New Zealand Shipping Co


Although both Albion Line and Shaw, Savill & Co were operating UK – New Zealand services in the second half of the 19th Century, the settlers in the Colony decided to form their own shipping company to resist external domination of the trade. The New Zealand Shipping Company was set up in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1873, operating initially with sailing ships, because of the distances involved and the absence of coaling facilities. The company’s purpose was to provide additional facilities for the carriage of immigrants and consumer goods to the Colony. NZSCo bought a small number of ships, but mainly relied on chartered ships. The company planned only one round trip per vessel per year, because of seasonal prevailing winds and seasonal availability of north-bound cargo. About half the ships sailed to the Dutch East Indies, China or even the west coast of USA for return cargoes.

In 1882 the company experimentally refrigerated two holds in one of its sailing ships and successfully carried frozen mutton, beef and pigs to London in 103 days. This led local producers to demand the introduction of refrigerated steamers and in 1883 a £30,000 per annum joint Mail service was awarded to NZSCo and Shaw, Savill to finance the fleet requirement. This led Albion Line to sell out to Shaw, Savill. A major financial blow was the 1889 replacement of the Mail Contract with a far less valuable payment per poundage carried. In 1890 NZSCo was rescued by Edwyn Sandys Dawes, the head of Gray Dawes & Co of London and financial control of the business moved to London. The following year the success of the company’s first ship powered by new, much more economical, quadruple expansion steam engines, provided a solution to the massive bunkers needed in the existing steamers on the long open-ocean voyage from New Zealand to the Falklands coaling facility.

In response to a subsidy pledge, in 1910 the company joined with Shaw, Savill & Albion and White Star Line to take over the Canadian Australian Line and with them started services from NZ and Australia to Canada. NZSCo took over the Federal Steam Navigation Company in 1912, leaving the existing management in office. One of the main reasons for the merger was to enable NZSCo to gain access to the Australian market. In 1916 New Zealand Shipping Co was itself taken over by P & O but continued to operate independently under its old name.

At the outbreak of WW1 NZSCo owned a fleet of 21 steamers. The line lost at 5 ships during the war. During the war, sailings from New Zealand to UK were re-routed via the Panama Canal, which opened in 1914. The fleet was rebuilt after the war, but during WW2 the company lost 9 more ships to enemy action. Again the fleet was rebuilt and for the first time, common designs were used for NZSCo and Federal ships. By the end of the fifties the fleet consisted of 5 passenger liners, 10 refrigerated cargo liners and 5 cargo ships.

During the sixties however, P & O decided that there was little justification for the continuation of two P & O companies in the trade. In 1966 the NZSCo ships were painted in Federal colours and in the following year they were all transferred to Federal ownership.


Vessel Type Launched/Completed Tonnage DWT Builder
Haparangi Cargo 264,248 G. 20/02/1947. Yard No: 634 Gross: 11281 Net: 6650 14410 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Hauraki Cargo 264,248 G. Feb 1947. Yard No: 604 Gross: 11272 Net: 6638 14350 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Hororato Cargo 162,093 G. May 1942. Gross: 12089 Net: 7151 14246 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Hurunui Cargo / Passenger 266,305 G. 14/08/1947. Yard No: 105 Gross: 11276 Net: 6640 14940 Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. Newcastle
Kaimata No Info
Opawa Cargo / Passenger 268,9305 G. 05/11/1906. Yard No: 774 Gross: 7230 Net: 4588 10620 Wm. Denny & Bros. Ltd. Dumbarton
Orari Cargo 248,325 G. Feb 1931. Yard No: 531 Gross: 10626 Net: 6396 12585 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Otaio Cargo 429,300 R. 09/12/1957. Yard No: 709 Gross: 12997 Net: 6483 13725 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Piako Cargo 189,270 G. Oct 1961. Yard No: 676 Gross: 9986 Net: 5552 10290 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Pipiriki Cargo 623,300 G. 16/03/1944. Yard No: 597 Gross: 10065 Net: 5928 9785 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Rakaia Cargo / Passenger 367,902 R. June 1945. Yard No: 1230 Gross: 8213 Net: 4350 9633 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Rangitane Cargo / Passenger 431,000 R. 27/05/1929. Gross: 16712 Net: 1029 14100 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Rangitane Cargo / Passenger 494,570 R. 30/06/1949. Yard No: 648 Gross: 21867 Net: 12423 14700 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Rangitata Cargo / Passenger 400,327 R. 26/03/1926. Yard No: 517 Gross: 16969 Net: 9884 12948 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Rangitiki Cargo / Passenger 418,000 R. 1929 Gross: 16698 Net: 10300 14100 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Rangitoto Cargo / Passenger 494,575 R. 12/06/1949. Yard No: 109 Gross: 21809 Net: 12379 15000 Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. Newcastle
Remuera Cargo / Passenger 446,180 G. 25/02/1947. Yard No: 1331 Gross: 13619 Net: 7424 11500 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Rimutaka Cargo / Passenger 207,890 G. 11/10/1900. Yard No: 634 Gross: 7765 Net: 4983 9570 Wm. Denny & Bros. Ltd. Dumbarton
Rotorua Cargo / Passenger 622,000 G. 27/04/1911. Gross: 11911 Net: 7817 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Ruahine No Info
Ruapehu Cargo / Passenger 197,6500 G. 21/02/1901. Yard No: 639 Gross: 7705 Net: 4943 9230 Wm. Denny & Bros. Ltd. Dumbarton
Tasmania No Info
Tekoa Cargo 164,769 G. March 1922. Yard No: 626 Gross: 9495 Net: 5270 11700 Earles SB & E Co. Ltd. Hull
Tongariro Cargo 656,000 G. 25/02/1925. Gross: 8719 Net: 5472 Wm. Hamilton & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Turakina No Info 1923??
Wharanui Cargo 422,950 G. Sept 1956. Yard No: 683 Gross: 8701 Net: 4907 10300 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank

Website designed and coded by Brian Watson using HTML & CSS.
I can be contacted via Feedback