NEW ZEALAND's FAR NORTH
PHOTOGRAPHY by donhammondimage
The Wreck of the
William Denny ...
Early on the morning of July 24 1854, the residents of Auckland
were awakened by the sound of cannon echoing across the harbour.
With fears of a bombardment uppermost in mind many ventured to
the waterfront to find not an invading Russian Warship but a long
rakish steamer, the long awaited "William Denny" had arrived.
Auckland's first inter-colonial steamer was described as having
"powerful proportions". Her 60ft Saloon had skylights of rich
stained glass and 12, 2-berth cabins. The Saloon was lined with
imitation maple complete with gilt mouldings and scrolls along with
a well stocked Library and a fine piano. Marble washstands graced
the Ist Class Cabins. She boasted a "splendid cooking apparatus"
and on the Bridge a "Telegraph of the newest description". All in all,
the William Denny was the toast of the Auckland capital. During the
following years of 1855-56 the Denny gave extremely good service
and it was with great consternation that on March 2nd 1857, word
was received that she had gone aground at North Cape. Hopes were
lifted when it was known that she had grounded in a sheltered cove
and a diver found only a small hole where pierced by a rock. Salvage
expert from Australia, Mr Scott was engaged to make the repairs,
the work taking over 12 months to complete. In May 1858 with the
repairs finished the Denny was ready for re-launching. Fate was to
strike once more, for on 7th June a full force gale of hurricane
proportions struck, taking the vessel 30feet seaward. Over 2 days
the elements set about her destruction. The loss of the "William
Denny" was now complete.
Near a century and a half later her lines are
still visible, bulwarks and machinery softened by marine growth.
At the stern her three bladed propeller still sits at the end of the
shaft. Schools of fish life now patrol the wreck, trevally, Moki,
and Sand Daggers while Black Spotted Grouper peer from the
After 125 years the "William Denny" is still very much alive.