If Rocket Lab gets its Electron vehicle into space during a test launch it will rank among New Zealand's greatest technical and engineering feats.

Matthew Wright in his book Big Ideas - Wonders of New Zealand Engineering lists others - and here are 10 of them.

A replica of the plane built by New Zealand pioneer aviator Richard Pearse.
A replica of the plane built by New Zealand pioneer aviator Richard Pearse.
Spans of the Auckland Harbour Bridge during construction in the 1950s.
Spans of the Auckland Harbour Bridge during construction in the 1950s.

Built between 1955 and 1959 it replaced car ferries that were transporting 5000 vehicles a day. The total length is 1097m but its four lanes soon proved too few and by 1969 the "Nippon clip-ons" were attached.

Wairakei Geothermal Power Scheme

Serious power shortages in 1947 prompted government investigation into alternatives to hydro-electricity. The Wairakei station opened in 1958 and New Zealand remains one of the world leaders in using steam fields for large scale generation.

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Te Mihi, Contact Energy's newest geothermal power station in Wairakei.
Te Mihi, Contact Energy's newest geothermal power station in Wairakei.

The Cook Strait Cable

Or more accurately the South-North high voltage direct current link. This way of moving power from the main sources of generation in the South Island to the more populous North broke world records for the length of the line's capacity after its commissioning in 1965.

Power transmission lines in the South Island bring electricity to the North. Photo / Ross Setford
Power transmission lines in the South Island bring electricity to the North. Photo / Ross Setford

The Trekka

Made Wright's companion book, NZ on the Move. During the early 1960s filled the car design and production gap. It used a Skoda motor. Marketed as a variety of Land Rover and utility style bodies, the Trekka was a Kiwi answer to farm vehicles which were subject to import restrictions.

The boxy low-tech Trekka was a surprise Kiwi automotive success story.
The boxy low-tech Trekka was a surprise Kiwi automotive success story.

Manapouri Power Station

Recognised as one of New Zealand's great engineering projects it was not only one of the largest single hydro stations in the Southern Hemisphere, and with the giant machine hall hacked out of solid rock it was largely unobtrusively built in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

Manapouri Power Station was built in to solid rock. Photo / Kenny Rodger
Manapouri Power Station was built in to solid rock. Photo / Kenny Rodger

The Britten V-1000

The V-twin racing motorcycle was one of the greatest of New Zealand's light engineering achievements, unquestionably the most stylish machine of its day and the fastest. It blended function, art and technology.

The Britten motorcycle pictured at a Hawke's Bay show. Photo / Glenn Taylor
The Britten motorcycle pictured at a Hawke's Bay show. Photo / Glenn Taylor

The Sky Tower

Controversy surrounded the Sky Tower in the design stages but the 328m tall building is now a centrepiece of the Auckland skyline. It is designed to withstand 200km/h gales and a magnitude 8 earthquake. It was opened in 1997.

The Sky Tower in Auckland is 20 years old this year. Photo / Michael Craig
The Sky Tower in Auckland is 20 years old this year. Photo / Michael Craig