A Wahine lifeboat restored in Auckland has returned to the waters where it carried 90 people to safety when the inter-island ferry sank in a 1968 storm, with the loss of 51 lives.

The lifeboat, also named Wahine, has been converted into a pleasure craft.

The owner, Nick Nicholson, restored the lifeboat, which he believed was one of at least three to survive the storm.

He spotted it at Seaview near the Petone foreshore and bought it for $22,500.

Souvenirs, such as a Wahine ashtray and the plaque from the premises of the Union Steamship Company, which owned the doomed inter-island ferry, also feature on the lifeboat.

Mr Nicholson said the boat would probably be berthed in Wellington while he explored the possibility of buying a bigger boat for tuna fishing.