The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (November 1, 1928)
The Rangitikei Valley
The Rangitikei Valley.
Waiouru (“River of the West”), 242 miles from Auckland, and 185 from Wellington, a page 40 bleak, wind-swept tussock region in the midst of a wide country devoted to sheep grazing on large runs, is the highest point on the Main Trunk line, 2,660ft. As we descend by a winding route towards the great upper valley of the Rangitikei the landscape becomes more varied, with forest and hill and stream, and settlement is less scattered. A bright little river, the Hautapu, keeps close company with the rails for some miles as it cascades down to join the Rangitikei. Of historic interest there is little in this part of the country, but the story of pioneering endeavour is plainly written on the face of the land. Taihape (266 miles), which we presently reach, was a few years ago a typical bush township, walled in by a vast dark curtain of heavy timber; often flooded rivers surged through deep ravines. Now it is a brisk modern town of big business and considerable wealth, and the forest around it has given place to well-grassed farms. The deeply cut valley of the Upper Rangitikei is now seen on our left; the sharply carved white cliffs are in high contrast to the wooded and grassed country. There is a fine sweeping bend of precipice, a great natural amphi-theatre, with the rapidwhitened river coursing along the ravine 200ft below the line. The Rangitikei has done some mighty rock-carving in its day. The green terrace below our line on which the Town of Mangaweka stands—it was called “Three Log Whare” in the days of its rough infancy—indicates the level of the strong river at one period of its history. This much-broken country through which we wind on our way to the plains is a great wool and mutton-producing land; dairy farming, too, brings the monthly cheque to many a family. Big engineering works are features in this region of sudden ravines and steep ridges. The principal one is the Makohine Viaduct, a bridge of steel latticework towers set on concrete piers; it is 750ft in length and 240ft above the stream in the gorge.
The towns of Hunterville, Marton (the junction with other railway lines), and Feilding, each marking a distinct stage in provincial progress, break the journey through a very kindly, wealthy, pleasant countryside. Many a comfortable country house rests among its gardens and orchards and shelter trees, in the midst of the best of pasture land.