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First Whaleships to New Zealand

New Zealand Electronic Text Centre

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The Journals of Captain Cook
The Journals of Captain Cook
The Birth of Sydney
The Birth of Sydney
Hell-Hole of the Pacific
Hell-Hole of the Pacific
The Fatal Shore
The Fatal Shore
"The history of the birth of Australia which came out of the suffering and brutality of England's infamous convict transportation system. "
"Blending together the writings of early Australian settlers, leaders, and explorers, "The Birth of Sydney" editor Flannery constructs a compelling narrative history..."
From Kororareka to Russel, the story of a small town in the Bay of Islands that played a large part in New Zealand history.
"Captain Cook's Journals provide his vivid first-hand account of three extraordinary expeditions between 1768 and 1779."
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Te Pahi
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My Ancestor's Story

Story.001
John Lidiard
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"The swamp Kauri used to craft this product has been recovered from the swamps of Northland, New Zealand."
 
Argo
Ann
Atalanta
Arab
Asp
Astrolabe
Alfred
Antarctic
Australian

Argo
In 1805 the young son of a New Zealand chief Ruatara joined the crew of whaler Argo keen for adventure.  After being left alone and penniless in Sydney by an unscrupulous captain, Ruatara joined the crew of Albion to return to New Zealand after a six month whaling voyage. This was to be just the beginning of the future chiefs adventures despite the fact he only lived to 25. 
Ann
First in Australia in 1805, it wasn't until five years later that Ann made a fleeting call at the Bay of Islands. Her captain had not changed during this time and James Gwynn was still at the helm in 1812 when Ann was again whaling off the coast of New Zealand.  There were possibly three different ships by the name of Ann in the early days of South Seas voyages, but by 1817 Captain Wilkinson had command of James Gwynn's ship when she called at the Bay early in the year. In November 1817 Wilkinson and Ann were back in the Bay during an 18 month whaling voyage and she called again in February of 1819 before returning home. Her next captain was Lowry who turned the ship around after just two months in port and set sail from Deal for the South Seas in September 1819. When Ann arrived back at the Bay at the end of February 1820 she was there for the historic visit of Samuel Marsden aboard HMS Dromedary. Ann made several calls at the Bay of Islands to take on water and food during 1820 and 1821 and in December of 1821 she was said to be full and ready to head for England having taken 2300 barrels of whale oil. It was Captain Gray who sailed Ann on her next South Seas whaling voyage. This journey lasted three years and Ann once more had a full cargo when she departed the Bay of Islands for London in March 1828. This may not have been her last trip for in April of 1829 a whaling vessel called Ann visited New Zealand under Captain Christie on her way to the fishery.
Atalanta
One of the six ships that took part in the mistaken and tragic attack on Te Pahi's island pa in the Bay of Islands as revenge for the massacre of those onboard the Boyd at Whangaroa Harbour the previous December. Two weeks later Atalanta sailed back to England.
Arab
Arab made at least three voyages to the South Seas from 1816 onwards before being reported as working off the coast of New Zealand in late 1821 and making a visit to the Bay of Islands in February 1822.
Asp
Asp had already made several voyages to the South Seas between 1816 and 1820 under Captain Kenny before Captain William Brind brought her to the Bay of Islands in December 1822. Brind was by now a familiar figure in the Bay of Islands and became much involved in many events there that remain historically important today. In 1823 Captain Brind made four whaling voyages interspersed with visits back to his base near Kororareka. However in 1824 he embarked on a much longer voyage to the whaling grounds of Japan and was away for the first nine months of the year. No sooner had Asp returned to new Zealand then Brind sailed her on to Sydney before making a short stop at the Bay on his way back to England where he traded in Asp for his new ship Emily.
Astrolabe
Formerly known as Coquille, the French ship Astrolabe brought Jules Durmont d'Urville, on his second visit to New Zealand in 1827. D'Urville's previous visit had been on the same ship three years earlier under the command of Louis Duperrey at which time they had been looking into establishing a French penal colony in New Zealand. This time, with d'Urville in charge, Astrolabe spent most of her time around the top of the South Island and along the east coast of the North Island.  D'Urville had doubts about the charts of Captain Cook, and after spending much time making his own, came away with the most comprehensive coastline maps of New Zealand since European discovery. On March 12 Astrolabe entered the Bay of Islands, and d'Urville immediately noticed that the once thriving Maori settlement of Kawhira Pa at Paroa on the south side of the bay was now abandoned. Astrolabe spent six days in the Bay of Islands taking on food and water before she set sail for Tonga.
Alfred
Whaler commanded by Captain Banks, called at the Bay of Islands in May of 1828 on her way to the fishery.
Astrolabe In French Pass by Louis Auguste de Sainson.  Image courtesy of www.prints.co.nz
Antarctic
Described by one who saw her as being in near perfect shipshape, Antarctic was a US schooner, captained by Benjamin Morrell with a crew of men mostly from Manilla. Having been around the south coast of New Zealand during the summer of 1829/30, Captain Morrell's wife was the first European woman to have visited Auckland Islands.  Only three decades after the sealing trade had begun Captain Morrell reported that there was not a fur seal to be seen on Auckland Islands, and that he had sighted just five living sea lions. His impressions of Port Ross were favourable though and he named it as a fair prospect for settlement when he returned to the US. In early January Antartic paid a visit to Port Pegasus on Stewart Island where a shipbuilding gang were working with a vessel on the stocks.  A few days later when Morrell sailed his ship to Molyneaux he reported finding a native settlement he described as very primative. 
Australian
Captained by three men whose names live on in New Zealand history, Australian (sometimes recorded as Australia) was a new barque when she left Sydney on December 29 1829. Her owners Cooper & Levy had commissioned the south seas sailing stalwart Captain Grono to lead her on her first whaling expedition.  Australian's next voyage also for the south seas fisheries left Sydney on 21 August 1831, this time in the hands of Captain Catlin. When she returned to port 18 months later, she had on board 80 tons of sperm oil. Australian's next captain was W.B. Rhodes who brought her into Port Cooper on the north side of Banks Peninsula on 16 July 1836. In 1837 Captain Rhodes noted his sailor's delight that the local Maori women in Cloudy Bay came to stay aboard their ship.
Port Levy, named after one of the Sydney entrepeneurs who established the whaling and trading company Cooper & Levy.
Amity
Amity was a whaler that worked off the coast of the South Island in the early 1830's.  In the winter of 1832 she sailed from Otago to Cloudy Bay and by August 3 her crew had taken five whales.  After the whaling season she returned to Australia and when she left Hobart the following winter bound for another whaling voyage to New Zealand, her captain was W Lovett.  Following the same path as the year before, Amity first called at Otago where much to her captain's dismay she lost some of her men.  Amity's next stop was Cloudy Bay and at the end of the whaling season Captain Lovett sailed her back to Hobart Town where she arrived on September 6 with fifty tuns of sperm oil, eleven tuns of black oil and eleven of whalebone.  On August 15 1834 Amity, under Captain white, sailed for New Zealand with passengers John Campbell, Mrs White and Mrs Lambe.
Amethyst
In April of 1840 three American whaling ships were anchored at the Auckland Islands which were considered an American whaling resort, albeit a very cold one.  One of those ships was Amethyst which sailed a short time later for Bluff, another haven for American captains their ships, and crew.
Amazon
It was a short but adventurous life for the 130 ton schooner Amazon which has the distinction of being the first ship built at Jacob's River, now known as Riverton.  Captain John Howell who had established a settlement at Jacob's River had the ship built in the late 1840's. Burr Osborn, better known as Yankee Jack who was enlisted with the help of Lewis Acker, was sawing timber and rafting it across to the building site.  As soon as she was finished Howell sailed her to Tahiti with local character Paddy Gilroy as second mate and Bill Dallas as ship's carpenter.  One of New Zealand's earliest settlers and whaler John Lidiard later recalled Amazon as being completed in 1845 and having been working on her when she arrived at Port Nicholson in 1846.  In 1852 many of the menfolk were absent from the Foveaux Strait area, having sailed on the Amazon for California to try their luck in the gold diggings there.  In August of that year, back home safely to New Zealand, the little ship Amazon was totally wrecked at Bluff with no loss of life.
Amity
Amethyst
Amazon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Click on the name of the ship to read more about it.  If you are able to add more information, are seeking information or are connected to any of these ships through your ancestory, please submit a comment.

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