New Zealand November 2009
Report copyright (c) 2010 Dr Fred Barker, first published in IA News
On Wednesday 4th November a group of sixteen people comprising members of the Newcomen Society, of the Association for Industrial Archaeology, and guests assembled after breakfast at the Waipuna Hotel in a southern Auckland suburb to begin a tour of the North and South Islands. We are indebted to Rob Aspden, chairman of the Wellington Chapter of the IPENZ (Institution of Professional Engineers of NZ) Engineering Heritage Board and John La Roche, chairman of the Auckland Chapter, who put together the excellent North and South Island programmes.
While in Auckland, we were made extremely welcome by members of the Auckland Chapter and their wives.
The first visit was to the Tamaki River Bridge, Panmure, which was designed by W. R. Collett and built in 1864-65 as a swing span bridge with a swing of 40 feet at a cost of £15,189 14s 7d for the bridge and £1,835 5s 5d for the approach roads, toll house and mooring dolphins. A hand-operated winch rotated the swinging span on a circular track, but the mechanism was slow and often resulted in long delays to the river traffic. A ships' chandlery has been erected on top of the swinging span but part of this structure, the circular rail and the hand winch can still be seen. The bridge remained in use until it was replaced in 1916 by a ferro-concrete bridge at a higher level, which in turn was demolished and replaced by a third bridge which opened in 1959.
The second visit was to Musick Point radio station on a headland on the east side of the Tamaki Strait overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. It is a prominent white building in the art deco style having a shape reminiscent of an aeroplane and was opened in 1942 as a receiving station for maritime and emergency services. After the war the Civil Aviation department used the upper floor to cope with increasing air traffic while the Post Office used the ground floor for shipping communication. These services were later transferred elsewhere but Telecom operated Auckland Radio ZLD until 1993. The building is now looked after by the Musick Point Trust and is used by radio amateurs. It is named after Captain Edward Musick who in 1937 landed a Sikorsky S42B flying boat "Samoan Clipper" near Mechanics Bay on a route surveying flight from the USA. Unfortunately, on 11th January 1938 the captain and his crew were lost in the same flying boat when it went into the sea near Pago Pago.
The group then divided - one party visited a winery for lunch, and then Stony Batter, which is Auckland's last fortress. The other group spent the afternoon at New Zealand Steel, at Glenbrook. Two and a half million years ago volcanoes in the area ejected quantities of titanomagnetite which through the actions of sea and wind were deposited as black sand dunes behind the headlands of the west coast of the North Island. The industry here has a history of some 130 years, during which numerous ideas for extracting the iron from the sand were tried, virtually all of which proved unworkable or uneconomical. However, there is currently a flourishing steel industry which uses the black sand and local coal deposits. The sand is made into an aqueous slurry which is piped from the mine at Waikato North Head to the steel works at Glenbrook, while the coal is brought in by rail from Huntly. The coal is heated to drive off volatile materials and is then used to reduce the iron sand to sponge iron in a rotary kiln. The sponge iron passes to an electric melter from which it emerges as molten pig iron. Vanadium is then recovered, the sale of which assists the profitability of the process before the pig iron, plus a proportion of scrap, is converted to molten steel on a KOBM Oxygen Converter. We saw ladles feeding molten steel into a continuous casting machine which produces an endless slab of steel which is cut by torches into the required lengths and then stacked automatically and left to cool. Ultimately the steel is rolled into flat sheet which can be continuously coated with various finishes. Glenbrook is the largest industrial site in the country and it produces over 70% of the electricity requirement of the steel works. The company is very profitable and exports about half of its production.
The first visit on Thursday 5th was to Auckland's Museum of Transport and Technology [MOTAT] where we were treated to a ride on a 1902 tram to the aviation section which boasts among other items a Lancaster Bomber and a TEAL Solent flying boat; we were able to explore the interior of the Solent and envy the comfort of its passengers who sat at tables laid with cutlery and china. The tram returned us to the restoration workshops which were explored at leisure.
|When MOTAT was founded in 1964 it took on the care of what is now called the Pumphouse which houses the beam engine at Western Springs pumping station which opened in 1877 to supply spring water to Auckland. This supply eventually proved inadequate and in 1910 the first of five dams was built in the Waitakere Ranges; Western Springs was reduced to a summer back-up supply by 1920 and was last used in the summer of 1926-7. The boilers were scrapped in 1937 but the engine survived. Its restoration was completed in 2008 and we were able to see the engine in steam. During lunch taken in the museum we were addressed by Jeremy Hubbard, the museum director.|
After lunch we were ferried in private cars to the Arataki visitor centre to view the lower Nihotupu dam. Then followed an exceptional experience - a private ride on the Rainforest Express Railway, which is the pride and joy of Harvey Stewart, who drove the train for us. He has been in charge of the railway for many years and has been closely involved with the building of the rolling stock and maintenance of the permanent way. This diesel hauled line of about 5.5km is the survivor of a network of 2' gauge lines which was used during dam construction and the line is still used for the maintenance of the water pipe which it runs alongside from Jacobson Depot to the Upper Nihotupu dam. In the tunnels we saw glow worms, which look like tiny, green light emitting diodes, and wetas, which resemble overgrown stick insects, and we had a fine view of the river and rainforest from a trestle viaduct. On the return journey we stopped in a siding to mark Harvey's birthday with lemonade and cake while watching the rain from a capacious shelter.
On the way to Thames the following morning we saw from the coach the Kopu swing bridge which opened in 1928. Traffic lights were installed in the 1960s to control the long single lane, and a design for a new two lane bridge just upstream has recently been approved. The swing mechanism still works and sees occasional use. In Thames we visited A. and G. Price, Ltd, a heavy engineering works occupying wooden buildings dating from 1871. The brothers Alfred and George opened their first works in 1868 at Onehunga and followed it with the Thames branch where they originally made gold mining equipment such as stamper batteries, pumps and Pelton wheels. Many large and small railway engines, both steam and diesel were also manufactured. Today the works can produce iron castings weighing up to 10,000kg, and lesser weights in other metals, and it has a pattern- making workshop. We saw a travelling crane capable of lifting two tons even though running on wooden rails and supports, and an extensive historical collection of engineering drawings. A chemistry laboratory allows experimentation with alloy composition.
There followed a short visit to the Thames School of Mines which is preserved as a museum where one can see the board room, the mineral collection and the teaching laboratory, the last resembling laboratories which the writer remembers from school and university days. The school moved into the building, which had previously been a Wesleyan Sunday school, in 1886 and became one of the largest of the then 30 schools of mines.
We moved on to the Waihi visitor centre and walked up the bank opposite to see the Martha open cast gold mine, an enormous hole in the ground, which yields up to
110 truck loads of ore per day. Nearby is the shell of a Cornish-style engine house which had been moved a short distance from its original location.
In the coach we toured the ore processing plant and saw in the distance the entrance to the Favona deep mine. When the mines are worked out the company will restore the landscape to something near to its original appearance, but as new deposits of ore are still being discovered this is not imminent.
The final educational visit of the day was to Red Stag Timber at Waipa Mill, which we reached too late for a tour but the manager kindly addressed the group. We learned about the cutting, drying and treatment of the timber. Machine stress grading of structural timber, high speed drying kilns and a boron treatment plant have recently been introduced. Most of the timber produced is for structural use but industrial, appearance and furniture timber are also made.
Our guide for the North Island was John La Roche; that evening, he and his wife Sue entertained the group to a barbecue at his family's bach, which is a kind of rural retreat popular in New Zealand. The house is a large bungalow with a lawn which slopes gently down to the shore of Rotoiti [= second lake], affording a beautiful view of the mountains across the water. The view, the drinks, the company and Sue's accomplished cooking made the evening memorable. John and Sue also produced a 63-page document for us with notes by various authorities, including Sir John Ingram on the NZ steel industry, Rob Merrifield on the railways, himself on many sites and many pictures and diagrams of the places we visited, for which we were very grateful.
Saturday morning began with Waiotapu thermal area near Rotorua. This has become a tourist attraction but is nonetheless a fascinating landscape of mud pools and lakes eructing steam, and of sulphur deposits, silica terraces and geysers. Lady Knox geyser has a natural cycle of more than twenty four hours but is made to erupt daily at 10.15am because the arrangement of underground chambers makes it susceptible to surface tension lowering agents such as washing powder, tipped in by the master of ceremonies; a few minutes of exudation of suds are followed by a jet of steaming water.
We moved on to the Aratiatia dam and the power station a short distance downstream. This was the last Waikato hydro project and opened in 1964; the plans had caused much controversy because of the beauty of the location so the station was made as unobtrusive as possible. The rapids below the place where the dam was built had been a scenic attraction, so a spillway gate in the dam is opened four times each day. The build up of the rapids over ten minutes or so is a remarkable sight. A 110 feet head of water feeds three turbines each driving a 30MW generator.
After looking briefly at Wairakei geothermal power station we lunched and continued to Wairakei geothermal bore field which can be studied from a viewing platform. A large, natural, underground water system is heated by very hot rock and is tapped by 61 wells with an average depth of 610m and a maximum depth in excess of 1500m. The release of pressure due to the wells causes the water to boil so the output from each well is a steam and water mixture which passes through a separator, from which the steam is led to the turbines. The water, still under some pressure, passes into silencers where it boils again as a result of the final drop in pressure and produces large puffs of steam. The turbines are in two power stations, producing 102.6MW and 90MW which amounts to about 10% of the country's electricity consumption. The final visit of the afternoon was to the Taupo Volcanic Activity Centre which has displays relating to local features and to geological features of the country in general.
On Sunday we visited the Turangi Visitor Centre to see the model of the Tongariro power project which shows how the power stations draw on the waters draining
from the slopes of Mount Ruapehu and neighbouring peaks flowing east and west are diverted into Lake Taupo and the Waikato hydro stations.
This was followed by a brief stop to see Turangi power station from a hill, and another stop to watch the 'Overlander' express train from Auckland to Wellington climb the Raurimu spiral which in a direct line of 686m allows 71m in height to be gained along 4km of track at an average gradient of 1 in 56.
Another brief stop allowed us to see the Makatote viaduct which is the highest steel trestle viaduct on the North Island Main Trunk Railway.
At Tangiwai railway bridge we saw the display and memorial commemorating one of the county's worst disasters. On Christmas eve, 1953, part of the crater wall of Mount Ruapehu collapsed, releasing a huge flood of 2 million cubic metres of water and silt from the lake which found its way into the Whangaehu river and produced a wave of water and debris 6m high which swept away a span of the bridge leaving the rails in the air, and also swept away a concrete support. At 10.21pm the Wellington to Auckland express reached the bridge at speed which collapsed under its weight, the ensuing catastrophe causing the loss of 151 lives while 134 people survived. The memorial stated that the noise was audible 10km away in Waioru, which by coincidence was our next stop, where we were shown around the reserve collection of the Military Museum by the second in command, Major Chas Charlton. The museum houses a large collection of vehicles of many types in various stages of restoration, including field guns of WW1 vintage, or earlier, a JCB painted in desert sand, a scout car, a Scorpion tank, and a canteen truck. We learned that the New Zealand Air Force now has no strike capability and is purely a transport service.
After spending the night in Taihape our first stop on Monday was Mangaweka to view the railway viaducts and the remains of the old power station. A 10m high dam was built across the Mangawharaiki river to provide a head of water for a turbine driven 25Kw generator which came into use in 1911 and remained so until 1937. Little more than the foundations of the generator house remain although the information panels are instructive. We continued to the remarkable Tokomaru steam museum which was opened in 1970 by Colin and Esma Stevenson. Colin was in hospital for routine surgery so we were shown around by Esma, who described how they have been collecting steam engines of diverse types for most of their married lives, without state funding. There are agricultural machines, stationary engines, generator sets and miniature engines, many of which are in working order. On the occasional steaming days the exhibits are powered by an Adamson boiler made in Dukinfield, England.
After lunch the group visited Foxton Flax Museum where a stripper and a scrutcher were seen working. The native flax is actually a variety of lily with long narrow leaves of which the skeleton is a tough fibre. The mechanical stripping of flax began in the 1860s in machinery which beat the flax between a revolving metal drum and a fixed bar. The stripping machine in the museum came from a firm called Bonded Felts and was designed in 1930 to strip up to 16 tons of leaf per day. After sun drying and bleaching the stripped fibre is scrutched. The scrutcher was donated by a farmer near Blenheim, and polishes the coarse fibre. Most of the baled, processed fibre was exported, mainly to Australia, Britain and North America.
The final visit of the day was to Steam Incorporated at Paekakariki, near Wellington, which is a private organisation which restores ex-NZGR locomotives and rolling stock to working order for the operation of charter trains on the main line. There are four steam and two diesel locomotives. We were able to see repairs being made to a boiler and to explore several sets of carriages. Some of the party then took the local train from Johnsonville to Wellington while the others remained in the coach. We were joined by Rob Aspden, our local guide for Wellington and the South Island.
In the attractive city of Wellington, Tuesday began with a short visit to the Museum of New Zealand in which we concentrated on the geological displays relating to seismic activity and saw a representation of the technique of base isolation in which sandwiches of alternating layers of rubber and steel underpin the foundations of buildings in a manner reminiscent of shock absorbers and so reduce the effect of earth tremors upon the buildings. The country lies on the junction of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates and is subject to much seismic and occasional volcanic activity. Time did not allow exploration of the many other museum displays. A short walk from the museum led us to the 1926 Paisley-built by Fleming and Ferguson, self-powered floating crane Hikitia. Originally coal fired, the vessel now has two Steampac boilers which formerly burned heavy oil but now run on diesel which is more readily available. The motive power is a pair of two cylinder compound engines. The ship reached New Zealand after an eventful voyage of 82 days at a top speed of 7.5 knots. After its working life it was bought by two couples who saved it from scrap, and it is in working order although awaiting a survey at present.
We continued to the Kelburn Cable Car and museum. As the city centre is surrounded by steep hills which in the late nineteenth were sparsely populated the Upland Estate Company was formed in 1898 to develop land above Lambton Quay into a housing estate, and in the same year the Kelburn and Karori Tramway Company was formed to operate a new tram between Lambton Quay and Kelburn which connected with a horse carriage to Karori. The route of 785m passed over four viaducts and through three tunnels and ascended 119m at an average gradient of 1 in 5.1. The two cars were linked by a balance rope and the descending car gripped the haulage rope which was driven by a steam winding engine at the top. Operation began in 1902 and one of the original cars is preserved in the museum with some of the former haulage equipment. In the 1930s the power was changed from steam to electricity and in late 1978 the tramway closed for 13 months while the track and cars were replaced; the gripper system was abandoned in favour of a Swiss system.
The group walked down through the botanic gardens to lunch and then divided, some visiting the Wrights Hill Fortress and some the Transpower control room, pausing briefly on the way to see the lower Karori dam which was opened in 1874 and provided Wellington's first public water supply, replacing the natural springs. The dam is uncomfortably close to the city and the likely consequence of seismic activity led to decommissioning of the dam in the 1990s; it has been converted to a bird sanctuary which has been fenced above and below ground to keep out predatory animals. Transpower is the organisation which runs the national grid and has a control centre in Wellington which is in parallel with another in Hamilton, although normally Wellington is in control, and it buys electricity from various private suppliers operating in a market. The price quoted by suppliers can vary greatly depend on demand and availability, and we learned that recently a company had offered 1MW-hour for $5,000, which is roughly equivalent to £2.50 sterling for one KW-hour; fortunately, such prices are infrequent. New Zealand famously has a DC connection between the north and south islands through which over a year there is usually a net transfer of electricity from south to north, but in a cold winter the flow may be reversed if ice reduces the generation of hydroelectricity. The connection was out for maintenance while our group was in the country. The heart of the control centre is several arrays of computer screens and telephones which supply the controllers with the information necessary for their actions.
The following morning the group left Wellington for the South Island, some by air while others took the ferry to Picton and then the train to Christchurch; the route of the railway lies between the coast and mountains for much of the way until it turns inland at the Christchurch coastal plain.
Thursday was loosely planned, allowing members to follow their own interests. Some explored the Christchurch tramway which is now a tourist attraction running trams which have been restored to their appearances as they would have been at specific dates in their operating lives. The city once had an extensive network which started with a line from the railway station to Cathedral Square in 1880, and building of lines continued until 1922. The closures began in 1930 ending with the last line in 1954. In 1960 a group formed the Tramway Historical Society and began to collect whatever equipment they could find with the intention of building a tramway at some time, and were viewed sympathetically by the Christchurch Transport Board. Eventually the City Council approved a circular route linking places of historical interest and the tramway opened in 1995. An extension to this is being built and when it is completed trams will run in a figure of eight.
Some took the bus to Lyttelton to view the harbour and then climbed the hill to the time ball which was last used in earnest in 1941. It is similar to the device at the Greenwich observatory and it was kindly raised and lowered for the group. The museum below showed an exceptionally clear film demonstrating how the longitude of a ship's position is calculated from a knowledge of the local time and time at a fixed point [usually the zero meridian]. Descending the hill again the group was entertained on board the steam tug Lytttelton which was built in 1907 by Ferguson Brothers of Glasgow. It is powered by two compound steam engines developing 1,000 horse power, which receive their steam from four boilers. The fire box doors of two of these are at waist height which makes stoking arduous. The tug retired in 1970 and was restored by a preservation society which allowed her to begin a new career in 1973 as a passenger vessel.
After ascending in the Christchuch Gondola to take lunch in the cafe, some of the group returned by bus to Ferrymead Heritage Park. The Park had its beginnings in the railway centenary of 1963 and the approaching end of steam locomotion, and took in the formation of the first steam railway in the country which was a branch between Christchuch and Lyttelton port. The Ferrymead Railway extends from the Park to the junction with the main line and has recently been electrified at 1500v dc, and is paralleled by the tramway. The FR has small steam locomotives and examples of earlier diesel locomotives and of all of the dc electric locomotives. The tramway is also electrified and runs trams from Ferrymead station to a loop around the streets of Moorhouse pioneer village. The village has an Edwardian flavour and includes cottages, a bakery, a printer's, a large post office which also houses an extensive collection of working telephone exchange equipment, and a horse trough with a working pump. There is also a large collection of fire engines which includes a rare example of an engine built in 1922 by AEC on a bus chassis. The aeroplane collection includes a DC3 and a Bristol B170 freighter with a Morris car in the hold. As might be imagined, the atmosphere is similar to that of the Black Country and Beamish museums in England.
No mishaps occurred on Friday the 13th in the morning of which the group travelled on the Tranzalpine train to Greymouth which climbs through mountain scenery to the summit at Arthur's Pass before descending. Rejoining the coach at Greymouth we stopped to look at the remains of Brunner mine which had been a coal mine with workings on both sides of the river valley, linked by a suspension bridge built in 1876 which collapsed almost immediately. The railway reached Brunner in 1876 and road and rail traffic shared the deck of the rebuilt bridge when it opened in 1877. The arrival of the railway stimulated coal production, coke production for making steel, and mining of the fireclay which lay beneath the coal seam which was used for brickmaking. 1892 saw the peak of coal production at 181,075 tonnes which represented about 100 wagon loads per day over the bridge. The mine closed in 1921, following which the railway wanted to remove the bridge, but after local protests ownership was taken over in 1923 by the borough council. It was refurbished in 1925-6, 1963-4, 1969 and 1977. The opening of the Stillwater bridge in 1978 allowed closure to vehicles of the Brunner bridge and it was completely closed in 1996 because of deterioration. A fund-raising project paid for the 2003-4 restoration which allowed the bridge to open again. On the way to Reefton we paused to see in the distance the Grey River gold dredge which had originally been built in 1938, and which had been dismantled in the 1980s and rebuilt in its present location where it had been operating more or less continuously since. A request to visit the dredge had unfortunately been declined.
Moving on to Reefton we walked beside the river in late afternoon sunshine to see the remains of the generating station for the first public electricity supply in the country which opened in 1888. Water led from the Inangahua River at a head of 27 feet drove the Rafel 70hp turbine which was coupled by a belt to a 20kW 30/110v Crompton DC dynamo, providing power for 500 lamps in the town. Various additions and alterations were made as the town grew, culminating in a Boving turbine and Thomson-Houston generator in 1935. The system closed in 1949, three years after Reefton was connected to the national grid. Broken housings and some pipework remain with what appear to be the turbine rotor and generator, but the site is neglected in spite of its historical significance.
On Saturday the group visited the Coaltown Museum at Westport which features coal and gold mining displays including a brake drum from the Denniston incline [see below] and the triple expansion engine from the steam dredge S.S. Mawhera.
Other displays relate to shipping and wrecks, minerals, uranium exploration and domestic equipment. Our intrepid driver next took us to the Denniston incline where he manoeuvred our full-size coach around a long series of hairpin bends through a vertical ascent of 1700 feet.
This proved too much for one of the engine belts but he was able to replace it in the car park at the top, having had the foresight to bring a spare and a tool box. The Mount Rochfort Plateau which is north of Westport and 2000 feet above sea level had coal seams of good quality which extended for 40 miles parallel to the coast.
Several mineral railways ran from the port up valleys to serve various mines and the Conn's Creek branch was opened in 1879. In order to lower the coal from Denniston, on the edge of the plateau, to the head of the line, two consecutive self-acting inclines were built with gradients varying from 1 in 1.3 to 1 in 7, making the descent in just over a horizontal mile. Between 1879 and 1967, 12.6 million tons were brought down, peaking at 350,000 tons in 1910. The original open coal wagons gave way to wagons with fixed internal hoppers and finally to hoppers which could be lifted from the wagon frames by cranes, which did less damage to the coal. The considerable remains at the top of the incline [tracks, decking, bins] allow one to imagine the place at work and there is a good poster display which describes the machinery and methods of working. Our driver got us down again in 20 minutes and following a lunch break in Westport we admired the geology and scenery of the west coast on our way to the next hotel at Hari Hari. Before dinner we enjoyed an illustrated lecture on the local climate [the west coast has an annual rainfall of over 6 yards], geology, fauna and flora from a local enthusiast who was interesting, informed and fluent in spite of or because of his 86 years.
On Sunday morning we briefly peered through the windows of the building which houses a replica of the biplane flown across the Tasman sea by Menzies, and then moved on to admire the Fox glacier in some of the rain before lunching at a salmon farm. We drove up to the Haast pass, beyond which the vegetation changes from rain forest to scrub in parallel with the change in rainfall [down to 10 inches] as the eastern side of the alps lies in a rain shadow. The long drive down to Wanaka afforded good views of lakes Wanaka and Hawea under clear skies and of mountain peaks behind us still sprinkled with snow.
On Monday morning we drove through Tarras, Lindis pass, Omarama and Twizel to Tekapo to visit its tiny Church of the Good Shepherd overlooking the lake, and then via Ohau A station to Ohau B. This station was not generating at the time as the canal which feeds it [and Ohau C] from Lake Benmore was being repaired. We saw the cavernous generator hall which appeared almost empty, the height being needed if a machine has to be raised for repair, and then descended to look at the top housing of a turbine which has many peripheral inlet valves which are operated by rotating an annulus to which they are coupled. There was an emergency diesel generator to power the building in the event of a major power failure, and as a last resort an accumulator room containing lead acid cells of capacity 400Ah manufactured in Germany. Even then, there is also a pressurised oil 'accumulator' which can close the turbine valves if there is no electrical supply at all. We were amused to see a wooden skeleton of a house which serves to broaden the education of the apprentices by allowing them to wire it as for domestic use. Outside we saw the four penstocks which are each of sufficient diameter to accommodate our coach. The station was completed in 1979 with a water head of 58m supplying four 66MW units, although these have been derated to 62MW. From the tail race the water travels along the river to the dammed surge reservoir of Lake Ruataniwha. We returned to Twizel [long 'i'] to relax in our commodious accommodation.
The final day of the tour of the south island began with viewing of the Waitaki dam and power station. Because of the width of the valley this is a long dam [1713 feet] with a height of 107 feet. The power house was large enough to accommodate five generators although only two 15MW units were installed when the station opened in 1934, the others being added in 1940, 1941 and 1949. In 1954 the powerhouse was enlarged to take two more, bringing the output to 105MW.
We drove next to Bortons to meet Bruce Comfort at a 'raceman's' cottage on the route of the former water supply to Oamaru. Until 1880 the town obtained its water from wells, springs and an unreliable stream which ran along the main street. It was decided after much debate to build a gravity-driven water race with an intake on the Waitaki river at 126 metres above sea level to feed water to a reservoir at 96m at Ardgowan, close to the town. The average gradient was 1 in 3964, the length was 47km, the width 2m and the depth 1m. There were five tunnels of combined length 2.7km and nineteen timber aqueducts of combined length 1.4km. A team of about seven racemen lived in small houses along the race and mended fences and kept the banks clear. The race was emptied every Wednesday for cleaning and repair. When the race was ready in 1880 it had cost the sum of £136,000 which was a drain on public funds for 20 years, but it served the town for 103 years. The high pressure of the water from the town reservoir was used to run private and public water engines and generators, and for a time Oamaru had more electric lights than London. Since closure of the race all of the land which it crosses has reverted to private ownership but some parts are visible from the roads and footpaths, and we were able to examine an aqueduct close up [of which the wooden trough had been replaced with steel in the 1920's] and saw one or two more from a distance. The Bortons raceman's cottage has been restored.
On reaching Oamaru we went to the opera house, itself one of many attractive buildings, where we were shown a large collection of the original drawings for the race which had been done in red and black ink on linen. Apart from those whose land is crossed by the race it is largely unknown even locally, so it is to be hoped that some of the features can be preserved. Bruce was an enormously enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide and we hope that his great efforts on behalf of this remarkable piece of Victorian engineering will be fruitful. After Oamaru, the journey to Dunedin completed the tour of the south island.
As on previous visits to the antipodes our group benefitted greatly from the enthusiasm and knowledge of our local guides, and also from the knowledge and indulgence of our kindly coach drivers who were willing and able to manoeuvre their vehicles into the most unlikely places.