Did anything come of the proposed steam operations in Taurnaga/The Mount?
Greymouth's 1904 built, 32 lever, signal box was moved today from its original site a few hundred meters downstream to a new site. The reason for the move was it was in the way of the next stage of flood prevention for Greymouth. The move took place with the box being lifted off its foundations around 9:45 and then by 11:30 the box was on its new foundations. It is now located just across from the Greymouth station, close to where the former Riverside station was located.
On the wrong track
On the wrong track
27th May 2010
The loving restoration of an old tram in Henderson is almost done but the
lack of Auckland lines means it may soon have to roll elsewhere, writes
David Harre is very proud of this baby. Behind his house is a 1924 tram he
is lovingly restoring to its original splendour. "It was in shocking shape.
There were big holes. It needed a whole restructure. It was in a shambles,"
he says, his eyes twinkling with relish as he remembers the initial
Because of the state it was in, the tram had to be taken apart and
painstakingly reassembled. "I take apart and frantically try to remember
where everything goes."
Mr Harre's renovation of the tram is as much a passion as it is a political
statement. "There is no question that trams are the transportation of the
future. It has no emissions. Its steel wheels run on steel tracks. It
requires half the amount of energy you would require from rubber."
This is the second tram he has restored. The first he donated to Wanganui,
where it is now a popular tourist attraction.
"There was a mock birthday for the Number 12 tram. The mayor of Wanganui
came. Bob [Harvey, Waitakere Mayor] came and some councillors came.
At that point, they told me, if I can do it for Wanganui, why can't I do it
So Mr Harre rolled up his sleeves and set to work on one of the two trams
he'd bought and brought from Aspen, Colorado, at a bargain price of US$50.
Getting the trams here cost him a bit more. "It cost NZ$57,000 but I got a
Lotto grant. Within New Zealand people transported it for free. I just got
huge help from businesses," he says.
Three years later, the tram is almost finished. "I'm very proud of this
roof," Mr Harre remarks as he climbs up a metal ladder.
It is one of the hardest sections to reassemble because of its curves. "It
turned out really well."
The floor has also been completed. What's left to be done? Everything in
"As it gets towards completion, the more volunteers you get. I'm going to
pick up panels from a sheet-metal firm. I asked them how much and they said
The sad thing, however, is that Waitakere City can't take the tram out for a
ride. Janet Clews, the councillor who chairs the long-term council community
plan, says it doesn't have the money to lay down a track.
"Everybody thought it was a good idea but there is no way we can do that at
the end of our existence," she says, explaining the feasibility study shows
it would cost the city about $6 million to put tram tracks in Henderson.
Waitakere Community Board chairman Kubi Witten-Hannah has suggested a more
manageable tramway between Corban Estate and Waitakere Central but it seems
the council has decided to set the whole project aside.
Whatever happens, the tram is sure to go to a good home.
"Napier is fair bursting to have them," says Mr Harre.
Streetcars of desire
.Auckland City had horse trams from 1884.
.On November 17, 1902, the electric tram service was launched.
.Service commenced a week later and continued until December 29, 1956.
By Mark Price on Sat, 29 May 2010
A walk through the 145-year-old Chain Hills rail tunnel, near Mosgiel, was once the highlight of many Noakes family birthday parties.
Then, says Clare Noakes, who owns the 60ha of bush and farmland at the eastern end of the tunnel, the Dunedin City Council erected gates and locked them shut.
That was about 12 years ago.
Now, Mrs Noakes is one of those who will need to be consulted by Opus International Ltd, which won the $50,000 council contract to complete a feasibility study into whether a cycleway can be created between Dunedin and Mosgiel using the Chain Hills tunnel and another at Caversham.
Mrs Noakes told the Otago Daily Times although the council "never asked" if it could lock up her tunnel, she had no great issue with the closure.
It did end her wandering-stock problems.
As a cyclist, she is delighted at the prospect of the tunnel being reopened so families and children could easily cycle between Dunedin and Mosgiel.
"I've biked into town from out here and it's just a nightmare coping with the traffic and trying to pass parked cars with people passing you and just about squashing you.
"Just to be able to go on the flat is the main thing."
Over the next few weeks, two Opus consultants who have completed a two-day "confined spaces" course in Timaru, will explore the tunnels with gas detectors and breathing apparatus.
The main hazards they face are the council's Silverstream and Wingatui foul sewers which run the length of the 158m tunnel and vent gas.
Mrs Noakes said when her mother, Jean Markham, first bought the land, the tunnel was a popular walkway between Wingatui and Fairfield.
At the western, Wingatui end is a 6ha property owned by Kim Hiko.
He has no objection to the tunnel being used by cyclists but is not keen on the cycleway continuing along the old railway line through the yard that divides his house from his sheds.
The old line is also the access way for two of his neighbours and runs "right past the back door" of another house.
"I'd be all for it, and if they can work something out they can do it. But it's a bit tricky."
Opus is expected to report to the council by the end of June on all issues surrounding the possible creation of the "two tunnels" cycleway.
Three years after plans were sidelined for a rail heritage park using part
of the old Cobden rail bridge, work has finally restarted. The heritage
park, on the south bank of the Grey River, was a condition of the On Track consent for the new rail bridge, which was opened in June 2006. However, work on the park was held up by delays with raising the height of the Greymouth floodwall.
It will incorporate a salvaged span from the 110-year-old wooden truss
bridge. A similar feature was created with a span from the former Arahura road-rail bridge. The Cobden span was shifted on to new foundations on the riverbank yesterday. On Track area manager Phil McVicar said initial work had resumed on the heritage park, which would be built around the old bridge section as soon as the floodwall extensions had been completed. In November 2006 On Track started pouring foundations for the heritage site, but work came to a complete standstill a few months later after the Greymouth Floodwall Committee debated the course of action for raising the floodwall.
No timeframe was set in the consent for the completion.
(Check out the website for a pic)
Rail heritage park under way
By Lisa Rangi
From KiwiRail "EXPRESS" today
While many Wellington rail commuters can't wait
for the introduction of the new Matangi units due to
be rolled out from later this year, there are some
who want to preserve the old English Electrics that
have helped keep services running in the capital.
Known by a variety of names, including "red
rattlers" they date back to the 1950s and in some
cases, earlier still. Newtown man John Osborn has
become convenor of the Wellington Rail Heritage
Action Group which aims to preserve some of
the old trains once they are taken out of service.
"We want to save enough to run real trains on a
suitable suburban environment in Wellington, not
necessarily the current lines," he says. His group
also wants to preserve one or two "iconic" stations
Weka Pass Railway wins KiwiRail infrastructure award at FRONZ
Weka Pass Railway in Waipara, North Canterbury is the 2010 KiwiRail Infrastructure Improvement Award winner for its work on installing a turntable at the southern end of its rail network.
The award is presented to a member of the Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand at organisation’s annual conference.
KiwiRail’s General Manager of Public Affairs, Kevin Ramshaw, presented the award at Sunday night’s awards ceremony in Feilding to Neville Tobin of Weka Pass.
"The Weka Pass entry was an excellent example of hard work and enterprise in the development of railway infrastructure," Mr Ramshaw said.
The documentation with the entry notes that the turntable was acquired from Middleton railway yard when several turntables were dumped in the 1960s. It’s likely to have come from a branch line like Oxford or Little River.
"It lay in the overgrown grass alongside our railway line just short of Glenmark Station for many years," said WPR secretary Scott Eastwick. "Early in 2007, a generous donation by two of our members enabled work to commence."
KiwiRail Network’s Murray Webster drew up plans for the approach lines and the turntable itself and construction began in April 2008. The official opening took place on 12 July last year.
"With the Glenmark turntable now in operation, it complements the Weka Pass Railway’s other turntable at the Wakari terminus which had seen little use since its installation in 2002," said Scott Eastwick.
"Now during our public running days, our steam locomotive is able to be turned at Wakari and run head first back to Glenmark Station."
The turntable is 62ft long, enabling locomotives up to J/Ja/Jb size to be turned.
"We found the installation of the turntable to be challenging and a huge commitment from our volunteer members. We are now proud to own a vital part of heritage railway infrastructure not seen by so many people these days as country branch line and rural locomotive depots have disappeared."
Did anything come of the proposed steam operations in Taurnaga/The Mount?
Suspended due to economic realities of the past two years. Was to depend on the cruise market but fewer ships called over the last year. Prospects look good for 2011 onwards as more ships are due to visit. There are still regular ecursions to the region though.
Rail is central to what is being touted as the biggest tourism attraction to open on the West Coast since Shantytown opened almost 40
years ago. Work is on schedule for December to open a rail track that will take a tram deep into an underground mine at Denniston, north of
Westport. It’s known as the Banbury Tourist Mine and Tramway, being developed by the Denniston Heritage Charitable Trust. So far, more than 300 metres of rail has been laid and Westport man Jack Powick has almost finished overhauling an electric locomotive and will then turn his attention to carriages. The tramway takes the route of the old rope road which crosses the spectacular Banbury Arches. The Department of Conservation and Solid Energy are both supporting the project along with Buller District Council, Development West Coast and Friends of the Hill. No decision has yet been made on who will operate the rail experience.
This will be for the most hardiest of tourists. I've been up to Dennieston...It's a horrible dreary place most days of the year. The ruins are amazing though. Mother nature has taken it's toll, hard to believe the incline closed only in 1966.
Westland tourisim are definitly under no allusions that 'mass' tourisim will result from this. They are aiming for the harder adventure types and of those, the toughest.
Ever daydream about owning your own village?
Look no further than Otira, a tiny West Coast town in the Southern Alps.
Otira's current owners, Bill and Christine Hennah, bought the township in 1998 after passing through and "feeling sorry for it".
Christine Hennah said the couple paid $80,000 for the hotel, school, railway station, town hall and 18 houses.
Twelve years later, the couple, now in their 60s, no longer have the energy to run the hotel while maintaining the building and the township.
They are asking $350,000 for the hotel, or $1 million to take the village as well.
Christine Hennah said the hotel and town would be ideal for a couple with lots of energy and ideas.
"We need someone to build it up again. There is a lot of potential and opportunity," she said.
The main difficulty the couple had faced was with the Westland District Council, which would not give resource consent for subdivision and development because of the risk of flooding or earthquakes, she said.
Bill Hennah said the Department of Conservation was not keen on the town's growth because Otira was in the middle of a national park.
Christine Hennah said the couple had enjoyed their Otira stint, although they wished they had not given residents six weeks rent in return for them painting their own homes.
"That was a bit naive of us. It didn't really work," she said.
The Otira Hotel, originally a Cobb & Co coach stop, has been on the same site since the 1860s.
The town has long been a base for railway and road workers, but many of the houses, which date back to the 1920s, have been moved to new locations on the West Coast.
Otira has about 40 people
Kumeu cafe full steam ahead after retro refit
By Colin Taylor
4:00 AM Saturday Jun 26, 2010
Carriages Cafe & Wine Bar, based on a railway and rail station theme, is a dining establishment with a difference located in Kumeu on State Highway 16 off the end of the North Western Motorway 26 km west of the Auckland CBD.
"Due to family commitments, the current owners, John and Sue Humphrey, are reluctantly and prematurely placing the cafe on the market after they have undertaken a major refurbishment of Carriages," says Wayne Neal, of Affiliated Business Consultants. Neal is marketing the business for sale within a leased property as a going concern for an asking price of $439,000.
"This is a great opportunity for someone who has a passion for quality food, great coffee, good wine, and a desire to join in the local community," Neal says.
"Carriages Cafe & Wine Bar was established some 15 years ago and has become an iconic cafe known all over Auckland. It is a seven-day week, daytime cafe closing at 4pm. Due to its high visibility on State Highway 16, drivers are naturally drawn to the cafe because of its eye-catching old world train carriages mounted on a large deck overlooking a picturesque little lake."
In keeping with the railway theme, the main building was designed on the basis of a typical train station of a bygone era and includes tasteful memorabilia within the cafe.
"Last year Carriages was sold and closed down for a period of five months, during which time the premises were completely gutted and $200,000 was spent on restoration and refurbishment," Neal says.
"The Humphreys re-established the business to its former glory, redesigning the cafe to establish a number of zones to meet the needs of the cafe's customer base."
Upon entering the "station", customers are tempted by cabinet food on the left and the wine bar on the right with a classic La Marzocco Espresso machine as its focal point.
Walking through the "station" to the "platform" the "passengers" proceed two old-world train carriages which have been maintained in their original form with a couple of additions to ensure they meet the needs of modern diners.
"One is a child-friendly area where children can play while their parents enjoy some adult company, not having to worry about where the kids have gone," Neal says. "The other is set up for quieter conversation. Beyond the carriages is a deck overlooking the lake inhabited by ducks and pukeko."
The main deck is enclosed with large French doors and heated with gas ensuring a cosy environment during the cold winter months.
"Since re-opening in December 2009, the turnover has averaged over $19,000 per week," Neal says.
"The business still has a way to go until it reaches the turnover of its past glory days but still has lots of opportunity for further development. Already the cafe has had success with several marketing strategies such as a takeaway menu with delivery to local businesses, school loyalty cards, donating a percentage of their purchases to the school and developing relationships with various bus tour groups that frequent the region."
Neal says Carriages Cafe has the support of the local community and on the weekend is a destination for many outdoor enthusiasts and for people out for a Sunday drive in the country.
Kumeu holds many public events at its showgrounds like the Classic Car & Hot Rod Show, now in its 16th year, The Kumeu Beer, Wine & Food Festival which has been held for eight years and Just Gardening at Kumeu now in its sixth year.
The Kumeu region is also home to many of New Zealand's most recognised wine labels which attract a steady flow of weekend "tasters" to the area and is the gateway to the West Coast with attractions like the gannet colony, Muriwai Links Golf Course and Woodhill Forest.
Own a mountain village in New Zealand!
by Kraig Becker (RSS feed) on Jun 30th 2010 at 8:00AM
Budding real estate moguls listen up, as I've got quite the deal for you. The New Zealand mountain village of Otira is up for sale, and is currently seeking new ownership. The asking price of NZ$1 million (roughly $690,000) gets you all kinds of amenities, including a hotel, town hall, fire station, and 18 houses, although the location may be ideal for everyone.
Otira is located at an altitude of 3445 feet in a remote corner of New Zealand's Southern Alps. The mountains offer a beautifully scenic backdrop and a near by national park provides plenty of outdoor adventure. But in the winter months, heavy snow can hit the region, and the little town is regularly cut-off from the outside world, sometimes for days at a time, thanks to an untimely blizzard.
The village boasts a population of just 44 residents, most of whom rent the houses that are found there. Many of those work for the TranzAlpine railway which rolls through town twice a day, bringing tourists to the area. The local hotel, which is not much more than a bed and breakfast, is the only place to stay for miles around, and offers up a hot meal and a cold pint of beer to wash it down with. The fire station has been re-purposed as a workshop for the local mechanic, and the school hall has been abandoned for more than a decade.
The current owners, Bill and Christine Hennah, bought the town back in 1998, and have been running, and renovating, it ever since. They are now approaching retirement age, and although they have no plans to leave Otira, the do feel it is time to pass it along to a new owner. They have listed the town on the New Zealand auction site Trade Me, where you can place your bids for this prime piece of real estate.
Who knows, perhaps you'll be retiring there one day too.
Opunake railway station on the move
1st July 2010
THE Pioneer Village in Stratford now has an historic station for its small train the "Pioneer Express" after the 85-year-old Opunake Railway Station was transported to Pioneer Village last week.
Some months ago this historical building was offered to Pioneer Village by the Opunake Lions Club, free of charge, to show and tell the story of the Opunake rail line.
Now the historic building has found a new life and will once again have a train chugging off from its platform.
"The board of the Pioneer Village are extremely grateful as it is a great addition to the many historical buildings on display, some of which date back to the 1850s," said Barrie Smith, president of the Pioneer Village society
The Lions Club are also very pleased. Had the Pioneer Village had not taken the railway station; chances are it would have become a shed.
There is a long history about the Opunake Line, which was proposed well before 1925 and was to be surveyed from Stratford, which is the main junction.
However when the survey got underway they soon found the terrain through Cardiff and Mahoe extremely difficult and decided on a much flatter route, from Te Roti, where the line is still used as far as Kapuni today.
The original intention of those early pioneer surveyors was to circle the whole mountain, from Opunake to New Plymouth.
Then in 1975 the line from Kapuni to Opunake was closed down.
"I appeal to the residents of Taranaki to contact Pioneer Village if they have any photos, items or movies (8mm or 16mm), as we wish to display this memorabilia in the station, for the enjoyment of our many visitors," said Barrie.
He said the village is grateful to the Taranaki Electricity Trust for a grant towards the project.
Railway heritage enthusiasts have launched a campaign to save the historic Ashburton railway station from demolition. The private owner of
the station, which dates back to 1917, having unsuccessfully tried a number of ventures in the station, wants to demolish it.
The Ashburton District Council has rejected a proposal to save the listed
building but support for its retention is growing in the community – partly because it is one of very few heritage buildings in the town. The Chairman
of the Ashburton Station Trust, Don McLeod says he doesn’t know how much it would cost to buy the building but a fund raising campaign has been launched to try.
Ashburton railway station (built 1917) is under serious threat of demolition, and the Ashburton Heritage Trust is holding a meeting of all those interested in saving it
THIS FRIDAY EVENING, 23 JULY,
ST JAMES PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Corner THOMPSON & GRAHAM STREETS, TINWALD
Everyone welcome - tell other people you know who are interested.
The Trust has a Facebook page under construction and its email address is saveourstation(at)xtra.co.nz.
'Piece of history' to make way for new road
By KAY BLUNDELL - The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 21/07/2010
The owners of an Otaki lodge are devastated that a slice of the town's history will be destroyed along with their livelihood to make way for an expressway.
Maureen and Howard Lange bought Bridge Lodge, on the south bank of the Otaki River, 12 years ago and upgraded it to become a popular function centre.
The property is needed by the end of next year for the Government's four-lane expressway between Peka Peka and Otaki, which is expected to cost up to $355 million.
The New Zealand Transport Agency has now confirmed that more than 100 properties will be affected, including Bridge Lodge. The lodge, which has about 1486 square metres of buildings on the five-hectare property, will be forced to close, and the couple will be compensated at current market values.
Mrs Lange, in her 50s, said she was devastated. "It is our home, my business. We started with nothing, spent thousands building it up to host weddings, birthdays, campervan conventions and quilters and felters events."
She had 57 bookings for the coming year, including nine weddings.
The agency is set to begin the first stage of work on the 13-kilometre expressway, which will eventually include a bypass east of Otaki's State Highway 1 shopping centre.
It has just awarded two contracts to Opus International for investigation and assessment of geotechnical, environmental, economic and social effects leading to design options for interchanges and other features, and further community consultation.
Mr Lange, 59, had asked the agency to move the route slightly to avoid his property and five others, or relocate them, but it refused, he said.
After World War II, 60 huts from the United States Marines camp at Paekakariki were moved to the lodge site to provide a holiday haven for widows and children of servicemen killed in the war. They have since been dismantled. An outdoor church altar remains.
"There is huge history here," Mr Lange said. "It was started by the Wellington City Mission and nuns still come and pay their respects. It was a bomb site when we bought it, now it is an awesome business, but it is ruined.
"We were going to spend the rest of our days here. It is our income, lifestyle and retirement fund.
"I am going to be 60 next year. It is not just a matter of buying another house, it is our lifestyle."
A residents' group had lobbied for an alternative route west of SH1, which they believed would save 96 homes. "It did not seem to be considered. We were all given one proposed route as a fait accompli," he said.
Ad Feedback Investigation work is expected to be completed by the middle of next year, with construction to start in late 2013 and be completed in four years.
Marilyn and Wayne Stevens, of Te Horo, will lose 5ha of their 40ha farm but welcomed the development.
"Why stand in the way of progress? My only concern is that they hurry up and build the thing instead of just talking about it," Mrs Stevens said.
Scrub clearance and fencing work will be done by 60 Community Max workers who will prepare the way for construction of the actual cycle, walking and horse riding trail to begin.
The workers are currently going through an induction period learning about health and safety issues and other skills. They are employed by four community trusts from communities along the rail trail route.
The preparatory work is starting on the rail trail's 47km mid-section from Kawakawa to Okaihau with a longer term plan to extend the trail to the Hokianga, creating a magnificent and unique coast to coast route.
The Kawakawa to Okaihau section is being built on land leased from KiwiRail with $4 million of construction funding allocated as part of the government's national cycleway project to generate employment in an environmentally friendly way.
The national project is being championed by Prime Minister John Key as a means of generating tourism, economic growth and employment throughout the country, particularly in small communities such as those along the proposed mid-North route where work opportunities are limited.
The Western (Kaikohe/Hokianga) Community Board, with the support of the council, identified the 47km mid section as a potential tourist route for cyclists and developed a proposal that became one of the government's national "quick start" cycleway projects.
Far North Mayor Wayne Brown says the council is pleased to back the project, which will bring tangible benefits to the townships along its route.
"We've grasped this opportunity because of its tourism and job creation potential in our district," he says.
"I commend the Western board, especially its chairwoman Tracy Dalton, for seeing the potential and having the vision to drive the project forward."
Ms Dalton says she was inspired by the success of the Otago Central rail trail, which is seen as a role model for the mid-North experience.
"It has become a major tourist attraction with substantial growth in small business opportunities, all of which can happen just as easily here," she says.
"Our trail will tell the story of an emerging nation, capturing the heritage of our pioneers and our Maori and telling their stories along the way. I see so much potential for business growth in areas such as accommodation, food and beverage, cycle-related services, transportation and tourism activity including guided tours and events and cultural and historical experiences."
If this land is being leased from KiwiRail, I hope there is provision to turn it back into a rail corridor in the future when the economy/business interests see its necessity for trains and not cycles.
George Troup designed railway stations. But that was a century ago and few of his works are still standing. Precious few.
The possible disappearance of yet another Troup station is forcing a band of Ashburton folk to make a stand. Their town's station, one of the last designed by Troup, has stood near the centre of the town since 1917. No train passengers use it, because no passenger trains come down the line any more. Its owner wants to demolish it and put up a new commercial building.
The Ashburton Heritage Trust, launched in 2007 to save the station, has pledged to fight proposals for demolition. The trust is embroiled in the resource consent process with the owner and discussions over purchase with the Ashburton District Council.
New Zealand's network of railway lines was once studded with 1400 stations. Ranging from complex structures to small shelter sheds, they were witnesses to a lost age.
In the era when railways dominated transport, they saw soldiers kiss wives and mothers goodbye as they headed to the wars. They saw bitter-sweet reunions when the men came home again, haunted by memories of death. They saw pupils clamber down from trains with knees muddied and shirts torn from school playground mayhem. They heard shoppers comparing bargains they had made in the far-off city. They felt the jollity of crowds sending newlyweds on honeymoon. They sensed the despair of men parting with a last shilling for a ride somewhere, anywhere, in search of a job. They watched the farmer loading his cream cans on to the train. They saw the store keeper collecting supplies for his shelves. They shared the apprehension of the young woman moving to the city to begin nursing training. They watched crowds on special trains to the races, company picnics, rugby tests.
As the days have gone, so have the stations. Fewer than 100 remain throughout the country.
Troup, as NZ Railways' chief architect, was associated with the design of many railway structures. He came to New Zealand from Scotland in 1884 and joined the railways department two years later as a draughtsman. He became the first official architect for NZ Railways, based in Wellington. He retired in 1925 and entered politics. He was mayor of Wellington for one term from 1927, sat on many boards and stood unsuccessfully for parliament.
The South Island main trunk (SIMT) began and ended with his stations - at Picton and Bluff. Picton's old station, doorway to the South Island for Cook Strait ferry travellers, has undergone great changes. Bluff's, once the southernmost station in the world, has vanished.
Along the 1000 kilometres of track that links these towns stands Troup's, and New Zealand's, most beautiful station, in central Dunedin. This 1906 temple of travel is one of New Zealand's most notable public buildings.
NZ Rail Heritage Trust chairman Euan McQueen calls Dunedin station "Troup's flagship". It is the only one of his stations built in stone. Its ornateness gained Troup the nickname Gingerbread George.
Ashburton station is not that grand but supporters say it must be retained for its heritage values. It is one of only five remaining timber stations designed by Troup on the SIMT, along with Mataura, Wingatui, Oamaru and Blenheim.
Ad Feedback Kaiapoi station still stands, too, but removed from its trackside location to the north bank of the Kaiapoi River. It looks attractive there but is only half the building it once was, after the onslaughts of weather and vandals at its previous site.
With no passenger trains operating south of Rolleston, and only one north of Christchurch, the remaining stations have been converted to other uses. The Oamaru and Blenheim stations, though on a different scale from Dunedin's, are pleasing for their proportions and the adornments Troup lavished upon them. Mataura (Southland) and Wingatui (near Dunedin) stations remain close to their original form.
Ashburton station is similar to Oamaru's, though smaller, as Oamaru's contains a full dining room. Ashburton's level of ornamentation is more restrained, a reflection of shortages of money and imported materials during World War I, when it was designed and built.
Other South Island stations with Troup associations that survive include Belgrove and Glenhope on the former Nelson line, Greymouth and Moana on the West Coast and Clyde in Central Otago.
McQueen says Troup's timber stations can be broadly classified as vintage and standard. Ashburton and Kaiapoi are examples of the vintage type.
The style and architectural presence of Troup's vintage stations "reflected the significance of the railway in the period in which most were built (1900-1908), and the importance of the railway station in the respective towns", McQueen says.
Ashburton Heritage Trust spokesman Don McLeod says Ashburton station is a reminder of an era in which the railway was a social hub and economic powerhouse for the town and the wider district.
Trust secretary Maxine Watson said at the 2008 resource consent hearing that the station was important to Ashburton from an historical, aesthetic and architectural point of view. It gave a sense of place, identity and continuity. The station is listed by the council and the Historic Places Trust as a heritage building.
Station owner Redson Corporation bought the building 20 years ago but has been unable recently to find suitable tenants.
Director Peter Hanson, who is overseas, told The Press in 2008 the only hope for the building was if the Ashburton District Council bought it. He had offered it for sale in 2007 but the council had declined.
To keep the building he would have to pay $450,000 to bring it up to Building Act standard. Fitting-out for a tenant would cost a further $400,000, Hanson said.
Redson's application for consent to demolish the station was declined by a commissioner at the 2008 hearing. Redson appealed the decision to the Environment Court. The outcome is still awaited.
Meanwhile, McLeod says the trust has attracted interest from three prospective tenants for the building. It will ask the council to negotiate purchase of the station and give the trust a heritage grant sufficient to pay for it, so the trust would own it. The trust is fundraising for the costs of restoring the building. It would let space at lower rates than a commercial owner would require.
Success for the trust would ensure a memorial to Troup.
North Island interest in Hyde Station
By Stu Oldham on Tue, 3 Aug 2010
There is a very good chance a piece of Central Otago history will be bought by a North Islander.
Hyde Railway Station owners Richard and Robyn Hay are talking to several groups keen to buy the 116-year-old landmark on the Otago Central Rail Trail.
All were based in the North Island, Mrs Hay said yesterday.
It was too early to say what a prospective buyer might do with the little kauri station, but it was clear the couple were not about to sell "just to anyone".
"We have a figure in mind, they have a figure in mind, but it is such an awkward thing to value," Mrs Hay said.
"There is an emotional aspect to this, too. It will really come down to getting the right buyer. It's not for sale just at any price."
Their online tender sale generated plenty of interest.
"Something like 99%" of the inquiries were from North Islanders who had ridden the rail trail or who had personal memories of the area.
"It's been amazing. We've heard from so many people with so many wonderful stories that after all this is over, I might have enough to write a book," she said.
The Hays have owned the station since Mr Hay, then a 23-year-old Dunedin joiner, bought it from the Railways Corporation in 1990.
It had not been manned for 20 years before the last passenger train passed through in 1990.
The Otago Central Rail Trail Trust declined to make an offer, but it hoped the station's new owner would be as keen on its history as the Hays.
Editorial: Save the station
The Marlborough Express
Last updated 12:18 30/07/2010
New Zealand's love affair with old trains doesn't appear to stretch to old railway stations.
Blenheim residents Robert Crichton and Bill Cox are having a crack at getting someone to care about the Blenheim Railway Station, which as either a first or last impression of this town is pretty poor.
Though it looked remarkably spruce when the pair were photographed for the Express yesterday, the station is notorious for being rubbish-strewn and not having decent amenities for passengers. It's not a place to linger and an unfortunate place to be caught if a train is late.
It's a shame, because it is one of the entranceways to Marlborough and the building doesn't deserve it. It is a lovely piece of architecture, reminiscent of the way we lived; a nostalgia that Marcus Lush tapped into in his popular television series on rail.
And with Marlborough having done away with most of its older buildings, the railway station is deserving of preservation in the form of some TLC.
Built in 1906, the station was designed by George Alexander Troup, also the architect of the Dunedin and Wellington railways stations. It has category 2 status under the Historic Places Trust, but, of course, that is no form of protection. For protection it would probably need to be included in the council's district plan.
While no-one is suggesting the building is to be changed or removed, Messrs Crichton and Cox would just like the station cleaned as often as possible to avoid rubbish build-up. They would also like to see some sheltered seats. Not much to ask.
The mayor has also expressed frustration at how people treat the place, saying it's a daily exercise to keep it clean. Part of the problem is people parking up at the station and using it as a rubbish tip. That's a hard one to solve, given people's propensity to ditch their litter. Sometimes it takes a town-wide initiative and a big idea like Kaikoura's Green Globe strategy to get everyone alongside a mundane practice such as keeping a place clean and tidy.
Destination Marlborough, which runs the i-Site on the property, says a solution is just round the corner. Plans will be presented to the council soon covering both the new i-Site planned for the car park and the future of the station building.
The decision has been made to build a new i-Site, but it is a shame that nothing could be done with the old building. Or perhaps it can – as Destination Marlborough is hinting at, with talk of the big reveal covering the proposed building and the future of the railway station.
So let's presume an innovative solution is on track that will preserve both the historic importance of the building and get more people involved in its use and upkeep. As a letter writer to The Marlborough Express said when the issue came up a year ago, let's enhance rather than destroy something that cannot be replaced. And let's presume more people than the writer and Messrs Crichton and Cox are interested in it.
Karangahake: Windows into darkness
By Jim Eagles
12:00 PM Thursday Aug 5, 2010
Mysterious trails lead to the ruins of an old mining operation, writes Jim Eagles.
A network of tracks and tunnels opens up Karangahake Gorge.
I'm feeling my way through the darkness by running my boot along a rail on the floor of the tunnel.
I have no idea where this narrow-gauge rail track leads: the surface is pretty rough underfoot.
From time to time, glow worms shine from above, doing nothing to improve the visibility - as this is part of an old gold-mining operation I keep wondering if I'm wandering towards a deep shaft, down which I'll plunge to my doom.
I can see why the Department of Conservation notice for this route says "a torch is desirable".
But then, in the distance, a glimmer of light appears and walking slowly becomes easier.
The light comes from a hole cut in the rock wall of the tunnel, which looks out on to the rugged Waitawheta Gorge and the Waitewheta River, which powers its way through the rocks about 35m below.
This is the Windows Walk - named for the four openings like this which provide intermittent illumination along the tunnel - which forms part of the wonderful network of walking tracks focused around the Karangahake Gorge between Paeroa and Waihi.
Last time I explored the gorge, about five years ago, DoC was busy upgrading the Windows Walk so I wasn't able to check it out.
Instead, I gazed hopefully up at the mysterious rock windows from the Crown Tramway Track on the other side of the river - half expecting to see a couple of bearded dwarves peering grumpily back - and made a mental note to come back when the upgrade was completed.
That has long since happened and DoC has extended the original tunnel by 70m, to form a link with the network of tracks up the Waitawheta Gorge, restored the tramway rails and put gates across the various mine shafts which aren't safe to enter.
I planned to check out the new route as part of a big loop around the track circuit, which I guesstimated would take four to five hours.
Unfortunately, when this scheme finally came to pass, my journey there started under grey skies: I ran into drizzle around Kerepehi, hit rain at Paeroa and reached the Karangahake Gorge in a torrential downpour.
Sadly, in the face of all this wetness I chickened out and decided to do a much smaller loop, taking advantage of the shelter provided by the tunnels.
This short walk involved parking at Karangahake Hall, where locals were setting up the Saturday market, bouncing across the swing bridge over the Ohinemuri River and walking through the fantastic old 1 km railway tunnel, home to lots of glow worms and, these days, some useful electric lighting, to join the Karangahake Historic Walkway which leads to the Crown Track.
At the start of this track, where the Ohinemuri and Waitawheta Rivers meet, are the impressive ruins of the Talisman and Woodstock Batteries, built more than a century ago to crush rocks extracted from the Woodstock mine.
The tunnels which today form the Windows Walk were excavated as part of this mine, which finally shut in 1918.
The walkway was actually the route of the old horse-drawn tramway used to carry quartz from the shafts to the two batteries, where it was crushed by 90 giant stampers so the gold could be extracted.
The tunnel windows were cut so any spoil excavated by the miners could be dumped directly into the river below. After I'd shuffled my way through the tunnel, a stairway led me to a bridge across the river to the remains of the vast underground Woodstock pump house, built to power this huge operation.
I tried exploring the pumphouse tunnels using the technique that got me through the Windows Walk but after about a quarter of an hour I conceded that DoC was right to advise the use of a torch and retreated to the daylight.
From there I had hoped to walk back to the car via the Crown Tramway Track and the ruins of the Crown Battery but that route was blocked by a massive slip.
But there are walks and bridges everywhere here so it was easy enough to stroll back down the other side of the river instead.
It was still raining heavily but thanks to all the tunnels, the overhanging cliffs and the thick bush growing on either side of the gorge I was still surprisingly dry.
The photos used on the display boards along the walk show scenes of utter devastation from when gold mining was at its height - very different from what's here today.
The tracks and even the giant ruins, with their towering concrete walls and chunks of rusting iron, are now clad in green and the rivers, once choked with discarded dirt and rock, are now clear and sparkling.
So clear, in fact, that back at the final bridge there was a man swimming in the river. Was he, I wondered, searching for gold?
After a few hours walking in the rain I, on the other hand, was searching for hot coffee, which was readily available at the nearby Talisman Cafe.
But when I returned across the bridge, warmed and refreshed, the swimmer was still there, seemingly still looking. Did he know, I wondered, that most of the gold was dug out of the gorge a long time ago?
By Stu Oldham on Sat, 7 Aug 2010, Otago Daily Times
The trust promoting a plan to have cable cars rolling along Dunedin's High St might have to find between $13 million and $15 million to make it happen.
Even so, the Dunedin Cable Car Trust remained adamant that the city council should not be asked to pay for the scheme to link Mornington with the Exchange.
Confirming the preliminary costings this week, trust chairman Phillip Cole said there was a chance that private partners would have to help fund the project.
The trust had been speaking to private investors and the response so far had been encouraging.
"Whatever we do, we want to make it clear that we are not asking for any financial contribution from the council," Mr Cole said.
"As soon as you do that, you immediately get opposition based on the impact that may have on rates and we think there must be better alternatives."
The trust took its plans for a 1.5 km cable car line to the city council last year. Another group proposed a cable car up Stuart St at the same time.
An independent study questioned both plans but found the High St proposal, a commuter service where 20% of the passengers would be tourists, was more practical.
The trust committed to doing more detailed work, and to asking the community what it wanted.
Mr Cole said the idea had been developed further and that feasibility work was being undertaken to develop a realistic price-tag. The council was told last year that the project could cost as much as $19 million to complete.
New - and likely to be revised - figures suggested it could cost between $13 million and $15 million.
That would include the cost of buying three or four cars, laying the track, and building the Mornington terminus, Mr Cole said.
"This is a significant cost, so it is important that we only proceed when we are sure that it is going to work, that it can be proven to be workable, and when we have the costs right.
"And we have to know that we are doing something that people want."
He hoped most of that cost could benefit local businesses, including the railway workshops at Hillside Engineering. It was a "regional community project", he said.
The trust was planning a public open day for High Street School for September 11. The plans will be made public and people will have the chance to comment on them.
The Rimutaka Incline railway has taken delivery of TR937 a diesel shunting locomotive built by Hillside workshops in 1976. It is hoped to have it operational within the next few weeks. This will be the firts operational locomitive at the railways Maymorn site.
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