As has become my norm for Waitangi holiday weekend early on Saturday morning I pointed the car south and made my way to Lake Rotoiti in the middle of NZ’s North Island. 

2023 marked the 26th anniversary of the event and after a horror week of ‘once in a 100 years’ rain storms I had concerns that the parade might be postponed or cancelled. Well woodys as you’ll see from the above photo gallery, my fears were redundant.

The day started overcast with some light drizzle but this passed thru before the parade kicked off at 11am. Numbers were down a little from last year but conditions were perfect on the lake. 

Enjoy the gallery above – if you’re craft is featured above and you want a high res copy of the photo, drop me an email at the address below. Apologise if I missed your boat or if the odd photo is a little out of focus – just me in a run-about jiggling the throttle, looking out for other boats and holding the camera 🙂

My pick of the boat I’d most like tied up at my imaginary lake jetty is – ELLEN (#14), 26’ in length, built in 2004 in strip planked cedar from a plug taken off an old abandoned hull found in Kopu. Thought to be a ‘Milkmaid’ design by Bailey & Lowe. Powered by a 29hp diesel.  In my eyes just perfect. Photo below

Special thanks again to Dave and Glenys Wilson for the loan of a boat to get me out on the lake.

As always – click on photos to enlarge.

Lastly I never tire of the sound of big V8 (5.7L)  water exhausts. Shawn Vennell, the owner of Judy H, was lining me up for a prop shower – a few words of warning as to what my reaction would be, made him change his mind 😉


2021 Lake Rotoiti Classic and Wooden Boat Parade – 175+ photos & videos



As promised todays WW story is a doozy, we travelled down to the lake very early on Saturday morning and were hosted by the clubs commodore Dave Wilson and wife Glenys, who own the magnificent 1947 Colin Wild built bridge-decker – Haumoana. The launch is kept at the end of the lawn at their lakeside property (photos below) – More details on Haumoana here

Dave lent me is ‘fishing boat’ – the f/glass runabout seen the photo below, to use as a photo boat for the parade – fingers crossed no one got a photo of me at the helm 😉

Close to 80 classic and wooden craft of all shapes and sizes – power, sail, oar and steam participated in the days events – starting with a parade that snakes around the waterfront properties and vantage points. Post parade every one heads off to Wairoa Bay for an old school boating picnic – being lake based, no issue with tides or anchoring, people just nudge up to the shore – perfect for checking out each others woody.

The afternoon activities had something for everyone – adults and kids activities (egg throwing, bucket diving for sweets etc) + lots of cool prizes to be won.Without a doubt its the best organised and executed boating event I have been to – very slick and the bonus – lots of nice friendly people – we like that 🙂

Enjoy the photos. As always – click photos to enlarge 😉 If I missed your boat, sorry but one boat and one camera can only be in so many places at one time  – next year.



photos & details ex Rachel Jamieson (one of the powerhouses behind the Lake Rotoiti Wooden Boat Parade)

Rachel is very keen to find out more about her mothers launch, Arapawa. Like a lot of old launches Rachel has uncovered a mixed bag of info, alot conflicting but recent discoveries are looking good – Anyone able to confirm or correct the info below ?

Below are two excellent letters from Pete at Eco-Tours in response to Rachel contacting him. Read below (edited)

Letter #1 (Pete to Rachel)

“Was good to receive your letter Rachel, I was contacted by Trevor Watson several months ago asking for info. My opoligies for not responding.
I have had a search through my notes but couldnt find much detail. She was probably built by Ernie Lane, I would suspect in the early 1920’s, for a Mr Bay who started the guest house at Te Mahia .
Old Joe Hebberly thought that she was origionaly called the ‘Gannet’.  She was always distinctive due to the vee stern, the only one like it in the Sounds.
I was told that she had a Bolinger 2 stroke that you had to stop and start running in opposite direction  to run in reverse ! She was sold to Tim Watson in East Bay on Arapawa Island who changed her name to  the Arapawa.
They added a small wheel house, later got Jack Morgan to build up a raised focsale head and new wheel house, this transformed her into a fine looking nicely proportioned vessel. Tim also re-powered her with a new BMC in 1957.
Mr Mike Povia ( Poiea ) bought her and was scalloping dredging out of Havelock, she was then purchased by Des Tierney, who bought her back to Picton, He extended the wheelhouse, (not sure who did the build, )  he also fitted a  75hp 4 cylinder Ford, had her for 12 yrs before selling to Alex Jamerson.”

Letter #2 (Pete to Rachel)

“Have just rang old Des Tierney about his ownership of the Arapawa, he didnt know about builder or origional owner.
He said that an old timer told him that it had been built in Titirangi, a bay in the outer Pelorus Sound, but didn’t have any specifics or year.
There was a  prolific boat builder in the next bay by the name of Claude Wells, I will to some checking and see if any of his family remember the Gannet.
The hull type gives you something to go on re the time of birth. The launches built around 1900 had counter sterns, then compromize sterns then they built torpedo sterns before they settled on the straight transome stern. Although I have one of Ernie Lanes boats built for my grandfather in 1914, it looks identicle to the Arapawa so she could be 100 yrs old, I dont think it would be any older than that. Like I said the really distinctive thing about the Arapawa was the vee transome, ( Very special. )
I will give old Jack Hanson a ring, the boat builder who would of raised the focsale head and built the new wheel house , he is in his nineties and would be the only man alive who could shed light on this mystery…… so will be intouch if I can find any new info.”