On April 10, 1968, the Wahine inter-island ferry, travelling from Lyttleton to Wellington, was caught in a violent storm and the skipper decided to make a run for the safety of the Wellington Harbour, but the winds caught the ship as she entered port and blew her onto rocks just inside the harbour entrance. The Wahine was holed and began to list and sink. Here is an account of the incident from the following web site -
Wellington Harbour Tragedy
The sinking of the Lytteton–Wellington ferry Wahine on 10 April 1968 was New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster. Fifty-one people lost their lives that day, another died several weeks later and a 53rd victim died in 1990 from injuries sustained in the wreck. The Wahine’s demise also marked a coming of age for television news broadcasting in New Zealand as images of the disaster were beamed into the nation’s living rooms. The footage was later screened around the world as the international media spotlight focused on Wellington.Would-be rescuers stood helplessly on the beach at Seatoun as the Wahine succumbed to one of the worst storms recorded in New Zealand history. It seemed impossible that so many lives could be lost so close to shore. Although the main cause of the accident was the atrocious weather conditions, the subsequent inquest also acknowledged that errors of judgement had been made both on board the ferry and on shore. Shipwrecks were commonplace in the 19th century, but this was the 1960s – how could a large, modern vessel founder almost within sight of New Zealand’s capital city?
The plaque picture above was taken beside the beach at Eastbourne where most of the bodies of the victims who died were washed ashore.
Blame for this accident was attributed to no one and was just an unfortunate incident due to the wild weather.