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Tunnels

The Keirunga Park Railway has three tunnels. The longest tunnel in New Zealand is the Kaimai Tunnel in the North Island. It was opened on 12 September 1978 and is 8.850 kilometres.

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Wab794: The Wab is a deriviation of the Ab, but was built as a tank locomotive. Putting the water tanks above the driving wheels gave greater adhesion for faster acceleration, ideal for the constant stopping and starting required on the Auckland and Wellington suburban services where they spent much of their working lives. Wab794, built in Dunedin in 1927, is owned by the New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society but has been restored by the Feilding Steam.

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Report on Train Meet, Mana Ariki, Taumarunui, 6-10 January 2011

There was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for loco owners and their families, and the public, to visit the private Mana Ariki Marae and Railway to operate and ride on the longest miniature railway in New Zealand. This weekend was especially for 7 1/4" scale steam, diesel and electric locomotives and was held from 6-10 January 2011. Several members from Keirunga attended the weekend.

The Mana Ariki Marae and Railway is just 6 km north of Taumarunui in the central North Island of New Zealand on the east side of the river.

Weekend diary

Friday was reserved for "boys and their toys" running, with drivers testing their skill on the 3.2 kilometre long track. Running repairs to some locos kept the "brains trusts" functioning well with everyone helping out as needed. Visiting locos were from Wellington, Levin, Manukau, Tauranga, Hamilton, Cambridge, Napier and Blenheim, and visitors from around the country and Australia also arrived to enjoy the weekend.

Group at Mana Ariki on Monday.
Group at Mana Ariki on Monday.

Saturday's weather could be summed up in 3 words - warm, fine, calm, with predictions of a scorcher of a day. After the official opening of the Marae's newly redecorated Betty's Boulevard, the official party were treated to a circuit of the track. Then it was opened to the public and all the locos were out on the track. Sometimes the station was full, other times it was deserted, with only the youngsters racing around with the hand operated jigger. Other young hands manned the water hose and ticket clippers, and enjoyed rides on each of the trains.

After a hangi evening meal, the showtime band put on a concert on the newly dedicated stage.

Sunday was the second public running day and a repeat of Saturday's weather - warm, fine, calm.

While there were lower public numbers, about 10 locos operated all day with few incidents, except one derailment and slight damage at Pioneers Station. This prompted a quick repair job with a portable welder, then a few of the locos held up ran slowly over the repaired points. After that there were no more problems.

3 men in a shed.
3 men in a shed.

A double header of DG750 and 500 did about five circuits of the track including the last of the day. They were followed by Dave Giles on his Phantom so Dale could video the circuit from behind. When we got back to the station, Mr Giles announced that it was the fastest circuit he had ever done! He also told Lyall and Mike that they almost qualified for a speeding ticket. Secretly though, it was the most fun Gilesy had had all weekend!

DG760 and 500 doubleheader.
DG760 and 500 doubleheader.

Monday - weather fine, warm, calm. This was the day reserved for reverse running. Some of the drivers were pretty excited by the prospect of going round the track the wrong way, and Dave Giles confirmed it was the first time in ten years that it had been done. But first all the trailing points had to be wedged open! Then we were off!

All loaded up ready to leave the station.
All loaded up ready to leave the station.

After morning tea, all the locos steamed up and rolled out for a photo shoot by RailScene to be published in March 2011. There were 7 locos on the track one after the other as we chugged past the video cameras at various points around the track (See YouTube Video 1 below). Luckily one of the last circuits by DG760 spotted a couple of grass fires caused by a steamer, which had the potential to get out of control, but some quick action by the passengers saved the day.

After a lovely lunch provided by the Marae, we packed up and left, happy, full and tired.

A huge vote of thanks go to the Mana Ariki Marae staff and volunteers for welcoming us to their special place, for feeding and accommodating us and providing security for the weekend. Thanks also to Dave Giles and his team for organising the event, and all the loco drivers and visitors for helping to make the weekend so successful.

The Mana Ariki Train Meet 2011 can be summed up in three quotes: Awesome track! Awesome place! Awesome people!

YouTube Videos

View these YouTube videos of the weekend.