Busy at work, dismembering whales, Whangamumu, circa 1930s
After visiting our friends in Whangaroa, we sailed south along the beautiful North Island coastline, passing the Hole-In-The-Wall near the south entrance to the Bay of Islands, where we originally arrived in NZ. Then onto the Whangamumu Harbour where there’s an old whaling station. This station was differnt than most as they used nets to snag the whales and drag them in to be turned into whale oil and various parts. The system was good enough to get 10 or 20 whales a year starting in 1844.
My favorite part – the rusty stuff. This is whats left of the boiler used to heat steam for the rendering vats.
The staion was on this stream to supply clean water, although I bet the water downstream was pretty ugly during rendering activities.
You can just make out the sunk remains of the wharf in the water where the top picture on this blog was taken. That’s Georgia anchored in the background.
In 1910 the harpon armed ship Hananui was put into service, upping the annual whale kill considerably. Net whaling was abandoned. The station pretty much shutdown in the 1930s when the market price for whale oil cratered during the world wide depression. It was re-built and re-opend in the 1940s. The ship Niagra sunk nearby and left a crude oil slip in the area that caused the whales to avoid it and leading to it’s premenant closure.
When thinking about the good old days, think how nice it would be if we could go back to lighting our houses with whale oil instead of fossil fuels. But if you like rusty stuff and a glimpse into history, the whaling station is definately worth a visit.