Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tolaga Bay wharf

The impressively long wharf (660 metres or 2,165 ft, widely regarded as the longest concrete wharf in the Southern Hemisphere) in Tolaga Bay, 56 km northeast of Gisborne. The coastal trade dominated the business of these outports where small steam coasters brought in supplies and general cargo and exported farm produce, mainly wool, grain and meat.

The development of a local freezing works, in competition with the large one at Gisbome, was often the factor that gave the promise of a substantial shipping trade. The opening of the Tolaga Bay Wharf on 22 November 1929, complete with a railway track along it, enabled larger coasters to load alongside and for many years the Richardson and Company coaster Kopara (1938) called regularly. Other coastal traders to call included the Pukeko, Koutunui and the Patek.  For details, see the book The Era of Coastal Shipping in New Zealand.

But as is often in case in small rural communities, things slowly declined and the wharf closed to shipping in 1967. Unused, the wharf has deteriorated in recent decades and efforts have been instigated to save it. Its history is on this webpage

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