Have you seen the world's ninth-oldest surviving ship?

30 November 2015

Category: History


These days, international tourists hoping to experience the natural splendour of New Zealand can simply pop on board a luxury aircraft, soar into the blue skies and arrive at one of our many airports in but a few hours. However, our earliest travellers did not have it quite so easy. Indeed, the 1800s - when wave upon wave of European settlers made the long journey around the world - is full of tragic tales of the high seas. Though most of the ships from this era are now long gone, there is a unique example sitting in a Picton dry dock, just waiting for you to explore...

The story of a fox

Once, there was an elegant vessel by the name of the Edwin Fox carving its way through the ocean waves. It was constructed as a trading ship in Calcutta all the way back in 1853, and bore a design based on the classic East India Trading Company boats made in London (a reliable, if not old-fashioned hull shape).

The Fox made her life in many ways over the years. She bore troops to the Siege of Sevastopol in the Crimean War, ferried beer into Bombay, brought convicts to Fremantle, Western Australia and finally made the long voyage from England to New Zealand with settlers on board - a journey of around 100, generally miserable days. Her life ended as steam-powered vessels overtook the need for sailing ships, leading to a somewhat tragic end for this old boat.

Visiting one of the world's oldest ships

You might be curious to visit this antique vessel to see it for yourself. Well, you're in luck, as you can do just that on your next adventure through Picton. The Edwin Fox Society purchased the ship for just one shilling back in the 1960s, and worked hard to build her a dry dock that would act as a final resting place. She's now completely open to the public at Dunbar Wharf, where keen history buffs can explore her inner bowels, see the ancient woodwork, read up on the history and catch a glimpse at what life on board must have been like nearly 200 years ago.

How do I get to Picton?

To get to this stunning South Island township, we recommend booking a holiday on the KiwiRail Scenic Coastal Pacific NZ train journey. You can begin this at either Wellington or Christchurch, taking the ferry across Cook Strait to witness the Marlborough Sounds, or weaving your way up the coast to see Kaikoura, Blenheim and the pristine wine country that surrounds the area.