New Zealand Shipping Company - MS Rangitoto - Rangatani (2) - Ruahine (3) - SS Remuera (2)

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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Maritime Lecturer

Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed around 690 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure! Reuben Goossens.

New Zealand Shipping Company

Page Two

MS Rangitoto - Rangatani (2) - Ruahine (3) - SS Remuera (2)

With the success of the now aging Rangitiki and Rangitata, New Zealand Shipping Company decided to build three new ships, Rangitoto and Rangitane (2), both completed in 1949, and the smaller Ruahine completed 1951. These would be the final three ships to be built for NZSC. In 1962, these ships would be joined by the ex Cunard cargo-passenger liner SS Parthia, which was renamed Remuera.

MS Rangitoto & Rangitane (2)

Please Note: Photographs are from the author’s private collection unless stated otherwise.


The MS Rangitoto

Rangitoto was built by J. Brown & Company, Clydebank and was launched in January 1949. She was the first NZSC one class cargo-passenger liner, as the three previous “Rangi” ships were built with three classes.

An early NZSC postcard of the Rangitane

Rangitane was given this name in memory of the earlier two funnelled liner, which was torpedoed and sunk in 1940. Unlike the Rangitoto, Rangitane (2) was built by Vickers-Armstrongs, Newcastle.


Built: Rangitoto                Vickers-Armstrongs, Newcastle

Launched:                         January 12, 1949

Tonnage:                          21,867 GRT

Built: Rangitane:              John Brown and Co., Glasgow

Launched:                         June 30, 1949

Tonnage:                          21,809 GRT

Length:                             609ft

Width:                              78ft

Draft:                               32.1ft

Engines:                           Doxford type diesels

Propellers:                         Two

Service speed:                   16.5 knots

Passengers:                       436 one class – later 462

Passenger Decks:               4

Crew:                               270

Livery:                              Black hull, white superstructure, red boot-topping & yellow funnel. Later red and black, with the Federal flag

Service:                            London-Curacao-Panama-Papeete-Wellington-Auckland

Public rooms included: A (Boat deck). A Cocktail Bar was located forward, 2 Lounges, Cinema, dancing space and the Verandah café with the pool aft. The deck above was the main sports deck. B (Promenade deck) the Drawing Room was located forward with the Smoking Room located aft. The Dinning Room was located on D Deck.

She had 40 single cabins, 28 having bathrooms. 36 twin bedded cabins, with 22 having bathrooms. 37 two berth cabins, 8 with bathrooms, as well as 16 - 3 berth cabins, 19 - 4 berth cabins and 21 - 6 berth cabins. Six holds carried both traditional cargo as well as perishable good in refrigerated holds. In 1965 both ships had their mainmast (aft) removed and were transferred to Federal Steam Fleet, with their funnels repainted in their colours.

Rangitoto seen in 1965, with her mainmast removed and funnel pained in the her main mast removed Federal colours

With the arrival of P&O’s super liners, SS Oriana and Canberra, Federal Steam Navigation Company announced in 1968 that both Rangitoto and Rangitane would be withdrawn. Rangitane was the first to be sold to the breakers. Decommissioned and renamed Jan, she was to head for the breakers in Piraeus, Greece. However, instead she was sold to C.Y.Tung - Orient Overseas Line late in 1968, who gave her an extensive refit. Renamed Oriental Esmeralda she departed on her first round the World cruise in June 1969.

Oriental Esmeralda, ex Rangitane

Photograph by Brian Fisher

So successful was the refit of Oriental Esmeralda (Rangitane), C Y Tung decided to purchase her sister Rangitoto in August 1969. Both ships were reregistered in Liberia and the Rangitoto was renamed Oriental Carnaval and she soon joined her sister cruising the world out of the United States.


Oriental Carnaval is seen here on April 25, 1970 at Acapulco during her first e World Voyage for Orient Line originating from San Diego

Both ships operated world cruises until 1972 when sadly both ships were laid up in Hong Kong and were eventually sold in 1976 to Taiwanese breakers.

Oriental Carnaval, ex Rangitoto

Photograph by Brian Fisher


Ruahine (3)

The newer MS Ruahine

Photo by © Simplon - Visit

Ruahine was the third of the series, and she departed on her maiden voyage London to Wellington on May 22, 1951. She was a slightly smaller version of Rangitane and Rangitoto. With a moderately different layout, and she accommodated a smaller number of passengers than her larger sisters.

Just aft of 6 cabins located forward on Promenade Deck, there was a large Lounge, followed by a Library, Writing Room, Smoke Room and the Verandah Lounge with a dance floor. The pool was located aft. The spacious sports deck was above. One deck down also had a traditional outdoor covered promenade deck, as well as the children’s facilities. The full width Dinning Room was located on Main Deck.


Built:                                  John Brown and Co, Glasgow

Launched:                           December 11,, 1950

Tonnage:                            17,851 GRT

Length:                               584ft – 178m

Width:                                75ft – 22.9m

Draft:                                 30ft – 9.1m

Engines:                             Doxford type diesels

Propellers:                          Two

Service speed:                     17 knots

Passengers:                         310 one class

Passenger Decks:                 4

Crew:                                 200

Livery:                                Black hull, white superstructure, red boot-topping & yellow funnel. Later red and black, with the Federal flag

Service:                              London-Curacao-Panama-Papeete-Wellington-Auckland

She had six holds, with a capacity of 155,857cu ft, carried both traditional cargo as well as perishable good in refrigerated holds. Her mainmast was also removed in 1965, and her funnel was painted in the Federal Steam Navigation colours.

Like her sisters, Ruahine’s mainmast was removed in 1965 with her funnel pained in the Federal colours

Photo by © Simplon - Visit

As new container ships were introduced, which had faster turn-around times, Ruahine, like her two sisters became redundant. C.Y.Tung purchased her in 1969 to join her sisters. Renamed Oriental Rio, she was placed on the Far East and South America service until 1973 when she was sold to be broken up in Taiwan.

Oriental Rio, ex Ruahine, seen in San Francisco

© Simplon - Visit



SS Remuera (2)

Remuera, ex Cunard Parthia

This ship was originally built as the Cunard cargo-passenger liner Parthia of 1947. She together with her sister Media (later Cogedar Lines Flavia) was used on intermediate Liverpool-New York and Canada services. By the late fifties the sisters became uneconomic and were sold in 1961. Parthia was sold to the New Zealand Shipping Co, and was renamed Remuera. She re-entered service on June 1, 1962 following the rebuilding of her promenade being extended aft and an increase of passenger accommodations (99 more than when built). She was now listed as 13,619 GRT, somewhat smaller than her running mates.


Built:                                         Harland & Wolff, Belfast

Launched:                                  February 25, 1947

Tonnage:                                   13,619 GRT

Length:                                      534ft – 162m

Width:                                       70ft – 21.3m

Draft:                                        30ft – 9.1m

Engines:                                    4 Harland & Wolff Geared Steam Turbines

Propellers:                                 Two

Service speed:                            17 knots

Passengers:                               350 one class

Passenger Decks:                        4

Crew:                                        200

Livery:                                       Black hull, white superstructure, red boot-topping & yellow funnel

Service:                                     London-Curacao-Panama-Papeete-Wellington-Auckland

During her two and a half year service with the NZSC, she suffered occasional turbine problems, which made her unprofitable for long voyages. Late 1964, she was transferred to the P&O subsidiary Eastern & Australian Steamship Company, who gave her another refit. Renamed Aramac she operated services from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to the Orient.

E&A’s SS Aramac, ex Remuera, seen in Hong Kong

In 1969, Aramac was withdrawn from service and was replaced by the popular Cathay. On October 15, 1969, Aramac departed Sydney for her final voyage to Hong Kong, after which she departed for Taiwan, arriving there on November 20, and was broken up.



Page One          Rangitiki - Rangitata (2) – Rangitani (1).

Page Two         Rangitoto, Rangitane (2), Remuera (2).

Page Two-B       Ruahine (3) - The last new built liner for NZ Shipping Co.

Page Two-C       Ruahine (3) - Her final voyage Auckland to Liverpool – The John Happs story.

Page Three        Photo Album 1 Rangitiki - Rangitata (2) – Rangitani (1).

Page Four          Photo Album 2 Rangitoto, Rangitane (2), Ruahine (3) and Remuera (2). 

Page Five          Photo Album 3 Rangitoto -1947 - in Colour.

Page Six            Photo Album 4 Rangitane (2) - 1947 in Colour.



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I watched them come, I watched them go and I watched them die.”


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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are either by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images and photographs that have been provided by Shipping Companies or private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors, however, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer or owner concerned. Therefore, I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address can be found at the bottom of the page on, in order that due credit may be given.


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