Monday, December 20, 2010

Kestrel Comes Home

Kestrel is the last working survivor of Auckland's historic ferry fleet... and still going strong at 105.
Launched in December 1905, she has a kauri hull, at 39m long is believed to be one of the largest wooden vessels of this age left in NZ, and is unique in that she has two bows and two stems. A rudder and propeller at each end allowed the vessel to pull into a berth forwards. When ready to leave, the skipper would go to the wheelhouse at the other end - the stem then became the bow and Kestrel could steam back out the way she came in.
Over her working life, she was an excursion steamer and a cross-harbour ferry on the Devonport-Auckland run. After a multi-million-dollar makeover about five years ago, she begun her second century as a classy floating restaurant/bar in Tauranga.
Headin' home...
But after sitting vacant for several years, Kestrel was sold to The Kestrel Preservation Society in November, towed out of Tauranga Harbour and now resides back home in Auckland Harbour. The society hopes she'll become a key feature in the waterfront’s future redevelopment plans.
Many Aucklanders will remember sailing aboard Kestrel (and her sistership Toroa, currently undergoing restoration in Henderson) and will be thrilled to have her home. Perhaps the return of Kestrel will encourage more support for the Toroa Preservation Society's efforts...

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