Making tracks in Tongariro with the help of KiwiRail

Department of Conservation —  20/09/2014

By DOC Ranger, Stephen Moorhouse

A power barrow can only move so much, so when DOC staff in Tongariro needed to move a substantial pile of stones to resurface a track, they decided to get hold of a slightly larger than normal barrow—a KiwiRail Train!


Old Coach Road sign. Photo: Stephen Moorhouse.

Old Coach Road — the destination

How much is a “substantial pile” of stones? Well, we’re talking about 350m³ of AP20 (i.e. very small) rocks.

That is a very large pile of very small stones!

And they all needed to end up on the central ‘skyline’ section of the Ohakune Old Coach Road—one of the most popular walking and mountain bike tracks in the area, running between Ohakune and Horopito.

As you could imagine, moving 350m³ of track surface would’ve taken us a long time. By working with KiwiRail we were able to get the job done much more easily.

“It is great to be able to work in partnership with an organisation such as KiwiRail. They provide additional support and resources that are complimentary to the outcomes of our team and the Department.” — Conservation Services Manager, Paul Carr.

With KiwiRail involved it took a diesel locomotive, 10 goods wagons, two mornings and three trips to complete the first stage of the journey. Add to that a substantial sized digger and you have got some serious machinery on the job!

A big machine for a big job! Photo: Stephen Moorhouse.

A big machine for a big job!

KiwiRail train. Photo: Stephen Moorhouse.

A larger than average power barrow!

Now the truly hard work will start.

Over the next 12 months the monstrous pile of stone will be moved from its current resting place to the ‘skyline’ to ensure a superb track surface. This process, unfortunately, won’t have the help of a train, but will be completed by DOC staff with quad bikes, trailers and hard graft.

DOC has developed close links with KiwiRail on other projects too. A trapping initiative, to protect resident whio and kiwi at the Makatote Viaduct, is one of these.

“KiwiRail are generous, supportive and have conservation outcomes in common with the Department. They have a passion as an organisation to preserve the environment that they operate in.” — Ranger Cassandra Reid.

Stones on the train track. Photo: Stephen Moorhouse.

The aftermath