On the weekend of 3-4 May 1997 members of the Maritime Archaeological Association of New Zealand (MAANZ) undertook an investigation of the wreck of the vessel HYDRABAD. The HYDRABAD is located on the beach near Waitarere township, on the Kapiti Coast, approximately 170 km north of Wellington. It is located at grid reference S25 954690. The New Zealand Archaeological Association record number is S25158.
This investigation of an archaeological site was undertaken in accordance with permit 19961119 granted by the NZ Historic Places Trust. This report is provided in fulfillment of one of the requirements of this permit.
The HYDRABAD was built in 1865 in Port Glasgow, Scotland. At the time of her wrecking Stephens and Sons, London, owned her. While bound for Adelaide, Australia from Lyttelton, New Zealand, the ship struck a severe storm on 24 June 1878, and was beached on Waitarere beach. Captain Holmwood deliberately drove the vessel onto the beach, hoping to give the crew and passengers a better chance of survival. This was successful, as there was no loss of life. There were two attempts, in November 1878 and 7 January 1879 to refloat the ship; these were unsuccessful. The vessel was abandoned following fire that was so fierce that the hull planks were buckled. She was insured for £15,000 and her cargo for £24,500.
The HYDRABAD was a square-rigged ship of 1350 tons register. Her official number was 30642 of 1865.' She was built of Lowmoor iron, and had three masts in a ship rig. She was 229.5 feet [69.9 metres] long, beam was 37.2 feet [11.2 metres] and depth was 23.2 feet [7 metres] (Ingram 1977:187). There were two holds. She had a Hindu warrior as figurehead, with a colourful turban, sash and flowing white robe, and a black bushy beard. His left hand was gripping a sword. In fitting the interior of the vessel "no expenses were spared, carved teak panels, ornate cabin lamps and engraved silverware furnished the officer's accommodation and the passengers' cabins at the stem of the ship" (Church, 1978:14).
Successive storms and dynamic beach action have left the wreck well above high water mark. The wreck is now inundated with sand, and is periodically uncovered and recovered through storm and wind action. The wreck itself may be seen as a graphic indicator of the nature of this stretch of coastline, with its present distance from the high water mark (Refer figure 4).
The community of Waitarere, the town closest to the wreck, has in recent years expressed both concern at the deterioration of the wreck and a desire to create a HYDRABAD memorial within the town which would possibly incorporate some or all of the wreck. The Waitarere Beach Progressive and Ratepayers Association invited MAANZ to undertake an investigation of the wreck to help in the decision making on its future and the possibility of a memorial.
The objectives of the planned work were:
1. assess the current state and stability of the site;
2. assess how much material remains;
3. accurately map the wreck at this point in time and
4. take samples of the wreck material to assess the composition of the metal.