The Hokianga's car ferry is out of action after it struck the wharf at Kohukohu, causing a gash in the hull that flooded an engine bay and destroyed the engine.

A Far North District Council spokesman said the ferry hit the wharf at the Narrows during Saturday's storm, but an investigation was under way to determine if it was the storm that caused the collision. A passenger ferry is being used as a temporary replacement but vehicles have to drive around the harbour until the car ferry Kohu Ra Tuarua is repaired and back in action.

The spokesman said Maritime NZ (MNZ) and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) had been informed of the collision. He said an engine in the ferry had to be replaced and it was too early to determine the full cost to replace the engine and repair the hull.

The ferry is run by council company Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield) and had received a subsidy from the NZ Transport Agency as the crossing is deemed part of the state highway network.

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The spokesman said it was unclear at this stage if there were any passengers on the ferry at the time of the collision. The Kohu Ra Tuarua could be back in action this week.

A spokesman from TAIC said it would not be investigating the collision. MNZ is talking to the operator to determine what happened.