SS Gairloch was a steel, twin-screw three-masted steamer of 373 tons. SS Gairloch was built in Glasgow by Messrs Blackwood and Gordon in 1884 especially for the Waitara trade.
After being lengthened by 17ft 6ins (5.2m) in 1886 she became 164ft overall with a beam of 23ft and drew 8.7ft. She was powered by two 85hp engines and had a maximum speed of 11 knots.
When on a voyage from Onehunga to Kawhia, Raglan and Wanganui, with general cargo and timber, the steamer was wrecked on 5 January 1903 on Oakura Reef at 11.40pm on a dark moonless night.
The days after the stranding saw the Gairloch battered by stormy seas, which left her deck cargo of timber strewn over local beaches.
Most of the Gairloch’s general cargo, which included a large amount of sugar and flour, cement, drain pipes and two carriages, was successfully salvaged. Horses and drays were backed out into the sea alongside the wreck and the cargo and usable equipment brought ashore.
The rusting remains of the SS Gairloch’s bow can be seen on the beach at Ōakura. This rusted iron skeleton has been a local landmark for more than 100 years.