A 110-year-old steam ferry is a step closer to returning to the water after a suitable engine was tracked down in Seattle.
A small band of volunteers has been working since 2008 to restore the Minerva, which was built in 1910 to ferry passengers between Auckland and Clevedon.
The first phase of the project, which included restoring the kauri hull and building a new wheelhouse to bring the ferry back to its original form, took place on Kerikeri's Cobham Rd. The 20m vessel is now being worked on at an industrial estate in Opua.
The original twin steam engines were pulled out and dumped many years ago when the Minerva was converted to diesel power so finding replacements has proved challenging.
Years of scouring the world for engines of the right specifications finally paid off on Friday when a 1940s Sisson compound steam engine arrived in Kerikeri after a long voyage by ship from Seattle, USA, then by truck from Auckland.
Kerikeri Steam Trust chairman Ian Faulkner said the 70-horsepower engine had powered a steam boat called Oceanid in Washington State's Puget Sound.
Oceanid was originally built as a patrol vessel in England during World War II and later converted to a leisure boat. It was made of wood to counter the threat of magnetic mines.
"The engine's in very good condition. We don't anticipate having to do a lot to it,'' he said.
That isn't the end of the search, however, because the Minerva needs two steam engines.
Faulkner said he was "relatively confident" of finding a mate for the engine because they were made by the thousands at the Sisson plant in Gloucester, England.
"So it's a major step forward," he said.
The engine weighs 1.5 tonnes so it won't be installed in the boat until it's in the water.
Progress on the restoration has slowed down recently while the group awaits funding. The Kerikeri Steam Trust is part of a consortium applying for funding for a "total steam attraction" connecting the Minerva, the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway and the Twin Coast Cycle Trail. An initial combined bid for Provincial Growth Fund money was knocked back this year.
As well as seeking a second steam engine the Kerikeri Steam Trust still needs a boiler to power the twin steam engines. Once funding is obtained it will be made by one of the few New Zealand firms still building boilers.