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Water Race: The Cruickshank Legacy (Upper Hutt)

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Hidden : 04/05/2016
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Size: Size:   small (small)

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Geocache Description:

Water Race

The Cache

The cache is a camouflaged pill bottle hidden above the eastern entrance to James Cruickshank's water race tunnel. The water race opening is about 20 meters west of the main Cruickshanks Tunnel entrance and easy to spot.

Getting there

Follow the instructions for navigating to Don't Mill Me. Walk the informal track to the top of the beech forest slope and onward a short distance. The sketchy path follows the remnants of the mill water race channel and at the top of the beech forest skirts a deep trench. If you investigate you'll be able to look down the west entrance of James Cruickshank's race tunnel. You'll see light at the far end, and this is where you'll find the cache.

I recommend continuing on the bush track rather than tackling the underground route, although I met a man up here who had crawled through and survived. From here the track turns right and drops down onto the old rail corridor. Look left and you'll see the main tunnel entrance. Walk toward it but keep your eyes on the left bank of the cutting, where you'll see the eastern end of the water race. It was cleaved at this point when the main rail tunnel was put through.

This is the Game Zone but you may have trouble getting accurate GPS reception which is why I have been specific with the instructions.

Note: This end of the main rail tunnel can be muddy in winter so gumboots may be a good option if you intend to walk through to pick up the other caches in this series.

The Cruickshank Legacy series

The Cruickshank Legacy series of caches consists of:

Cruickshank Tunnel

This series of caches is centred around the Cruickshank Tunnel on the original route of the Upper Hutt to Featherston railway line. The 120 metre tunnel passes under the hills that separate Maoribank and Mangaroa and sits in an isolated spot only accessible by an informal bush track. The tunnel, with a gradient of 1 in 35, was built in 1875 and opened on 28 December 1877. It closed 29 October 1955, three weeks after the opening of it's replacement, the Rimutaka rail Tunnel.

James Cruickshank's mill

Standing beside the underpass at the top of Cruickshank Road you can look down on the site of James Cruickshank's sawmill which he set up in 1852. James landed at Port Chalmers on the "Phoebe Dunbar", and moved north, settling in the Hutt valley and eyeing up the bush around Maoribank and the surrounding hills.

Cruickshank powered his saws with an impressive 30 ft water-wheel fed with water from the Mangaroa river. He excavated the original tunnel for his water race though the hills above, taking advantage of the higher elevation of the Mangaroa Valley on the other side; and the stream was caught in a lake before gravitating to the mill wheel. The western section of the rough-hewn race can still be seen as you approach the entrance of the Cruickshank Rail Tunnel.

The Cruickshank home overlooked the mill and he cleared land for the north end of the township.

Cruickshank sat for some time on the Wellington Provincial Council, was prominent in politics, the militia and free-masonry.

War Games

In the book 'NZ's First World War Heritage', Imelda Bargas mentions that Cruickshanks Tunnel and the surrounding area was used as an arena to train troops during battle simulations;
"One group of recruits defended the tunnel while the other group attacked it. It provided a meaningful stand-in for the real strategic points the men would fight over at the front." The troops were based at Maymorn camp which sat on the railway line just down from Cruickshanks tunnel.

The proposed cycleway

In 2015 Upper Hutt City Council considered a proposal to create a walkway/cycleway from Park St to Cruickshank Tunnel along the original route of the Upper Hutt to Featherston railway line. However, at a cost of $452,000, it was put on the back-burner.

  jojo&dobby  agcnz  Tufty

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Urnq urvtug nobir ragenapr

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)

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