The Magic agroundThe Wellington Dive Guide


Marine artifacts ...

MAHUNGA BAY WHARF			   circa 1895	
WW II SUBMARINE DEFENCE BOOM               circa 1942-3

Mahunga Bay Wharf:

The remnants of a wharf which served a Victorian era military fort.

In front of the NIWA facility in Mahunga Bay in about 6 m of water:

Britain and her colonies experienced two scares of war with Russia, one in 1876 and the other in 1885. The scares highlighted the poor state of defence in New Zealand at the time, Britain having withdrawn her Imperial troops some years previously. Along with other defence works around the country, Fort Balance was constructed above Point Gordon to protect the entrance to Wellington Harbour, most of the work being done in the period 1885-1911. No coast roads existed around the Miramar Peninsula to Point Gordon at the time, so a wharf was constructed in the shelter of Mahunga Bay to service Fort Balance. The fort remained in use up to the end of World War I and parts of it were used in World War II, however the wharf fell into disrepair and the piles were blasted in 1966? to remove their threat as a navigation hazard. Stumps of the piles are still visible.

Lyall Bay Communications Cables:

An armoured communications cable approximately 100 mm across.

Lying across a rocky reef approximately 1 km offshore from Lyall Bay in about 34 m of water:

One of a series of telegraph and telephone cables laid across Cook Strait between terminus stations at Lyall Bay and Whites Bay. In 1866 the ship Weymouth began a cable laying operation. A quarter of the way across the strait the cable snapped, however it was relocated and grabbed again at 1.5 miles offshore. Laying continued with a shorter length of cable, however the cable ran out 2.5 miles short of Whites Bay. 6 miles of cable was recovered. Eventually a full line was layed and it was connected on 26 AUG 1866.

WW II Submarine Defence Boom: Ward Island

Wooden pole structure and metal mesh net.

Wooden boom between Eastbourne and Ward Island.

Steel mesh net suspended across harbour channel between Ward Island and Point Gordon.

As a part of the defence of Wellington Harbour during WW II, anti-submarine measures were installed. On the neck of shallow water between Eastbourne and Ward Island a wooden pole structure was erected as a fence. Across the deep water of the main shipping channel a steel mesh suspended on steel floats was installed. Other defences included fixed minefields, remotely controlled mines, and underwater listening and detecting coils. Inner harbour defences were provided by minesweepers, one of which, the HMNZS South Sea, has remained in the area. At the conclusion of hostilities the floats on the suspended net appear to have been shot full of holes causing the net to sink into a heap on the bottom where it currently lies.

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