[From the Lennox Herald and New Zealand Times, February 1880] . . . The Te Anau . . . brings the number up to the seventeenth vessel now belonging to this energetic and prosperous steamship company . . . Her fittings and appointments are of the most complete and luxurious description. On the top deck, besides the officers’ and engineers’ cabins and mess rooms amidships, there is a spacious and comfortable room for enjoying ‘the wee’ [a smoke]. There is also an apartment called the Bridal Chamber, fitted up exclusively for young couples taking a tour. This apartment is richly furnished and decorated in a chaste manner, having pretty panels and elegant cornices, supported by cupids and love birds. Then, coming up from the saloon, you are landed on a platform which leads into the special hall, 16 ft long, and set apart specially for the amusement of the passengers. Amongst the furnishings here is an elegant grand piano, surmounted by a large mirror . . . the windows are of stained glass, curtained with red silk curtains, and the lounge sofas are of Utrecht velvet. The lamps, locks, etc of this room, as also of the other rooms, are all of silver.

Descending, we come to the chief attraction of this handsome vessel, namely the saloon, which occupies the whole of the main deck behind the engines, whilst forward for three-fourths of her length are the staterooms for the sleeping accommodation of her passengers. The saloon is fitted up in the Grecian style of decorative art: . . . the double panels are of maple, the mouldings are cedar and satinwood, and there is a band of mahogany between each half panel. The columns are fluted, filled in with gold, whilst the cornices are likewise gilded. Here tables are set down which will accommodate about 90 to dinner.

The staterooms, which branch out forward, will accommodate about 130 first-class passengers. Each room has a wash-hand basin, whilst all have pneumatic bells communicating with the pantry. The second cabin is situated forward, and gives accommodation to about 85 second-class passengers. [The ship] is built entirely of steel, with watertight bulkheads and a double bottom aft for water ballast.

On the 14th December, 1879, the Te Anau made her trial trip on the Clyde. With a deadweight of 1100 tons on board, she ran the measured mile at 13 knots.

Arrival Of The Te Anau At Wellington: The signals on Mount Victoria at 7 o'clock yesterday morning [20 February, 1880] denoted that one of the Union Company’s steamers from the south was inside the Heads. . . . By 8 o'clock she was moored along the outer tee of the wharf and was at once boarded by the general public who proceeded on a tour of inspection through the vessel, the saloon where the passengers were at breakfast forming no exception. . . . it was roughly estimated that 3000 persons had visited the vessel. The Te Anau is under the command of Captain Carey.

In March 1880, the Te Anau was disabled in a fearful cyclonic gale, which extended from Bluff in the South to Mercury Bay in the north. At midnight on March 7, 370 miles from Bluff, steaming against wind and tide, [she lost one of her propeller blades]. The violent oscillation [vibration] caused all the passengers to start from their beds. There was nothing for it but to set sail and return to Bluff.

The Te Anau encountered other rough voyages during her service career of over 40 years. In 1884 she took 27 hours to travel from Lyttelton to Wellington, 175 nautical miles. The Te Anau carried passengers and cargo between Australia and New Zealand, and was later engaged mainly in New Zealand costal trade. The vessel was dismantled in 1924, and the hull was sunk at Wanganui as part of the harbour improvement plan.


[from A Century of Style, Great Ships of the Union Line, 1875-1916]