The Story Of Ruapani


Built in Wellington in 1929 by B.J.L. Jukes in Balaena Bay. Jukes had built in 1926 two sister ships – Vagabond and Nereides. Ruapani was commissioned by the NZ Govt Tourist Dept for use on Lake Waikaremoana, to carry passengers from Hopuruahine to the Lake House Hotel. 

When the hotel closed in 1965 she was sold to Peter Ash’s company – Waikaremoana Launch Services. Ash replaced the original 40hp Thornycroft petrol engine with a Perkins 84hp diesel and operated her on the lake for another 11 years.

In 1976 Ash sold Ruapani to her first private owner, Noel Tong, who sold her in 1984 to her present owner – Ken Menzies, that woodys is 38 years ago, very impressive.

Menzies initially kept her on the lake, but in 1990 trucked her to Evans Bay, Wellington (his new home). The move was a very lucky break for Ruapani as Menzies engaged well known Wellington boat designer – Bruce Askew to undertake a major rebuild / restoration of Ruapani. The work involved redesigning the above deck area to a style similar to Nereides, below deck the engine was shifted aft to accommodate two large cabins forward. The change to salt water necessitated upgrading a lot of her ‘hardware’ and the addition of freshwater tanks – life on the lake equaled a permanent supply of fresh water.

These days Ruapani is berthed in Picton Marina and is a wonderful boat for cruising the Marlborough Sounds. Ken Menzies commented that Ruapani was maintained very well by the original launch master Frank Smith and she remains in sound condition after 92 years.

The gallery of photos above date from when Ruapani was on Lake Waikaremoana in the early 1930s, thru to approx 2004. The top photo is a recent shot and perfectly shows what a magnificent woody Ruapani is. And a lucky woody to have had 38 years of continuous ownership at the hands of a devoted owner.

The photos were shared with us by Ken, and the details I have extracted for numerous WW comments and newspaper clipping.

A Helping Hand Needed

Alice Morrison is the owner of the classic woody launch – Taurima (WW link below) which is currently in Tauranga. Alice has been trying for months to move her to Whangaroa, or at least Whangarei but due to weather and availability she has not yet been able to. So woodys – anyone out there that could help Alice relocate Taurima? Alice is prepared to pay, but is short on intel on who could / would do this. You can comment in the WW comments section or contact Alice direct at

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