American DUKW boat in New Zealand

While in New Zealand seeing various other attractions, we saw the DUKW Duck boat tour and decided to go for it.  It was a good chance to be in a vintage vehicle, and see a variety of land and water around Rotorua.

These DUKW boats were used in WWII for amphibious duties carrying troops and supplies.  New Zealand helped out on the side of the Allies, came in possession of this particular vehicle.  Our tour guide was a comedian, and said that they first had to swap the steering wheel to the “right” side of the vehicle!  These vehicles are based on a duece (2 ton) truck chassis with a driven front axle, making them a 6×6.  This particular one had the motor upgraded to a diesel, and heavier duty axles and driveline components for continuous duty as a tour operation.  These vehicles were never intended for much duty, having been designed to be sort of throw-a-way use.  As such, on the tour around Rotorua, speed was not the goal, neither was comfort or luxury.  Our tour guide was a master though, in addition to driving the vehicle, he kept up a continuous dialog of New Zealand history, stories, and jokes, with occasional pokes at “Yanks” and “Aussies”.  Driving this beast was no picnic, as the steering wasn’t exactly tight, and maneuvering this beast on narrow, winding and hilly roads couldn’t have been easy.

Before going into the water, he had to shift to low range, engage the front drive axle, and then as it went into the water, engage the propeller and disengage all of the wheels.  Then it could slowly churn through the water at a snails pace.  It’s amazing that any of these survived the war, as they were pretty much a sitting duck in the water!  Their main “weapon” was a good sump pump in the hull!  Pulling out of the water was the reverse, but then once out he had to stop and clear off any vegetation to avoid transferring any between lakes.

As I like all variety of old trucks, cars, boats and similar, I took lots of pictures of the undercarriage.  It’s easy to find pictures of the entire vehicle online, but not so easy to find details of what’s going on underneath.

We also saw some interesting boats and a funky camper.

Enjoy the pics!

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