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Breaksea Girl; her past, present and all her glorious details

We have had Enderby Island - and the high ground of the main island behind it in view since daybreak. Under sail and reaching across a stiff southwest wind, the ‘buck-eye’ ketch Breaksea Girl leans and punches her way through a moderate sea near the end of a thirty-five hour trip direct from Bluff. It is a moment to treasure, an insight into seafaring of old in the subantarctic. Sails tight and humming, waves rearing and cresting, sea spray cold in your face. These are the latitudes of the West Wind Drift - the Furious Fifties and Roaring Forties, the albatross latitudes.

The above extract was taken from - The Lark Trilogy. It provides a wee snapshot of the Breaksea Girl and its past adventures.

Lance Shaw was skipper of the research vessel ‘Renown’ for the Department of Conservation, his wife Ruth, an experienced blue water mariner and conservation activist. In need of a new challenge, they set about forming a partnership that would thrive in an arena many thought was not possible.

In 1993 they leased a vessel called the ‘Evohe’ to establish an environmental charter business with the hope of funding environmental science through tourism. They quickly became successful in their new venture and it became evident they needed their own vessel.

The vessel of choice was based in Australia. Constructed of steel, this purpose built charter ship then named ‘Reef Enterprise’ originated from Queensland. Ken Jordan and sons launched her in 1991 to run dive charters out of Airlie Beach. This family business was soon up for sale and when Ruth and Lance heard of the vessel they jumped at the opportunity to purchase.

Lance got a team together to sail the vessel across from Australia, whilst Ruth managed finances and NZ ship registration requirements from the home base in Manapouri. Friends gathered and amongst celebrations of new beginnings, the vessel found a new name; ’Breaksea Girl’: a tribute to the internationally recognised efforts clearing predators from Breaksea Island in the heart of Fiordland.

In 1995 the ‘Breaksea Girl’ was first registered in New Zealand.

The ‘Breaksea Girl’ became the base for scientific research and conservation projects and was the conduit to develop a sustainable and successful ecotourism business in New Zealand. In the years of operating Fiordland Ecology Holidays, there were over twenty trips to the sub antarctic islands, hundreds of trips into Fiordland and Stewart Island operating with clear strategies to maintain and improve the status of Fiordland flora and fauna, whilst fostering a love towards Fiordland’s special natural environment.

In 2010 the business was sold to the Hutchins family, one of the founding tourism operators in the Fiordland region.

This family run business had many similar conservation values and allowed Ruth and Lance to step back from business and concentrate on other local conservation issues.

We now own the ‘Breaksea Girl’ and aspire to operate Wild Fiordland with much the same values of “preservation and protection” for Fiordland Wilderness with the ‘Breaksea Girl’ at its core.


Launched: 1991

Material: Steel

Rig: Ketch

Overall Length: 65 foot

Beam: 18.5 foot

Draft: 2.4m

Engine: 8 cylinder Gardiner Diesel

Auxiliary Isuzu 22 KvA

Electrical: 240vAC, 12V, 24V DC

Performance: 10 knots max under power

12 knots max under sail

Berths: 12 + crew

Toilets: 2 flushing

Showers: 2 excellent showers

Heating: Diesel fireplace to sit around to enjoy a wild tale or two

Saloon: Open wheelhouse and area to sit around to chew the fat

Galley: Where all the goods come from

Glasshouse: Perfect for enjoying wild fiordland at it’s best

Library: Full of great history books and reading material and games

Chart desk: To pour over charts and topo maps craft

Tender craft 4.25m Stabicraft small boat to get to shore for walks and adventures

Sea Kayaks: 4x AR Expedition Double sea kayaks (Barracuda Kayaks) for a great paddle

1x single (Barracuda Kayaks)

Activity equipment: In case you don’t have room to pack yours, we have a few toys for you to use. Inflatable paddle boards, snorkels, masks, weight belts, fins beanbags, yoga mats


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