Owhiro Bay

Shipwrecks abundant in Wellington

The wreck of the Wahine is salvaged in 1968

From The Dominion Post

All along Wellington's stormy South Coast lie the victims of howling gales and bad decisions. Swamped by monstrous waves or steered blindly on to rocks, shipwrecks dot the bays and inlets, sheltering slices of history and plenty of crayfish.

Owhiro Bay, a treasure trove of four easily accessible wrecks, is a popular spot for novice divers.

Dave Drane, who owns Splash Gordon dive centre in Island Bay and has been diving in Wellington waters for more than 20 years, says the Yung Pen is a good wreck for beginner divers to test the waters.

"It's a nice easy shore dive: you just walk off the beach about seven metres, so it's a good one for new divers."

The Yung Pen is one of Wellington's youngest wrecks, a squid boat that sank in 1982. Owhiro Bay is also home to the Cyrus and the Wellington, which went down on the same day, and the Progress, which took four of its crew down with it when it sank in 1931.

The four wrecks in Owhiro Bay can be covered in a couple of diving trips, Mr Drane says, and provide a variety of wreck-diving experiences.

"They're all in different states. There are wrecks everywhere in Wellington. We do wreck trails, taking people from one to the other."

Some wrecks, especially those that sank many years ago, are little more than nuts and bolts now pieces of metal and wood that only the trained eye would recognise as once being part of a ship.

But there are several nearly intact hulls down there too, that divers can venture inside if they know what they're doing.

"The Wellington F69 frigate broke up into three pieces, which was a shame, but you can still go into parts of it," Mr Drane says. "The Yung Pen is still intact, and the South Sea you can peek in but the sea is so unforgiving."