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Lady Ava

During World War Two there were only two commercial boats operating out of Taupo, Victory and Sunbeam. Rangatira and Rothesay were out of the water.  A third boat, Lady Ava, used to run on a part-time basis and she was run by Ron Houghton.  Ron worked at Woodward's Mill and would take tourists out after work and during the weekends.
 Lady Ava was a 17ft runabout.  She had a 4ft 6in beam and was a clinker boat built of totara.  She was an open boat with no cabin but had a small foredeck and a little windscreen.  She was driven by two 5hp Johnson outboard motors.  She was the first twinscrew on the lake for outboard small boats and was driven from the stern with one motor locked on to the other to facilitate steering.
 She was licensed to take out four passengers who sat on two sets of cushioned seats in front of the driver.  Ron built Lady Ava himself when he worked at the timber mill at Tokaanu.
 Ron had many pleasurable moments on her.  Once coming back from the Western Bays he almost got swamped off Rangatira Point with his load of five pigs, 60 trout, two dogs and three passengers.  He also remembers taking four happy American nurses for a fishing trip round to Whakaipo Bay during the war and bringing them back with their catch of 28 fish.
 Ron later went on to be skipper of Manunui and later became the owner.  He remembers Lady Ava with a great deal of affection as it was the first boat that he owned and built himself.
Lady Luck
Lady Luck was the first commercial tourist fishing boat owned by Jim Storey.  Jim, who has a long career taking thousands of tourists fishing on Lake Taupo, bought her in 1939 from Jack Taylor.   He ran her during the war taking many American army personnel on leave for day trips from Tokaanu.
 Lady Luck was originally known as the Bill Massey.  She was built in 1908 for the government which used her for fisheries control when they were netting on the lake.  In design she was very similar to Romance.  She was 26ft long with a beam of 8" 6".  She had a small cabin and a very large cockpit.  Her construction was all-kauri.
 Lady Luck's most interesting feature was her little old-fashioned inboard engine which was a single banger petrol motor which would "pop-bang" away.  The engine had twin ignition with both magneto and battery ignition.  It also had an open clutch, open sump and gearbox.  The sump wasn't one in a conventional sense, instead it was a big box lying at the bottom of the engine.  At the top of the engine was situated an oil reservoir from which oil would be drip-fed on to the bearings and would come out through the open clutch.  The drip-feed could be adjusted.  At the end of the day the oil from the open sump, which was at the back of the clutch, would be pumped back up to the reservoir.
 Jim sold Lady Luck when he bought the Sunbeam.  The buyer was Bruce Proctor who used her privately.  While Bruce owned her she had a near escape from being lost.  At this time Jim was in the Tokaanu Volunteer Fire Brigade and they were called out as Bruce Proctor had a fire aboard Lady Luck.  He had abandoned her and rowed ashore in a terrible panic fearing that the petrol engine, which had caught fire, and the tank, would explode.  When Jim arrived with the fire brigade he saw that the fire had not taken control so he rowed back out and threw a rope over the bollard and towed her back to the wharf where the brigade put the fire out.
 Only an experienced skipper who knew his former boat well could have done what Jim did, and thus saved Lady Luck. ed skipper who had known his boat well could have done and thus saved Lady Luck.
 Lady Luck had a few more owners but left the Taupo area in the early 1950s.

Lady Pat

Lady Pat  was built in Auckland in the 1920s.  Her owner took great pride in her with her flash looking cabin.  She was used privately on Auckland Harbour.
Lady Pat was brought to Taupo in the 1930s by an identity of the Taupo boating scene (then an Auckland manufacturer) a  Mr Lees.  He had earlier bought the Whizzbang and wanted to put in a 6-cylinder Gray marine much to the horror of the representative from the company that sold the engine to him.  Whizzbang, which had been powered by a one-cylinder standard engine, wasn't big enough for the engine and when it was installed it protruded into the main cabin.
 However, after almost swamping Whizzbang on its first run on the lake (into a south-wester) with her new engine, Lees decided to take the Redwing engine out of Lady Pat and replace it with the Gray marine.
 Lady Pat's next owner was Ron Douglas from Hawke's Bay.  He had Fred Fletcher, who was well known for his lodge at Waitahanui, running her on a commercial basis.
 In 1956 Jim Storey, who had recently moved to Taupo, bought her.  He ran her commercially before selling her to an Auckland service station proprietor, Ian Nairn.  Jim then bought Ranui.
 Lady Pat was an all-kauri boat with two cabins, one forward and one main, plus a wheelhouse.  She would sleep six and was often used for trips of three to four days away in the Western Bays.
 In those days fly-fishing was still predominant and tourists would be taken over to the Western Bays and would fly-fish the lake edges or the mouths of the streams that flowed in to the lake.  Much of the time would be spent relaxing and resting on board during the day with the fishing mostly early in the morning and in the evening.
 Lady Pat was a round-bottom boat, perhaps a bit rounder than most, so she rolled a bit more.  Jim never changed the Gray marine engine and while he had her he found her to be a reliable and trustworthy boat.


Lamorna was built in 1936 for the Blundell family who were the proprietors of Wellington's newspaper.  Colin Wild built her in Auckland.  He seldom built a boat to a price, instead he would tell you afterwards how much it cost, but the price would always be satisfactory for the workmanship.

At the time the boat was being built the Blundells were on a trip to England.  Down on the Cornwall coast they found a small cove.  Nearby there was a little monument to a boat that had been wrecked there many years before and apparently all the crew saved.  It was called Lamorna Cove, Lamorna meaning "refuge from the deep".

With her light silver grey hull Lamorna was a distinctive sight on Lake Taupo.  She was 42ft long and had a beam of 12ft.  She was powered initially by two 45hp Thornycroft petrol engines which were a feature because they were situated in mid-cabin, clearly visible and surrounded by chrome guard rails around which you could walk.  Also in mid-cabin were the cooking facilities.

Lamorna was a nice classy boat for her time, being the first twin-screw boat on the lake.  The Blundells used her privately for a number of years before selling her to Mr MacFarlane from Christchurch.  Not long after Jack Edlin, the proprietor of the Edgewater Lodge, bought her.

Jack replaced the two Thornycrofts with Parsons PKE diesels.  To get these engines in place they had to cut a hole in the cabin top.  This opening was converted to make a hatch and skylight.  The engines had large brass water-cooled exhausts which were always kept polished and were a beautiful sight.  Lamorna's three fuel tanks held 160 gallons.

In the main cabin there was a table and two long seats, the backs of which could be swung up to make two sets of bunks.  Also the cockpit had two roll-up canvas sides so it could be used for sleeping as well.  At the stern were two davits on which a dinghy could be hoisted.

Lamorna was sold to Mick Savage and left Taupo for Whitianga where she was based for a while, being used for sword-fishing.  Her large stern easily accommodated two outriggers.

She has also been based at Whakatane and while fishing out of there in 1971 she was caught in a terrible storm and had to take shelter north of White Island.  Her lifeboat was battered and damage done to her superstructure.  Listeners on shore, keeping in touch by radio with the two fishermen on board, could hear the howling of the wind.  She survived, maybe the luck of her name got her through, and she is still working the waters of the Bay of Plenty carrying the memories of the many who have sailed aboard her.


In the 1920s the tourist fishing boat started to become very popular on Lake Taupo and Lapwing was one of those early boats.

With the increased use of the motor car more families were having their holidays in Taupo and part of this holiday would be to hire a tourist boat, along with two or three other families to share the cost and to have a day's fishing and sightseeing.

Apart from a few outboard motorboats there were few privately owned small boats on the lake. Donald Hunt was an Englishman who came here in the 1920s.  He was a motor mechanic by trade and when he first came here he ran a taxi.  He then began to get into boats.  He had two outboard motorboats and two outboard motor dinghies.  He became the Johnson agent. In 1929 he bought his first launch - LapwingLapwing came from Rotorua, had a narrow beam and was 27ft long.  She was powered by a Stirling 4-cylinder petrol engine which gave her a top speed of about 12 knots.

Probably built in Auckland, she was quite a powerful boat in her time and was the fastest ordinary launch on the lake in those days.  Lapwing was quick for that sort of boat - a displacement hull.  She had no self-starter, but was started with a crank handle.

Donald Hunt had a little wharf of his own just ahead of where the main wharf is now for the pump- out station.  He also had a little shed on the shore.  He had a petrol pump at his home on Lake Terrace near where the fire station is now.  He would take petrol down to his boat in two gallon tins.

Lapwing had its name changed to Pandora in quite unusual circumstances.  Donald had a party out and he had nosed Lapwing on to the beach as he used to do,  Unfortunately, the passengers all ended up on one side of the boat for some reason and Lapwing keeled over and tipped them off.  Some of the passengers fell into the water and it gave them a terrible fright.  It was just an accident and there was nothing wrong with the boat but it gave the boat a name and so she was named Pandora.

She plied for hire for many years after that and then became a private boat passing through many hands before leaving Taupo.

Little Angeline

Little Angeline was one of the early time Bailey and Lowe counter stern boats. She was built at the turn of the century and was a yacht before being converted to being power driven. Before coming to Taupo she was owned by Kinross White in Napier. He used her for sailing as then she did not have a cabin but was an open boat with a small deck up front. She had a mast in the middle for the sails and also had a little single banger engineas an auxiliary. The petrol tank was stored under the deck up front.

Little Angeline came to Taupo just before the war. She was brought here by the father of Don McLeod. The trip then would have taken six hours from Napier on the back of a Hawkes Bay Motor Company Dodge truck over pumiceroads that had many potholes.

The McLeods added the distinctive looking cabin and put a four cylinder petrol driven Rugby motor. The cabin was built out of yellow pine which, unlike white pine, is durable for marine purposes. The yellow pine comes from the heart of  white pine. The outer white pine was well known in the early days for being used for making butter boxes.

Little Angeline is 24ft long with a beam of 8 feet. She is a double ender and with her counter stern was a very good boat in following seas. A big wave would come up from behind, go under the stern so giving a gentle ride to those on board. She is a wooden carvil built boat with a triple diagonal skin. She was a pretty boat when she was a sailing boat and even with her unusual cabin she still maintained her graceful lines.

Little Angeline's four cylinder Rugby petrol engine was a very smooth running, quiet, reliable motor. It gave off 40 HP which allowed her to ahve a cruising speed of about six miles an hour. Most of these Rugby engines were originally from cars although later models were specifically made for marine purposes. This particular engine was known as the Red Seal Continental motor. The engines were easy to repair but high speeds couldn't be attained. They were also very economical only going through about a gallon of petrol an hour. Safety was always on the mind of those taking boats out then and one good check was to make sure that the carburettor was in good condition so that it wasn't dripping. In fact safety on the lake also led to another visible feature of Little Angeline and that was her box like raft on her stern. This was a copper tank with timber built around it and ropes around the edge to hold onto.

Little Angeline was once the subject of a search & rescue mission on LakeTaupo. The McLeods were coming across the lake from Whanganui when the lake started to get very rough. They hadn't left the bay so they secured themselves to shore below the cliffs by using some No 8 fencing wire lying on the shore. For some reason they had got  a lot of water into the engine and into the petrol tank. When the weather eased they decided to try and get home. After six hours they got as far as Ohuku Bay where the Maori Rock carvings are now. The weather had turned bad again and they were caught there for three days. Being well overdue a search party had set out from Taupo on horseback to search for them. Meanwhile on board the Little Angeline, Don Mcleod's sister decided to set out and walk back to Taupo to get help.

There were no roads in those days and the land was just tussock & scrub but the search party caught with her and she and her overdue crew were soon back in Taupo.


Loloma is the Fijian name for "happy days".  A unique name for a unique boat as there is no other boat built quite like Loloma.   At one stage she was the biggest boat on Lake Taupo.  She is licensed to carry 52 passengers and has been filled to capacity on more than one occasion.  She was launched in 1966.

 Loloma was designed by a naval architect and her first owner was Don McLeod who had been running boats on Lake Taupo since the second world war.  Loloma is 40ft long and has a beam of 12ft.  The hull is all steel - 5/16" at the bottom and 1/4" elsewhere.  She was built where the Suncourt Shopping Centre is now situated.

 Loloma started her career by bringing the shingle barge from Kawakawa Bay to the town.  At the time there was no other way of transporting the metal from Kawakawa.  The shingle was even-sized metal - perfect for making concrete.

 Loloma was also used at Five Mile Bay with the sand dredge which used to pump the sand on to the beach from the lake.   She used to be involved in sightseeing excursions in the school holidays, and was also used for fishing trips when she was bought by Andy Lennox in 1971.

 Andy Lennox used the boat for tourist fishing excursions on Lake Taupo for many years before selling it to the present owner Jock Graham three years ago.

When Andy bought the boat he spent three months doing her up, adding a flare around the bow and lining her throughout as the insides had been very austere.  Two years before he sold her to Jock"Graham he removed the original two six cylinder Mk II Trader Ford engines and replaced them with two D Series Fords.

Loloma's future looks secure, she has recently had another refit and will continue to transport many more tourists and fishermen across the waters of Lake Taupo.  Her passengers will no doubt retain fond memories of their excursions on "the boat with a difference"


When he was young, Bernard Fletcher was a keen fisherman.  At the age of 10 he came home with a nine pounder.  He also became a good boatman and would take the oars of a 12ft dinghy while some hopeful fisherman tried his luck harling.
 Bernard, or "Bernie" as he was known, was a slightly-built boy.  His father, Fred Fletcher, ran the Waitahanui Lodge for many years. When Bernie was 12 he was struck down with a crippling paralysis which put him in hospital for four years and left him paralysed from the waist down.  Rather than see him waste away in hospital, Fred brought him back to Taupo, wondering whether he had done the right thing.  Soon however, his doubts were gone because Bernie showed a fighting spirit, almost an obsessive sense of independence.  He was soon using crutches and also a wheelchair in which he struggled through the rough tracks around Waitahanui.  It is said that if Bernie tipped over he wouldn't let anyone help him get back up, instead he would get himself up which could take an hour.
 Bernie was soon back in a boat.  It was powered by an outboard and with the aid of crutches, he would lower himself over the gunwhale to get into the boat.  He also became known for making flies.  He began to become an identity especially when the Fletchers moved to Taupo township from Waitahanui.
Bernie decided that the streets were better suited for speed and that he needed a motorised wheelchair. It took a bit of ingenuity and thought but he did it all himself and soon he was scooting along the dusty streets at 20mph.  With his sense of humour and wanting to have a go he was a real hard case.  He would motor up to the Spa Hotel regularly for a drink and on occasions, if he had a few too many, he would fail to dodge the pumice potholes or take a corner too sharply with the inevitable result.  It was pointless trying to tell him off as he was only interested in enjoying life.
During the second world war, and for a few years after, the American Embassy kept a launch on Lake Taupo and Bernie became caretaker of it.  Early during the war he had taken some Americans out in his outboard at Waitahanui and they were so impressed that they brought down an army boat to Taupo.  It had originally been used for river crossings and had a very short blunt nose and a flat bottom.  Bernie looked after it, doing all the maintenance and repairs.  He ran the boat all over the lake on his own.  His crippled legs were no real liability.  He would take out parties sent by the embassy and had a knack of finding fish when others couldn't.  He also had a habit of revving up his engine when leaving, a noise which could be heard in the town.
In 1954 the State Department deeded the boat to Bernie and the Certificate of Donation was signed by Colonel Julian B Hearne Jnr of the United States Army and presented to Bernie at a small ceremony in the harbour.  Bernie used the Lulu for several years before selling it and buying a larger launch , the Redwing.
Bernie died in 1958 at the age of 38.  The paralysis which he refused to give in to finally caught up with him.  His father, Fred, never had any regrets that he brought him back to Taupo and was sure that the fresh air and environment of Taupo gave Bernie an extra 20 years - and he never wasted a precious minute of them.