Historic haulers on Stewart Island/Rakiura

Department of Conservation —  25/06/2013

By Andrew King, Ranger – Visitor/Historic Assets, Stewart Island

At the end of April, three Winton Vintage Machinery Club members set off to help DOC with the maintenance and preservation of two log haulers that sit in the bush about an hour’s walk inland from Port William Hut on the Rakiura Track, one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks.

Hauler No 1

Hauler No 1

The haulers had been preserved and covered for years, but were located in bush a long way from any tracks, so only a small number of people ever got the chance to see them.

Hauler No 2.

Hauler No 2

In the past two years, the Rakiura Track has been realigned and gravelled to make it more enjoyable. Aligning the track with the haulers, and other relics from the saw milling days, has increased their profile and has also helped see an increase in the number of trampers on the track.

Trampers enjoying history on the Rakiura Track.

History made accessible

Colin Davidson, Nelson Horrell, Bob McNeill and I had a bumpy trip to the island, only to find that we couldn’t get onsite that day as the weather had deteriorated.

The next morning, once onsite, we carried all the tools needed and started chipping and scraping loose rust. Painting with a metal preservative, we got one hauler completed, leaving the other one to do in the summer when (hopefully) the weather is better.

Bob McNeill getting preservative in all the gaps.

Bob McNeill getting preservative in all the gaps

The guys put in a lot of effort and are a great team to work with and we hope to see them again this year.

All three Vintage Machinery  Club members working hard.

All three Vintage Machinery Club members working hard

Colin Davidson has also been involved in the maintenance of the tractor at Mason Bay—another historic site on the island that is a great example of farming in the extremes. The farming property was run by Tim Te Aika, and originally Colin had flown the tractor in by fixed wing aircraft in parts, assembling it on site.

Colin Davidson painting rust preservative.

Colin Davidson painting rust preservative

The Winton Vintage Machinery Club and other volunteer groups and individuals have been playing, and continue to play, a vital part in bringing our historic heritage to life, and preserving it for future generations to enjoy.


Just a 20 minute flight from Invercargill or an hour by ferry from Bluff, Stewart Island/Rakiura is home to New Zealand’s most southerly and newest national park, Rakiura National Park, and the Rakiura Track.

The Rakiura Track is suitable for anyone with moderate fitness. It takes three days, provides a good introduction to the scenery of Stewart Island, and is suitable for tramping all year round.

5 responses to Historic haulers on Stewart Island/Rakiura

  1. 
    Brian REynolds 02/07/2013 at 7:16 pm

    Shame DOC didn’t get this right with Jamestown eh!

    • 
      Elizabeth Marenzi 03/07/2013 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Brian,
      Thanks heaps for reading the Conservation Blog and leaving a comment. From what I understand, which is admittedly not a great deal, most of the heritage remains at Jamestown are on private land that’s not administered by DOC. I’m interested in finding out a little bit more about your comment/perspective though. I’m sure there’s something we can learn from it.

      • 
        Brian Reynolds 04/07/2013 at 10:21 am

        Youre quite right, no remains of the historic buildings of Jamestown that were on DOC land are there anymore.

        They were not restored at a time when they could have been…… and so NZFS just disposed of what was left some time in the 70s.

        It is most refreshing to see the modern DOC approach to such icons of former times as is evident on Stewart Island.

  2. 
    Alicia Warren 25/06/2013 at 11:42 am

    Wonderful to see people with specialist skills volunteering to preserve our outdoor history. I’m wondering whether the time is right to build some national networks of specialists who are available as volunteers for conservation. As well as “vintage machinery restorers for conservation”, we might also have “builders for conservation”, “_________ for conservation” (you fill in the gaps). DOCs job would be to find them projects where they could make a difference and have a great time while they did it.

    • 
      Heidi Quinn 03/07/2013 at 1:25 pm

      What a fantastic volunteer effort! And no fear, DOC is looking at a national volunteer portal which would address your comments beautifully Alicia – helping to ‘connect the dots’ across NZ 🙂