The Tararua had left from Port Chalmers at 5pm 28th April 1881 bound for Melbourne via Bluff and Hobart. About 5am the following morning the Tararua struck a reef off Waipapa Point, about three quarters of a mile from shore. The engines were reversed but were stopped almost immediately as it became apparent that the impact had unshipped the rudder and broken the propeller. Ten minutes after striking the steamer had filled with water.

Various attempts to launch lifeboatsĀ  and find a way to land ashore or on the reef itself were made. By 2pm the Tararua was starting to break apart. It appeared that about 2.35am the following morning the ship broke up and by daybreak the steamer had sunk almost out of sight.

Of the 151 on board, 131 perished and about 74 bodies were recovered. Due to remote location most the bodies were buried in an area behind the sandhills on Otara Beach, what is now known as the Tararua Acre. 55 people were buried here while others were buried at the Fortrose Cemetery, 10km to the NW.

The Tararua, No. 50,088, 692 tons gross and 523 tons net. Alterations increased tonnage to gross 828 tons and 563 net.
Built at Dundee in 1864 by Gourlay Brothers and Company.
Length 222.6ft, beam 28ft., depth 16.2ft.

Wreck of the Tararua

Drawing of the SS Tararua as appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

Joomla templates by a4joomla