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
Construction of the eastern section of the East Coast railway began in 1910. By February 1921, rails had been laid between Matata and Awakeri but the line was not considered safe for passengers. On 27th March 1924, the section between the Mount and Matata was opened to both passengers and goods traffic but the section between Matata and Awakeri was still only considered safe for goods, finally opening officially for passengers in 1928.
The station on this site was originally called Tarawera Station and remained so on the 1939 map above even though its name was officially changed to Otakiri on Sunday, 14th February 1932. The station itself was fairly typical of the smaller stops along this line, consisting of a wooden passenger platform with a small accomodation shed, a 20ft x 30ft goods shed and a loading bay to service sheep and cattle yards. Most of the traffic was aimed at goods and stock (and even manure, which would have added to atmosphere). A crossing loop could accomodate 46 wagons, with a further 25 wagons in the goods shed loop and 33 wagons in a backshunt at the north end of the station for the cattle yards. The station wasn't staffed and would have been a flag station (request stop). The station officially opened (as Tarawera Station) in September 1920 but the station buildings were not completed until 1924. Between 1924 and 1928, the station was only open for goods, stock and mail, with passengers arriving with the opening of the line from Waihi to Taneatua.
Otakiri Station closed to passengers on 7th February 1959 and to goods on 18th July 1965. In 1978, after the opening of the Kaimai Tunnel, the terminus of the East Coast Main Trunk Railway was changed from Taneatua to Kawerau and the section from Hawkens Junction (just outside Matata) and Taneatua became the Taneatua Branch Line. The main traffic on this brach line was to the privately operated Whakatane Board Mills Line at Awakeri built in 1939. In 1999, Tranz Rail took over this line but discontinued operation in 2001. In 2003, the entire Taneatua Branch was mothballed. The line is broken in numerous places where bridges have been removed or roads have cut through and is now more or less derelict.
There is no sign left of Otakiri Station but it is quite a good place to explore the remains of the line and even a bridge crossing the nearby stream. You can also see where the road has been re-routed from its formerly straight path.
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.