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By Bob McNeil
A century-old steamboat that once provided adult entertainment for lonely fishermen is being restored in Northland.
In its time the SS Miverva has hauled kauri logs across the Kaipara Harbour and has been used as a platform for viewing America’s Cup races.
Now it is being restored to its original self as a steam ferry – minus the brothel onboard.
With at least 100 years behind her, the Minerva is a shipload of stories to tell. Originally built to ferry more than 200 passengers between Auckland and Clevedon, the ship eventually became one of the largest pleasure launches on the Kaipara Harbour.
“It’s fairly well authenticated that she stayed out there [the Chatham Islands] as an entertainment centre for horny fishermen,” says shipwright John Clode.
Now the Minerva has been stripped back to her hull. The timber is in surprisingly good condition, but the wheelhouse and bridge will have to be re-built.
The plan is to have the old ferry linked with the Kaw Kawa vintage railway, where steam – rather than steamy excursions – will be unrivalled anywhere else in the world.