The coastlines of Hauraki Gulf islands were once used as dumping grounds for obsolete ships. With rapid changes in technology, ships quickly became outdated and uneconomic to maintain.
Nowadays, obsolete vessels can be cut up and the materials recycled, but in the past disposing of unwanted vessels was a problem. The easiest solution was to drive them ashore where they would be out of sight, and leave them to rot or rust away.
Wreck Bay and the adjacent coastline of Rangitoto is a graveyard for at least 13 ships that were dumped on the island between 1887 and 1947.
Some of the older vessels that were made of timber were burnt to the waterline. Later wrecks provided a rich resource for the island's handful of bach owners, who descended on the hulks and stripped them of fittings and timber to incorporate into their holiday homes.
Over the years, the hulks have gradually deteriorated and been broken up by wave action. Some large pieces of wreckage remain on the foreshore, or in the intertidal zone, at Wreck Bay, Boulder Bay, and along the adjacent coastline. In many cases it is difficult to work out which ship the wreckage has come from.
These pages contain further information and pictures showing what the ships once looked like. We'll add further information, and photos of the wreckage today as it is identified:
The Rangitoto hulks are now a regionally significant heritage site and are protected by the Auckland Regional Council and Department of Conservation. Please do not remove or disturb any of the remains.
There is an on-site information panel at Wreck Bay. The wrecks are best visited at low tide. The deeper wreckage just offshore attracts a variety of fish and other marine life and can be appreciated by snorkelling or scuba diving.
Please enjoy your visit, but do not disturb, damage or remove any part of the site.
Rangitoto Island wrecks