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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 4 (August 24, 1926)

Opening Opunake Branch Railway

Opening Opunake Branch Railway

The above branch which has been about nine years in the building, and has cost approximately £400,000, was taken over by the Railway Department on 12th July. The line branches off from the main Wellington-New Plymouth track at Te Roti (about halfway between Hawera and Stratford). It runs almost due west to the coast at Opunake, which lies south-west of Mt. Egmont and is near the westmost point of the Peninsula.

The country traversed is well developed dairying land, and there is every prospect that the railways will come in for quite a quantity of the produce and supplies now carried by road. Ten stations have been provided, their names and distances from Te Roti being, Matapu (3 miles 3 chains), Duthie Road (4 miles 37 chains), Palmer Road (5 miles 47 chains), Kapuni (7 miles 23 chains), Mangawhero Road (10 miles 47 chains), Auroa Road (12 miles 33 chains), Pihama (16 miles 76 chains), Punehu (18 miles 38 chains), Waiteika (20 miles 42 chains), Opunake (22 miles 50 chains).

As there is a fine beach at Opunake it is quite likely that there will be a demand for excursion train facilities during the summer months to take trippers from various parts of the province down to the sea at this point.

The First Train.

Writing of the commencement of services by the Railway Department on the new line the Hawera “Star” has the following:—

Drawn by an engine of the “Ww” type, the train which left Hawera at 9.3 a.m. yesterday comprised one carriage, accommodating a modest total of three passengers, six trucks (loaded with 70 tons of manure and general goods) and a guard's van. Guard F. G. Bicknell had charge of the train, and the engine was driven by Driver L. Toy.

At the Te Roti junction, where, approximately eight miles from Hawera, the Opunake line branches from the main system, connection was made with the 6.50 a.m. train from New Plymouth. The guard was informed that 310 tons of material were awaiting transport, this amount having collected in the three days since the last Public Works train went through. Twenty-seven trucks were attached with the maximum load of 300 tons of manures, farm material and general goods, the “goods and passenger” swung west and climbed the gradient to Matapu. Here two trucks were dropped and the passenger list was supplemented by two partial journey travellers. Further portions of the train's burden were left at the Duthie Road and Palmer Road stations and the journey was continued to Kapuni, the largest depot between the terminals, where an interested gathering of spectators were awaiting the advent of the first train of the service. Leaving Kapuni with the goods load reduced to 19 trucks, but with the passenger list augmented by one, the train halted at the Mangawhero Road, Auroa Road and Pihama stations to deposit supplies and, continuing without stopping through Punehu and Waiteki, finally thundered across the Waiana viaduct into Opunake, where a group of towns-people scanned the remaining ten trucks and greeted the three remaining passengers, who stepped from the carriage.

Under normal conditions it is anticipated that the timetable will be adhered to, and the outward and the return journeys will be easily accomplished in the two hours allowed respectively, and that the thrice weekly service will afford greatly appreciated benefits to the district.”