Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Waitakere Dam Tramline

Last Sunday, I was invited to join a party of historical society folk from Waikato and West Auckland, visting the Waitakere Tramline near Swanson.

The tramline is part of the Watercare facilities there, leading to Waitakere Dam, and was constructed in 1905. Today, it's part of the Waitakere Tramline Society.

First, you see the filter station ...

Then a pleasant walk up a bush-clad walk (this is the tarsealed bit at the beginning. Most is just metal) ...

... past ancient rocks ...

.... until you see the entrance to Georges Tunnel, the first of two on the tramline. No photography allowed in the tunnel because at the far end there's glow-worms (first ones I've seen since a trip as a nipper to Waitomo.)

The Harvey Stewart Flyer emerges. Built in 1976 by Alert Engineering and Waitakere Tramline Society members, is was so-christened in honour of Harvey Stewart, a friend of the club and train buff. Powered by a 2.5 hp Kawasaki 4 stroke petrol engine originally, it has been re-powered twice (up to 2005) and as at that date had a 16hp Kubota diesel engine, according to their guide book.

And if you click the video, you'll hear what it sounds like.

Waitakere Tramline

The carriages are small, because of the size of the tunnels, and very, very cramped if you have long legs. I've still got sore thighs from holding my feet as far away from the outer edge as I possibly could.

The Society apparently want to get a two-foot guage Model-T loco (below) up and running on the line (these photos, as with the two at the top of the post, from their display room). It's not original to the line to the dam, but the Society have loaned it to the Victoria Battery Society at Waihi until 2005, and are not looking for knowledgeablr people to recondition it for the Waitakeres.

Our guide who welcomed us to "Jurassic Park" on the other side of George's Tunnel.

Once you're out of the bush and tunnels -- there are spectular views, like this: Waitakere Falls.

This (above) is a chute carrying Kelly's Stream over the tramline to the valley below.

I climbed the stairs to the top of the dam. Far, far more scary coming down, especially with my phobia! Still, feel the fear, and be a lunatic anyway, I always say ...

The views, though were worth it.

So -- a small excursion, on a small train, but through beautiful scenery. Well worth a visit.


  1. Great shots! It's a good trip too. Went on it ages ago and really enjoyed it. Glad you had such a great time.

  2. Cheers, Liz. You'd fit better than I did on the carriage seats, though! ;-)

  3. We walked a wee way around some of the tracks a couple years back...here's a couple of pics http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkynz/sets/72157605225079613/ It's very very pretty isn't it. Haven't done the train ride though although the train passed us at one stage.
    Nice pics!

  4. Thanks for taking us on a lovely trek with you, the scenery is gorgeous :)

  5. Cheers, Sandy. I see your shots were of the Rain Forest Express along to the Upper Nihotupu Dam. That's something I haven't done yet (hopefully one of the groups I belong to might get the idea to do a trip). :-)

    You're welcome, Jayne. :-)

  6. The Waitakere Tramline is presently down as up to this date of June 9th 2012 due to a washout under a track,100m past the western end of Georges Tunnel; we are expecting to re-open once repairs have been completed and signed off. Hopefully by end of August. Until then please visit our website (soon to be also modified to a fresher appearance)and notify us with an email that you wish to be put on the waiting list for a trip. First come basis- be quick if you want to book by Christmas!) or alternatively check out our FACEBOOK pasge under Waitakere Tramline and leave a comment stating you saw this posting... who knows..we MIGHT give you a free ticket!Cheers. Jim. Member of Waitakere Tramline Society Committee

    1. Hi . Jim again, Waitakere Tramline has re opened for business, and look forward to seeing your smiling faces. BTW the video shows one of our members the late Joe Kershaw reversing the train. Itt must have been just before he succumbed to cancer. May he Rest in Peace.

    2. Thanks, Jim. My condolences to Joe Kershaw's family and friends.

  7. A belated update, that due to unforseen circumstances and the new NZ HSE laws, the Waitakere Tramline has been closed until further notice, as from November 24th 2014. All further enquiries should be directed to Watercare Services in Auckland.
    Sorry for any inconvenience caused. Please refer to the Waitakere Tramline and NZ Regional Trains Facebook page that I administer along with Richard L for any updates or past news.