The bow of the SS Gairloch is slowly crumbling into the sand near Oakura on Taranaki's coast. This rusted iron skeleton has been a local landmark for more than 100 years.On the night of January 5th 1903 - dark and moonless by all reports - the Gairloch had just narrowly missed colliding with her sister ship, the Ngapuhi, when she ran aground on Timaru Reef. The captain and crew rowed to the New Plymouth breakwater and were housed for the night at the Breakwater Hotel.The next day, a harbour board dredge helped to salvage personal effects from the Gairloch - particularly silverware, linen, upholstery and spirits. The harbourmaster assessed the wreck, which was extensively holed, as unsalvageable.Storms, time and tides, and the occasional souvenir hunter, are gradually claiming what's left of the Gairloch. A short wade out to sea you'll find the bottom plates and remnants of the ship's engines - now home to various kinds of sea life.