History

history of the ferryThe ferry service in Whitianga has operated for over 100 years since it's beginning in 1895. Many individuals rowed themselves and others across the river before an actually ferry service began. It was first officially started by Neil Harris, who rowed people and livestock across the river for a fee.

The stone wharf located on the Ferry Landing side of the river was built in 1837 and is reputed to be the first stone wharf built in Australasia. It was commissioned by a timber merchant who owned a trading post and ship building yard in the area. The stone used for the steps were obtained from a nearby source and were fashioned by native unskilled labour. The Whitianga (town side) wharf was first built in 1882.

The smaller of the two ferries is the Stella B, named by a previous owner after his wife. It was built to replace a ferry that was washed away off it's mooring never to be seen again during the same night as the Wahine tragedy. The second and larger ferry, Mercury Star (named after the bay), was built by Whangarei Engineering. It was specifically designed to operate in shallow waters for use as a ferry and river cruise vessel in Whitianga.

In 2014 the ferry business changed hands after 40 years and was purchased by Fred Acke. Fred had moved ashore from a long career in the Superyacht industry. Part of the new contract with the district council was to provide a new ferry within a year and in August 2015 a new 63 seat, aluminium ferry was launched. She was built in Mt Manganui by Ally cats & powered by John Deere. The new Ferry is named 'Diana Rose' after Fred's mum who lives in Whitianga.