The area of the south coast, that is now the Marine reserve, has been a weekend getaway spot for Wellingtonians since the late 1800’s. It has a history of Kiwis at the beach, carnivals, surf lifesaving, and an even earlier european history of fishing and shipwrecks.
Island Bay with its diving platform and surf lifesaving club was a mecca in the summer for Wellington families to escape the hustle and bustle of a growing city. It also became the mooring area for the fleet of fishing vessels that would fish round the south coast.
Further round from Island bay are the Sirens reef and Owhiro bay. In the early these were very isolated areas and considered a more rugged camping weekend. Later on Owhiro Bay did get a small collection of houses when the area started supplying beach gravel to Wellingtons Building trade.
The area has also seen a few wrecks due to sailors having a break down in the southerly and being dashed against the rocks, or thinking they could get some shelter. The Cyrus, Wellington, Progress and Yung Penn are a few who have come to grief in the area. Click here for an article on South Coast shipwrecks.
You can find more about the history of this area in Wellington by the sea- 100 years of work and play; David Johnson or at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea.
click to enlarge image
Photos from the Collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library