Oars across the Sea – A Visit to O.A.R.S Nelson, New Zealand            

Oars across the Sea – a trip with O.A.R.S Nelson

At the end of last year I was planning a touring trip to New Zealand for February and March this year. As a member of St Andrews Coastal Rowing club, when I go away I am keen to be involved in Skiff rowing, and generally being on the water elsewhere. I wrote to NZ St Ayles Skiff Coastal Rowing in the hope of hooking up with fellow coastal rowers and share their experiences. Steve Cranch of NZ St Ayles Skiff Coastal Rowing quickly responded with contacts.

Our trip would include being with friends at Nelson and I wrote to Denis Moriarty of Ocean Adventure Rowing Skiffs Nelson – O.A.R.S Nelson. Nelson is ideally located at the top of the South Island, near the Abel Tasman Park. Denis made contact and welcomed me with enthusiasm for St Ayles Skiff rowing. He explained that O.A.R.S Nelson was a group of active enthusiasts who have been rowing a borrowed boat for the last few months and had recently built their own Skiff called ‘Toroa’ ( te reo Maori for Albatross). Denis had obtained the kit through a friend in NZ coastal rowing – Auckland, who had a couple of surplus kits available from their boat building programme. Auckland had built 8 Skiffs and have a very active rowing fleet. I asked Denis about the name and he explained ‘we called it Albatross (Toroa) because we see it doing a little bit of long distance wandering where we can take our time and slow the pace right right down.- which is not difficult when you’re rowing’.

Denis and Russell – his friend and co-builder of ‘Toroa’, have found the boat to be a great catalyst for friendship and community building, attracting interest where ever they go. They have been on a range of rowing challenges and raids.



Nelson has an enviable reputation as the sunniest region in New Zealand. We arrived on a glorious hot day, and were warmly greeted by Denis, his wife Sue, daughter Emma and friend Russell and his wife Jocelyn, at Denis’s home for refreshments. It was fabulous to get rowing with O.A.R.S Nelson, from the harbour, taking in the river and sharing experiences along our journey and heart-warming to encounter the community spirit of St Ayles Skiff rowing down under in New Zealand.

Thank you very much for the opportunity O.A.R.S Nelson, remember to come and see us and hop in our boats when you venture to Scotland!




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