As seen on TV 1 - Hunting for the Wild - The Mighty Mokau River.


Mokau River Dairy Factory opened in 1923, and Mr Eric Lewes secured the cream contract. He delivered the fresh cream by transporting it down Mokau River to the Dairy Factory using a Launch named Sefton.

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1927 Mr Sgoland who owned two Launches “The Swan and The Cygnet” (baby Swan) sold the Cygnet to Mr Lewes. From there on Mr Lewes used the Cygnet for picking up cans of cream.


The Cygnet was the last cream boat to work the river. She finished working the Mokau River when the Dairy Factory closed in 1954.


The Cygnet was sold to Kawhia. After 40 years at Kawhia the vessel was brought back to Mokau with the help of Mokau Museum, Mr and Mrs Mather refit the vessel and is now used in the river again.

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The Cygnet with its title of “The Cream Boat” is the vessel that was seen on the TV.

The Hunting hut known as Brad’s Hut was an old Dairy shed. Owen by Mr Sheen and share milked by Mr & Mrs O Sullivan

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This was one of many small soldier settlement farms, which lined the Mokau River.
The cows where milked, by hand, in the early days, no milking machine then. The cream was separated from the whey. The cream was then put into cream cans and sledged down to their jetties that lined the river edge, ready to be picked up by boat.

Other ways to transport the cream cans to their jetties was by flying fox.



There where other uses for the Flying fox, it was the easily way to cross the Mokau River.
From the farm jetty the cream was loaded onto the cream boat, then shipped down river, to the dairy factory and made into butter.


Cream was not the only food that was shiped down river, Pigs where too. To load a pig first you had to tie a rope around the pig’s chest. Wash the mud off it by dunking it in the river, and then onto the launch.  Mr Mowat the manager of Mangatoi Station recalled loading pig this way, and he said “as last long I live, I will never forget the noise that the pigs made. They were squealing so loud that you could not hear your own thoughts and would leave you deaf for some hours.



Other goods where shipped out using the river as a road, were Timber, Coal, lime, Road Metal and Wool. Mokau Harbour Board records show in September the 23rd 1901 the steam ship Manakau brought in 1 camp oven, 2 keg gun powder, and 1 carton of “Tonic beer”. On the 24th of October the vessel Surprise a Scow 65 tons 96 feet long by 23 wide and a daft (depth below water) of 4.8’ was loaded with 1 ½ ton of coal.

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The great flood of 1915 stopped the larger ships from using Mokau River as a highway. White bait season is when the Mokau is at its busiest time now. The season starts on the August the 15th to 30 of November. Locals many years back used to catch white bait to feed to their hens. White bait was free wheat was not.


You can take a cruise with us on board M.V. Glen Royal, the biggest vessel to sail on the Mokau River for many years. Come and discover Mokau historic and Scenic River for your self. See Brads hut, the Metal Quarries, white bait jetties that line the river and Native bush. Enjoy our fresh Girdled Scones with jam and whipped cream.