There was only ever one home on Mou Waho island. It belonged to a man with a fascinating story… the entrepreneurial colonist, Alfred Herman Pinn.
A native of Devon, England. Mr. Pinn served his apprenticeship at Plymouth Dockyards in shipbuilding. As a young man the lure of gold would lead him to the antipodean colonies; first to Victoria and afterwards to New Zealand, Wanaka and Mou Waho Island.
Mr Pinn travelled to New Zealand on the French barque St Jane in 1862. During the voyage the master and most of the crew were stricken with scurvy, and fever. Being a man of many talents, Mr. Pinn took charge of the navigation of the boat and brought it safely to port.
He held one of the first, if not the first, miner’s rights that was issued in Victoria. This he carried about for years in a pocketbook, but unfortunately lost it in the Makarora River at the head of Lake Wanaka when he was rescuing a merchant, Henry Marshall, who was fording the river with a bag of gold strapped on his back and got beyond his depth.
Alfred decided to focus his entrepreneurial efforts during the gold rush on trade and the supply of timber to the miners. He reasoned that there would be a significant demand for building materials for building homes, hotels and mining equipment, in a highcountry area that was largely devoid of trees. Alfred sensed the building boom that was to come and it was this foresight that led him to Mou Waho, as there were large stands of Matai and other native hardwood trees an the island at that time.
Alfred’s home on Mou Waho was established In 1863, near today’s main landing. “we had a comfortable cottage on the island with a fine garden and quantities of currents, goosberries and raspberries. We also stocked the island with 200 fine marino wool sheep” wrote Alfred’s business partner, George Hassings.
Remnants of the stone wharf and cottage can still be seen and there is still evidence of the fruit and berry trees among the native trees on the island.
Several schooners were built by Alfred at Mou Waho Island. The Nun, the Eureka, and the Isabella were for years used for lake trade and early tours on Lake Wanaka.
The vessel “Nun” was sunk in the summer of 1877/78 while loaded with a steam engine for a mill. In quite the transformation, after refloating and repair, she was renamed SAUCY KATE and gave many more years of service on Lake Wanaka.
Join Eco Wanaka on a guided Mou Waho tour to visit the site where Alfred built and launched his vessels and explore the magic of Mou waho Island.