbour for 54 years before Auckland had a harbour bridge.

Mike Alston Chairman of the Kestrel Preservation Society says they are grateful for the assistance:

“This is the first big step in the journey to getting the ferry operating again. Having a new home and an assessment of the works required, now gives us a real chance to go out and drum up further support as part of restoration efforts.”

Mr Harvey said backing the society was a natural fit as promoting an active and working waterfront, retaining existing and creating new marine uses, and preserving maritime archaeology are key principles for Waterfront Auckland and guide all development propositions.

Additional heritage initiatives currently underway include the re-use of a former boat yard in Wynyard Quarter into a social place and venue for heritage boaties and the inclusion of 14 berths at the Western Jellicoe Wharf to display some of the 240 fleet of classic yachts.

The public will get a chance to go aboard the Kestrel from 11am to 4pm this coming Saturday as part of the start of the Auckland Heritage Festival.

Notes on Kestrel History and Significance

• Built in Auckland in 1905 she is the last of the big double ended ferries afloat, and in remarkably good condition for her age.

• The Kestrel has carried in the order of 100 million passengers, more than any other boat, ship, car, bus, train or plane in the history of New Zealand

• At times she carried over 20,000 people daily, busily transporting people across and around the Waitemata for 54 years before Auckland had a harbour bridge.

• The Kestrel carried the victorious 1906 ‘Originals” All Blacks ashore from the cruise ship Sonoma at the end of their UK tour to a tumultuous welcome.

• This ferry was the second of the Albatross series fleet built, by Charles Bailey Jnr, on the waterfront where the tepid baths are now.

• The vessel is built of 3 inch thick heart kauri planks, single skin on wooden frames, with 1 inch heart totara sheathing. She measures 123 foot long x 28.5 foot beam x 9 foot draft.

• She was originally powered by a compound Fraser steam engine but was converted to diesel in 1951. Her current engine is still the 6 cylinder slow revving Crossley diesel engine installed in 1951.


  1. Dave Balcom says:

    “Thank you” Waterfront Auckland! It will be fantastic for the Kestrel to return to duty ferrying passengers from Auckland to Devonport as she once proudly did. There used to be a jazz band playing live on board during weekends. How relaxing to enjoy a glass of wine and a good bit-o-jazz at the end of the working week. If this feature were to also be reintroduced, if only on Summer weekends, what a tourist attraction it would be! A wonderful way for anyone to be introduced to Devonport, Auckland’s historical maritime village. Watch out Fullers!

  2. April Blanchette-Matthews says:

    I hope they get the kestrel up and running again, use to love going on it as a kid hehe. Would love to be able to take my children for a ride to town on it.

  3. Steve Anderson says:

    Amidst all the hype about Kestrel don’t forget the William C Daldy which has been berthed at Devonport now for 10 years. Daldy is doing heritage cruises for POA over the next 2 weekends. Capt W C Daldy for whom the vessel is named played a huge part in the progress of 19th c Auckland, and deserves greater recognition for this.

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