The Minaret Station barge's pusher boat this week at
Waterfall Creek, where it is undergoing routine maintenance
work as part of its first out-of-water survey in 18 years.
Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
For the first time since its launch in Lake Wanaka almost
18 years ago, the pusher boat for the Minaret Station barge was
taken out of the water this week to be surveyed.
The 15m by 6m, 65-tonne vessel has attracted plenty of
attention from the public since being transferred to the lake
shore at Waterfall Creek on Tuesday, via a purpose-built 16
tonne trailer. The barge itself - the largest vessel to have
plied the waters of Lake Wanaka at 50m long, 10m wide, and
weighing 200 tonnes - is moored a few metres away, waiting
for its motorised companion to be given a clean bill of
Minaret Station farmer Jonathan Wallis said the pusher boat
required out-of-water surveys every four years. However,
until now, it had operated on exemptions. Survey requirements
were met using divers and ultrasound.
This week had been a ''prudent time'' for it to come out of
the water, and with its survey and routine maintenance work
now complete, the pusher boat would be reattached to the
barge today to guide it back to the station, Mr Wallis said.
The boat would be taken out of the lake again in a couple of
months for more significant alterations which would ''make it
more suitable for a rough Lake Wanaka on a nor'west day''.
The out-of-water survey had been a major exercise and ''a
significant capital undertaking'', Mr Wallis said.
''To be honest, it was a bit nerve-racking but it was quite
exciting ... you're doing something that's never been done,
so you've got to rely on what the engineers have advised and
I take my hat off to all involved.''
The vessel was bought in 1995 by Mr Wallis' father, Sir Tim
Wallis, as an ex-gravel barge from the Clyde Dam project.
After being moved from the Clutha River, it was reassembled
at Waterfall Creek by Bob Oldham, amid much controversy over
the use of public land for its reconstruction.
It was launched on September 1995 and since then, has been an
essential part of Minaret's operations, ferrying equipment
and stock trucks to and from the station at the head of Lake
It can carry 1000 tonnes, or six fully laden truck and
trailer units, and operates for about 400 hours a year. When
off-duty, it is usually moored in Snag Bay on Minaret
Station, although it was used to carry cars between Camp
Creek and the head of the lake when the road washed out in
1998 and more recently, it carted machinery and building
materials for the construction of a new public pontoon on
It has been a launching pad for fireworks during local
celebrations and helicopters ferrying competitors in past
World Heli Challenge events.