Heritage Vessels

The Maritime Museum has a working fleet of four heritage vessels that form an active and integral part of our collection.

You can see and learn about the vessels while they're visiting, and on public sailings days you can enjoy the thrilling experience of sailing the Waitemata Harbour in a heritage vessel.

Ted Ashby

Ted Ashby is a ketch-rigged deck scow, typical of the fleet of scows that once operated in northern New Zealand waters.

Built by museum staff and volunteers in the traditional manner, she was launched in August 1993. Freightways Ltd sponsored her construction with assistance by many other firms.

Ted Ashby is built of blackbutt, an Australian hardwood grown in Northland, instead of the traditional kauri. She is fastened with galvanised steel bolts and spikes. The hull is framed with fore-and-aft bulkheads, known as partitions, and the bottom is cross-planked. Underwater the hull is sheathed in worm-resistant totara over tarred felt and schenam, a mixture of lime and oil.

Scows were flat-bottomed, centreboard vessels, most of which carried their cargo on deck. They were ideal for working estuaries and shallow harbours, and they carried logs, firewood, sand and shingle, machinery and stock. A few of the larger scows carried timber to Australia and America.

Scows ranged from 45 to 130 foot in length and most were two-masted, ketch or schooner rigged. The largest were three-masted. Some 130 scows were built in the north of New Zealand between 1873 and 1925. The first was the Lake Erie, based on the American Great Lakes scows. New Zealand scows quickly developed their own characteristic form and construction. Today only half a dozen survived.

The Maritime Museum chose to name the vessel after Ted Ashby, a man whose whole life was intimately involved with the scows, and the author of the book 'Phantom Fleet'.

Ted Ashby sailing times and days

11.30am and 1.30pm - Tuesday - Sunday

* We supply life jackets for children from 10kg up to the age of 14 years. Children under 10kg cannot join a Ted Ashby cruise. 

Book a heritage sailing on Ted Ashby


Nautilus has had a colourful life, travelling the world, since first being launched as family vessel used for picnics and racing in 1913. Since then she has run public excursions, ferry trips and charters and was involved in a rescue of a survivor from a tragic yachting accident. Nautilus was one of two motorboats carried by the hospital ship Marama during WWI which commenced duties in the Mediterranean in 1915. 

In 1913, Francis H.E. Chester who was based in Belfast, Christchurch had Nautilus built by prominent boat-builders, Collings and Bell, in St Mary’s Bay, Auckland. As part of a public campaign, spearheaded by the Governor General, in 1915, Chester offered her for use onboard the New Zealand hospital ship, Marama. When in service for the war, Marama was doing harrowing trips in the Mediterranean and across the English Channel. Nautilus undertook several trips back to New Zealand with recuperating soldiers, stopping at ports for coal and supplies along the way. 

Post WW1 she was quite quickly sold to Harry Hawker, who used Nautilus to run excursions for the public on the Avon River and Avon-Heathcote estuary in Lyttelton. Around 1925, Hawker sold her, and she seems to have mostly been used as a private launch from that point. Among her owners was E.E. Coombes who was Commodore of Banks Peninsula Cruising Club. Nautilus has been altered several times, including being lengthened by 4ft.

Further research is being carried out on her use as a private vessel between the late 1920s and when she was acquired by Allan Williams in 1994. While in his ownership, Williams refit Nautilus with a new engine and enjoyed 17 years of family boating before donating her to the New Zealand Maritime Museum in 2011.

Five years of labour have gone into the restoration by a team of passionate staff and volunteers, during which every plank and component has been carefully checked.

Nautilus sailing times and days

Monday 11.30am & 1.30pm

* We supply life jackets for children from 10kg up to the age of 14 years. Children must be able to fit the smallest size life jacket to board (approximately 8-10 kg).

Book a harbour cruise on Nautilus




Breeze is a traditional wooden sailing ship similar to vessels used for New Zealand coastal and inter-Dominion trades in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A brigantine, she has a square-rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged mainmast.

Launched in 1981, designer and builder Ralph Sewell intended to recreate a replica coastal trader built in the traditions of 19th century shipwrighting techniques, materials and construction faithful to her type and to that time. In time-honoured fashion, she is built of one diagonal and one fore and aft skin of kauri on sawn kauri stringers. The deck is two skins, one of kauri, one of totara. She is copper fastened and stiffened with carefully selected pohutukawa knees and sawn kauri floors. For modern conditions she is fitted with an auxiliary engine, and the main hold is fitted out as a cabin. Measuring 60 feet with a maximum beam of sixteen foot six and a draft of water of six foot she is neither a large or small boat.

Her powerful brigantine rig spreads up to 11 sails, seen at her best when she won the 1991 Tall Ships Race. Before coming to the Museum, Breeze was involved in sail training with the Breeze Sailing Club. In 1985 she sailed to Mururoa to protest French nuclear testing taking the place of Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior which had been sunk by French agents in Auckland.

Breeze is lovingly maintained and sailed by Museum volunteers. She undertakes annual journeys to the Bay of Islands and the Mahurangi Regatta, and her heritage features have been required for filming a number of historical television shows.


SS Puke

SS Puke, the museum’s steam launch, is thought to have been a tender in the Kaipara logging trade, built by E. Thompson and Son at Aratapu, towards the end of the 19th century. She is typical of the small craft used for local transport on the Kaipara and other Northland harbours and rivers.

In 1977 she was salvaged from the Tamaki river and had a steam engine and boiler installed. She worked for several years on the Waihou and Ohinemuri rivers from Paeroa and on the Mahurangi from Warkworth. In 1988 she carried passengers across the Brisbane river for the six months of the Brisbane World Expo. Puke was built of kauri and planked in two skins, the inner diagonal and the outer fore-&-aft. The plumb stem and counter stern and large propeller are typical of launches of the period.

In 1993 a major rebuild was carried out by the Boat Yard at Hobson Wharf. She was purchased by the Union Steam Ship Company in 1989 and then donated to the Maritime Museum.

SS Puke can be seen steaming around the Viaduct Harbour every second Sunday as part of the museum’s heritage fleet. She is available for charter for special occasions and has attended many wedding parties as a memorable alternative to modern transport.