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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.