The first commercial car ferry service was started by J.C. Deeming. It was a matter of driving up the planks with guidance and care while the launch Doris kept the barge in position. In the 1930s the ferry operated from Paihia to Russell, before moving up harbour to calmer waters.
Opua was once an export port for coal, frozen meat and butter, the northern terminal of the railway line from Auckland. It is now a seaside retreat with yachts for charter and the terminal of the vehicle ferry service to the other side of the bay (Okiato) which saves a 40km drive around a winding road to Russell.
Today the behicle ferry Okiato has steel ramps at each end to make the drive on and off a hassle-free exercise.
Photos and text courtesy of Graham Stewart from his book:
- Portrait of a Nation published by Grantham House, Wellington.