Aratika ZMFL

Radio room aboard inter-island ferry Aratika ZMFL

Radio Officer David Hopgood aboard inter-island ferry Aratika – ZMFL. Date unknown, but the equipment appears to be identical to that in the 1981 photo below.

Sailing between Wellington and Picton, Aratika – ZMFL was built as a freight ferry for New Zealand Railways, but converted to a passenger ferry after two years.

One of the Radio Officer’s less exciting jobs aboard Aratika was to rotate the ship’s TV aerial to get the best picture for the passenger areas. That’s why you’ll notice a TV set in the photo above.

Other gear in the photo includes: Marconi Commandant transmitter behind David, aerial switching unit at top left above the desk, then to the right the Marconi emergency transmitter, with the Marconi Apollo receiver below it. Below the clock is the auto keying device. Speaking of keys, that’s David’s personal Vibroplex on the desk.

Radio Officer Ken Grace aboard Aratika in 1981

Radio Officer Ken Grace aboard Aratika in 1981. Photo: David MacIntyre from his book Cook’s Wild Strait

NZ Railways ferry Aratika

Aratika, after her passenger accommodation was expanded in 1976

Gross tonnage: 3879
(later increased to 9035)
Builder: Chantiers Dubegion, Nantes, France
Entered service: 1974
(remodelled in 1976)
Finished service: 1999
More information

Audio recording from 1993: Aratika ZMFL reports departure from Wellington (“QTO WN”) to Wellington Radio ZLW on 500 kHz
(links to audio file on Roger Wincer’s website)

Read more about New Zealand’s rail ferries at nzmaritime.co.nz and kiwirail.co.nz.