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New Zealand Shipping Co
NZSC Header Page
This is the header page for a series devoted to postcards and photographs of the New Zealand Shipping Company (NZSC). A list of pages covering the NZSC is shown below. Below this is a table of individual ship histories.
The New Zealand Shipping Company (NZSC) was formed in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1873. They initially purchased four sailing ships, followed by 12 more built new for the company in the years up to 1877. All were just over 1000 gross tons. Two further secondhand sailing ships were also acquired in 1876 and 1882. Many additional ships were chartered, chartered tonnage often outnumbering owned ships in the ratio two-to-one. The passage times between London and New Zealand for sailing ships were between 74 and a 100 days.
Following pressure from the New Zealand Government, the NZSC and Shaw Savill jointly chartered the Stad Haarlem for an experimental return trip in 1879. She ran with a full complement of 600 passengers in both directions, taking 57 days from London to Lyttelton via Capetown. Despite the operational success, the voyage was not profitable, and no additional subsidies were on offer to run steamships. The Government continued to push for a steam service, which they thought would encourage a more "suitable class" of immigrants, plus it would provide a more reliable service for their frozen meat exports. Despite not liking steamships, the NZSC chartered the Fenstanton in 1883, to inaugurate the first steamship service from the UK to New Zealand. Fenstanton was followed by the larger British King, built by Harland & Wolff. The NZSC also chartered the White Star Line's Ionic and Doric, both of which remained of the service with Shaw Savill. The NZSC then signed a charter with the Government to run a regularly monthly service (jointly with Shaw Savill). Five new ships were ordered from J.Elder and Co (later the Fairfield Shipbuilding Company). The ships were named after New Zealand mountains:- Tongariro, Aorangi, Ruapehu, Kaikoura and Rimutaka (1), all just under 4500 gross tons. All had clipper bows, and were barque-rigged. They travelled out via the Cape of Good Hope, and back via Cape Horn, as the sailing clippers had done, but more than halved the passage times. Whereas the sailing ships frequently sighted no land between the UK and New Zealand, the steamers stopped at Plymouth, Teneriffe, Capetown and Hobart on the outward journey, and at Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro and Teneriffe on the return. These routes were maintained until 1914, when the Panama Canal opened.
The early 1890s were a time of depressed trade, and the NZSC found itself embarrassed by many difficulties and troubles. In 1890, Mr (later Sir) Edwyn Dawes took over a a considerable number of shares in the NZSC from Sir William Pearce, and it was Edwyn Dawes who steered the company to successful solutions to its problems. He also transferred the financial control of the company from New Zealand to London. His reorganisation of the company involved the replacement of the existing fleet with larger, more economic ships, the first of which was the Ruahine (1) of 1891, which was over 6000 gross tons. She had a four-cylinder engine which was far more fuel-efficient than the previous ships. Ruahine (1) was a great success, and was followed by six even larger ships over the next ten years.
In 1912 the NZSC took over the Federal SN Co, but the two concerns retained their own identities. In 1916, both companies became part of P&O, but again they continued to operate separately, although the exchange of ships between constituent P&O companies became common. At the end of the First World War, the NZSC had only four passenger ships remaining. To maintain the regular monthly service, a fifth ship was needed, so the Shropshire of the Federal SN Co was rebuilt with extra passenger facilities as the Rotorua (2).
In 1929, the three magnificent 16000 ton motor ships Rangitane (1), Rangitata and Rangitiki (2) were delivered. They were followed by three equally fine motor cargo ships of 11000 tons in 1931, thoroughly modernising the NZSC fleet. The P&O liner Mongolia was chartered in 1938 as the Rimutaka (3). Rangitane (1) did not survive the Second World War, but her sisters ran until 1962 alongside the three fine new liners Rangitoto, Rangitane (2) and Ruahine (3), which were delivered between 1949 and 1951. They were joined briefly by the ex-Cunard liner Remuera (3) in 1962, following the withdrawal of the 1929 sisters, bit all passenger services ceased in 1969. Towards the ends of their lives, the NZSC passenger and cargo ships adopted Federal funnel colours. In 1973, all remaining NZSC and Federal ships were amalgamated into the main P&O fleet.
NZSC Pages:-
NZSC Header Page - this page!
NZSC - Page 1 - 1873-1899
NZSC - Page 2 - 1900-1914
NZSC - Page 3 - 1915-1939
NZSC - Page 4 - 1940-1973
Associated Pages:-
P&O Header Page
Ferry Postcards
Cruise Ship Postcards
Ocean Liner Postcards
Simplon Postcards Home Page
Clipper Ship to Motor Liner (The Story of the New Zealand Shipping Co 1973-1939) - by Sydney D. Waters (1939)
New Zealand Shipping & Federal SN Companies - by Duncan Haws (1985)
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Table of Ship Histories


Other names

 Remuera  Parthia, Aramac

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