A hundred years ago, the trip from Auckland to Tauranga would involve an overnight steam ferry. Today, it involves several hours of fighting through traffic. But, until surprisingly recently, there was a third alternative - you could take the train! This cache celebrates that bygone era. In discovering the long-lost stations of the East Coast Main Line, you'll be REALLY SideTracked.
The East Coast Main Line
A railway from Waihi to Taneatua was first proposed in 1905 but was not completed until 1928. The proposed extension to Opotiki and Gisborne was never completed, although some sections were pegged out. The section to Te Puke was completed in 1913. The ballast to build the line originally came from quarry on Moturiki. A short section of tramway was built to transport stone from the quarry to the Public Works Department depot at Mount Maunganui. Originally a pa site, the island was taken over by the Crown in 1911.
"Whereas Moturiki Island, near Tauranga, having an area of about three acres and nine perches, contains the only suitable stone for ballast purposes within easy reach of the Tauranga-Te Puke Section of the East Coast Main Trunk Railway: And whereas the said island is partly owned by Maori owners and is partly vested in the Mount Maunganui Domain Board for recreation purposes, and it is necessary to take the said island for railway purposes: Be it therefore enacted as follows:—The Governor may by Proclamation, in the manner prescribed by section twenty-nine of the Public Works Act 1908, take the whole or any part of the said Moturiki Island for a ballast-pit for the purposes of the said railway, without payment of compensation except to the Maori owners." https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1911/0029/latest/DLM178534.html
The quarry closed in 1926 when ballast started to be taken from Te Puke Quarry instead but that's not the end of the story. In 1964 a Tauranga entrepreneur put forward the idea to create a large outdoor aquarium on the old quarry site on Moturiki Island. In 1965/66 drilling took place on the old quarry floor, explosives were set and detonated. When the loose material had been excavated there remained a large open shape. In 1966, the quarry pits were converted into aquariums, displaying dolphins and other marine life.
From 1967 Marineland was home to dozens of marine mammals as well as chimpanzees, llamas, wallabies, kea, possums and ferrets. By the late 1970s, concerns over animal welfare and the deaths of several dolphins meant that dolphin, seal and chimpanzee displays were becoming less acceptable to the public and Marineland closed in May 1981, the marine animals being relocated to Napier's Marineland and other animals being rehomed in Australia.
The aquarium pools were quickly converted and Marineland was replaced by another venture, Leisure Island, which used the large pools for swimming, bumper boats and hydro slides. Many Bay of Plenty locals still remember this attraction (it closed in 1990), hence Moturiki is often referred to as ‘Leisure Island’.
Today the island (which covers almost 2.5-hectares) has reverted back to its natural state, with no signs of the former facilities or attractions visible, although as recently as 2015 a petition signed by 1688 people proposing to restore Leisure Island to "its former glory" was put before Tauranga City Council. It was unanimously rejected.
Kairua (Otaimatua) Station
Otaimatua Station was opened in October 1913 when the section of line from Mount Maunganui to Te Puke commenced passenger service under the management of the Public Works Department (PWD). The line was transferred to New Zealand Railways (NZR) and the station was officially opened on 2nd September 1928. It was a flag station, meaning that trains would only stop on request to pick up or set down passengers or goods but did have a crossing loop that could accomodate 23 wagons and an accomodation shelter shed. Around July 1930 the station name was changed to Kairua and remained so until it was closed to both passengers and goods on 28th September 1957. The crossing loop was removed later, although the open site still remains. Considering how important the railways were to communications in the early 20th century, it's appropriate that this location now hosts a cell tower.
About SideTracked caches
This cache belongs to the SideTracked series. It is not designed to take you to a magical place with a breath taking view. It's a distraction for the weary traveller, but anyone else can go and find it too. More Information can be found on the SideTracked Series website at www.sidetrackedseries.info https://www.sidetrackedseries.info
This particular cache is part of the REALLY SideTracked series which celebrates former, disused or heritage stations.