HMNZS Waikato To Become Northland Tourism VentureDefence
The decommissioned frigate HMNZS Waikato will be used as an artificial reef for recreational divers to boost tourism prospects in the Northland region, Defence Minister Max Bradford confirmed today.
Mr Bradford said the ship was initially destined for overseas tender or possible scrap.
"However, discussions with the Defence Force and approaches from tourism operators in New Zealand revealed the attractive option of retaining the vessel in the country for tourism/recreational purposes.
"After an open tender, the successful bidder Tutukaka Coast Promotions (TCP) will take charge of the vessel later this week.
"TCP have a good track record following the sinking of HMNZS Tui in February this year," Mr Bradford said.
Waikato will be cleaned and prepared over a three week period before being towed north to Marsden Point, Whangarei.
"TCP will assume full liability for the vessel, and after obtaining the necessary resource consents intend sinking the Waikato at its final resting place off Middle Gable Headland north of Tutukaka," Mr Bradford said.
A formal ceremony to lay the ship to rest will be held early next year.
Tutukaka Coast Promotions estimates the venture could attract $1.5 million dollars in tourism revenue annually.