Waikokopu History.

Waikokopu was the first Whaling Stn in the area , the first whaler was an American named Ward whom setup in 1832 but soon sold out to Mr Perry. An original whalepot from these rough early times can be seen at Ruawharo Marae.

A port company was formed about 1910 as a means of improving facilities for the loading out of farm produce which was being handled by lighters to ships parked some distance off shore. Mr EB Bendall was appointed Harbour master.

During the early 20's the Govt of the day saw a need to develop the Hydro at lake Waikaremoana so the railways dept built a railway line to Waikokopu from Wairoa and all the heavy iron work for the Waikaremoana Powerproject was brought ashore here and railed to Wairoa and then carted on to the lake by bullock wagon .

The Wairoa cooperative freezing company operated a freezing works at Wairoa from 1919 but they ran into financial difficulties after the 1931 earthquake, the cooperative was taken over by an American Co named Swifts NZ Co Ltd whom operated for many years and as the Wairoa Bar was becoming even more of a problem they began to use the railway line to Waikokopu and the port toload out meat.

During the 1930ís a ship called the Tulune was filled with limestone rocks from Kokohu and sunk to form a breakwater. A wharf was built but it was constantly knocked about by southerly storms and today there remains very little to see.

Loading the ships was always difficult at Waikokopu and the death knell came when eventually the railway line from Napier was joined up with the Waikokopu line to Wairoa.

In 1942 the railway line was completed to Gisborne making Waikokopu no longer required as a port and it reverted to a small fishing establishment and as a base for the servicing of the light house on Portland Island until 1984.

Mr Paul Ramsay operated his little double ended craft The Daily Bread to and from the island for many yrs.

Another notable resident was Mr Bill Neville whom had leased Portland Island in earlier years and was well known for his epic rowing trips to and from the island for stores. If going to Wairoa he would carry his shoes over his shoulder and then put them on when he got to town.... refer Portland Island story

Waikokopu was a base for the railway extension to Gisborne and early photos show it to be a hive of activity

During the 30ís an American Oil Co drilled for oil further up the Waikokopu valley and then Shell, BP and Todd drilled Waikokopu No2 during the 60ís. It was never made known as to just how much oil potential was likely to be there, although gas and hot water were found. The second well was drilled to 12,000 feet and evidence of these happenings can still be seen today..

Rolling Stones is a famous surf spot between two hills behind the old Railway Goods shed.

Photos: Top photo - First oil wells at Waikokopu