G H I J
Q R S
T U V W X Y Z
SS Victoria - Taupo's first Steamer
In the early 1870's Taupo as getting the first of its permanent
Encouraged by the end of the land wars and with the Armed
Constabulary based in the area the settlers wanted new areas for
grazing. Another development at this time was the beginning of
tourism especially with the popularity of the thermal sights of
In anticipation of this Mr JW Bell built and launched Taupo's first
steamer in 1874. Referred to as the 'little steamer', this firts
commercially operated boat on Lake Taupo proved to be an uneconomic
'Victoria' was about the same length as the 'Tongariro', 50 ft long.
But whereas Tongariro gave many years service, the SS Victoria's
lasted only five years. Her captain. Mr Bell had her built in Taupo
from kauri timber brought down from Auckland. There was a small
cabin on her deck and she had a wood fired staem engine down below
which powered an 18" single thread screw.
Victoria was launched in Taupo with a cake and champagne ceremony.
She could carry up to 30passengers with a crew of six and would take
up to three hours to make the 26 mile(40 km) trip to the Tokaanu
stream. Once there the passengers were rowed to the village.
Using a flexible timetable the Victoria made a weekly round trip.
She also handled wool clips from farms scattered around the lake.
The SS Victoria proved to be an uneconomic venture. She was ahead of
her time and was too big for the work that she was expected to do.
The expected number of passengers and volume of freight was not
realised for this sort of boat at that time. Added to this, the
trout fishing, which made Taupo an attractive destination had not
started and farming was only marginal. She was also unstable in
rough conditions making some trips unpleasant for travellers.
Eventually she was laid up only to sink at her anchor because of
neglect. Then after being raised for an equally uneconomic life
transporting woolclips she was replaced by the schooner Dauntless.
In 1887 with the growing interest in tourism and the creation of the
Tongariro National Park, two more steamers were put on the lake. The
smaller steamer 'Hinemoa' was owned and run by Captain A.O. Sproule
d the 'Tauhara' by Dan Ferney.
By 1894 Dan Ferney had taken over the operation of both vessels and
commercial boats were well established on the lake.
Everybody knew the Victory. A glance through one of her
visitors' books revealed names of New Zealanders who came from many
walks of life, as well as overseas visitors.Lord and Lady Freyberg and their guests spent a couple of days on her in
Every year for 21 years since 1930 a party from the Hawke's Bay Rugby
Union came up to Taupo for a fishing trip. The 1951 party included such
names as Winston McCarthy, T Morrison and L Brownlie. The remarks
column commented "Some party, every assistance from our old friend
Captain Jack Taylor. We will come back." They caught 119 fish on that
Victory was built in Taupo. She was designed by Jack Taylor
and built by him and his family. Jack Taylor was a boat builder by
trade, which he learnt in Napier, working for his father for a while
before branching out on his own.
Victory was built in a shed on the other side of the harbour
from town where the boatyard is now. She was built by hand and launched
in 1939. No power tools were used in her construction.
She has a kauri hull and the ribs are jarrah, while the frames and floor
timbers are totara.
The first engine was a 20/40 Doman. This was an unusual engine, it was
an American petrol four- cylinder engine and generated 20hp at 500 revs
and 40hp at 800 revs. This engine was used until 1950.
She started her commercial career in 1939 and continued through the war,
classed as a semi-essential industry for recreational purposes taking
army personnel out on day trips. After the war she was run as a
successful commercial tourist launch, making day and overnight trips,
mainly for fishing.
She was also used to pick up hunters from Western Bay and other
commercial work. The only alterations that have been made have been to
the cabin top and the engine has been changed twice.
In the early 1950s a Glennifer six-cylinder petrol engine was put in and
this was changed later to a Morris diesel. In 1955 she accompanied
Margaret Sweeny, who was the first person to swim from Tokaanu to Taupo.
In 1982 the Taylors sold her to her present owner Patrick Cox.
Victory has now been sold again and moved away from Lake Taupo.