ss tarawera

Situated on the Neck Peninsula, the site of the first settlement here on Rakiura/Stewart Island is Lowrys bay, a small cove where the wreck of the S.S. Tarawera lies. The 2000 ton, 95m screw steamer once sailed the coastal waters of New Zealand from 1883-1921, delivering cargo and taking passengers on scenic cruises until it sunk at the entrance of this small bay in 1933. All that remains today are sections of the metal hull protruding from the seafloor that make excellent homes for schools of fish and many other types of marine life. The wreck itself lies within Patterson Inlet/Te Whaka a Te Wera, a mataitai marine reserve that limits the recreational fishing by half and prohibits all commercial fishing, resulting in an exceptionally healthy ecosystem. This site is inhabited by a large variety of fin fish such as the Blue Moki and it’s relatives the Trumpeter (Kohikohi) and Copper Moki. There are also some schools of Greenbone or Butterfish (Marari) who live amongst large forests of bladder kelp that grow on rocky outcrops around the wreck. You may even be lucky to see Stewart Islands most sought after fish, the Blue Cod (Rawaru). Some other slightly less known fish live in this area as well with a few being the inquisitive and friendly Banded Wrasses (Tangahangaha), Spotty (Pakirikiri) and Leather Jacket (Kokiri). As well as holding good populations of fin fish, there are many different species of shellfish which can be seen living on the rocks. Lots of Blackfoot Paua (Abalone) and Kina (Sea Urchin) reside on rocky outcrops around the remains of the Tarawera and can be easily spotted whilst floating on the surface. While exploring this wreck and its surrounding rock reefs it can also be possible to spot the weird and wonderful as well, such as Octopus, Seven Arm Starfish, Brittle Stars and sometimes even Jellyfish. Just like most of the bays within Patterson Inlet it can be possible to have a visit from a New Zealand Sea Lion. This is a much welcomed site for us, as their playful behaviour and inquisitive nature makes them an amazing animal to be around the water. Labelled photos of the marine life and the snorkel location can be found in the gallery.