The Otaio was built in 1958 by John Brown and Company (Clydebank) Limited in Clydebank.


Technical Data on Otaio indicates that she was a refrigerated cargo vessel of 13,314 gross tons with a length overall of 526 feet 1.5 inches and an insulated cargo capacity of 429,300 cubic feet. Her 2 diesel engines gave her a service speed of 17 knots.


Otaio was designed to be a cadet training ship, and she operated in this role from 1958 until 1975. She could carry up to 40 deck cadets and up to 30 engineer cadets, and their living accommodation, schoolrooms and mess were housed in the Upper Deck in the vicinity of No. 4 and No. 5 Hatches. Full-time instructional staff included deck and engineering lecturers, a seamanship instructor and a physical education instructor.


Whilst a cadet’s life on board one of the New Zealand Shipping Company’s cadet ships is well summarised in the Company’s prospectus printed in 1962, photographs and anecdotes are a great way to show that cadets not only worked hard but played hard.


Any material that you would like to display would be most gratefully received.

Technical data on Otaio taken from a copy of her capacity plan, dated April 1958, are available for download as a pdf here. This capacity plan was of a quality that was too poor to scan and make available for download purposes. If anyone has a copy of Otaio’s capacity plan in the format used for “The Carriage of Cargo” handbook, it would be most gratefully received. This would be scanned for download purposes, and the original returned to the owner.


The intention is to produce a data sheet on Otaio’s 2 cycle, single-acting [Doxford] diesel engines and on her auxiliary machinery in a similar format to that now available for Rakaia’s engine and auxiliary machinery.


Any technical information in the form of text, diagrams or pictures that you may have of Otaio’s engines and auxiliary machinery would be most gratefully received.



Peter Edwards has written a most interesting account of his first trip as an engineer cadet on Otaio, and a heavily edited version of it was published in the March 2003 edition of Ships Monthly. The full, original version is available for download as a pdf here.


Aylwyn Patterson was a deck apprentice on the Otaio when His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited both her and the Durham.  Aylwyn has kindly provided an article on the Royal visit, which appeared in the Maori Club magazine, a photograph of him being presented to Prince Philip and his recollections of that day.  They are available for download as a pdf here.


Kerrin Mills was a deck cadet on Otaio when she experienced the awesome effects of a hurricane. He has produced a fascinating account of what was a truly life threatening situation, and it is available for download as a pdf here.


Mike Keat has kindly provided some sporting memorabilia from his time on Otaio as a deck cadet, and it is available for download as a pdf here.


A reunion organised by Harry Simpson to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the maiden voyage of Otaio was featured in the ‘Telegraph’, which is the journal of Nautilus UK – the union for maritime professionals – and, with the kind permission of the editor, it is available for download as a pdf here.


Any anecdotes that you may have of Otaio would be most gratefully received.