The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
The Main Trunk in a Day!
or, more correctly, Puketutu to Manunui sometime in early 1972

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.

Back in 1972 the North Island Main Trunk was a busy railway but then that was in the days prior to deregulation and electrification. The majority of the traffic was in four wheeled wagons so overall speeds were low and it was, as a friend wrote a year or so back, still a steam railway but now using diesels. Those thoughts were forty years from my mind though the day I headed out from Rotorua for the Main Trunk intent on finding trains to photograph. I had no knowledge of the schedules but knew traffic was heavy and I would have little difficulty in finding a train.

Looking at these photos, after scanning, I was surprised at just how scenic an area this section of the Trunk is. It's not an area I know well and although I was noting where I took the pictures at the time errors can happen......

Da1471 approaches Puketutu station. Another train is already safely tucked away in the loop allowing 1471 to pass through on the main.

With the crossing over Da1517 pulls out of the loop and resumes its journey.

A Da from a distance.....this time it's 1405 passing through Porootaroo.

All I've written on this slide is Da1517 so am really not sure where exactly it was taken. The shot does show the variety of four wheel wagons being used by the railways at that time.

Da1405 waits in the loop at Waimiha. Of interest are the two railway houses on the left of the loco: once every station along the trunk would have had similar to house staff needed to keep the railway running.

Feeling that was enough of the Da class for the day I moved onto other subjects and this sign at Taringamotu caught my attention especially as there was no track for any engine to run on. This would be where the Taringamotu Totara Sawmills Ltd tramway crossed the road heading for the NZR. The tramway had closed by1957 and no doubt the rails were lifted soon after but the crossing sign lingered on.

Even more of an attention grabber was this bush lokey parked alongside the road. It wasn't until I started writing this tale it was identified as a Price C. Built in 1922 and used until the 1960s it is now in storage at the Tokomaru Steam Museum.

Two eighty-eight seater railcars race through Okahukura with the north bound 'Blue Streak' service from Wellington to Auckland. As provincial railcar services were being run down and eliminated in the rest of the country the Railways introduced an upmarket daylight service between New Zealand's two main centres. It was a success and its successor still runs today: one of only three long distance passenger train in the country.

All I wrote on this slide at the time was Manunui. With help from Ian Jenner the loco has been identified as being built by Wilson Bros of Invercargill in 1939. It worked at Manunui until 1988 and today sits derelict outside the Ohura Museum without its power bogie.


Rob Dickinson