600 ton slipway still in use after 100 years

Thursday, July 30, 2015
600 ton slipway nearly completed, wide view looking east towards Freeman’s Bay and City

The year 2015 marks a centenary event for Auckland of the maritime kind. The 600 ton slipway in Westhaven was built by the Auckland Harbour Board to provide a maintenance access service for vessels up to 600 tons in displacement. The slipway was built to handle vessels up to 58 metres long and during her working life has seen a large variety of vessels.

The Harbour Board had planned for the slipway to be ready for use in 1914. The order for the haulage machinery was place in January 1914, but due to the onset of World War I the machinery to haul the vessels up the slipway did not arrived until November 1914.

The Northern Steamship Company’s SS NGATIAWA was the first ship to use the slipway, dressed for the occasion and watched by a crowd of people on the 19th February 1915.

The first log book was an exercise book, inserted into it are written notes on small pieces of paper giving work details for some of the vessels and also indicating the shortage of paper that occurred during WWI.

The week before the slipway opened the Auckland Graving Dock closed, which was destined for reclamation.  The Auckland Harbour Board were able to lengthen Quay Street to the west and build Princes Wharf in the 1920s.  In the 1970s would become the site for the Downtown Carpark and Copthorne Hotel.

The 600 ton slipway is now accessed at Orams Marine Services, Beaumont Street, Auckland.


The Port of Auckland New Zealand, official handbook, Auckland Harbour Board, 1915.

Annual statements of accounts and returns 1915, Auckland Harbour Board Archives, SN 47/9

600 ton slipway logbook, 1915-1941, Auckland Harbour Board Archives, SN 119/4

Photograph caption: - 600 ton slipway nearly completed, wide view looking east towards Freeman’s Bay and City / G.P. Steel, photographer

Auckland Harbour Board album 43, NZ Maritime Museum [19232]

Marleene Boyd - Librarian