In the 1970s, hovercraft were the new thing: touted at the answer to travelling across water and directly onto the beach.
A HM2-type hovercraft named Wakatere did the Matiatia run briefly in the late 1970s. Ongoing operational hassles, including engine breakdowns and the skirts getting torn, meant the service didn’t – couldn’t – last. Also the high fuel consumption and small passenger carrying capacity of the Wakatere, made her a poor business prospect in the years of the oil shock and rising petrol prices.
Wakatere had been built in England, and at first ran on Sydney Harbour, before being sold to a Hobart operation in 1975.
She was bought by the North Shore Ferries Group and shipped here across the Tasman. Wakatere started the Matiatia run in March 1978, but was withdrawn in April 1979.
She was sold in 1982, renamed Sea Eagle, but never got back to the water.
Builder and date: Hovermarine, Southampton, UK, 1973
Gross tons: 19
Engines: 2 Cummins
Speed: 30 knots