Sunday, 15 August 2010

Waiau Branch : Part 4 - Waikari

Waikari is the first station up the branch. The route from Waipara traverses the Weka Pass, climbing for 12 km on gradients as steep as 1 in 47 with curves as sharp as 7 1/2 chains radius, and then dropping for another 2.5 km down into Waikari on grades of 1 in 80 to 1 in 100.  Because of these severe grades, in steam days, trains were banked over the "hill" in either direction, there being a locomotive stabled at the Waikari engine depot for this purpose. Trains from Waipara were banked right through to Waikari; for trains heading in the opposite direction, during the operation of the tablet system, the bank-engine key was used to help lift the train up to the summit after which the bank locomotive returned to Waikari. This system became unnecessary on dieselisation because two locomotives could be coupled together and operated by one crew. The bank-engine key from Waikari is now held in the collection of the Ferrymead Railway.

Waikari also had a flour mill and lime works, served by private sidings; the former building is now a private residence. The station building was sold by tender in 1983 to a Christchurch resident and was removed early that year. In 1983 the Weka Pass Railway purchased the entire track from Waipara to the Hurunui River and the goods shed was removed in 1987. All remaining track in the yard was removed mid-1991. Today the site remains as open land, possibly for public recreation, although several years ago a medical centre was developed on some of the former housing land. A couple of houses are on the old site, but it is not known if they are the original railway houses. The station platform remains, along with the old turntable pit, and the former flour mill and limeworks buildings. 


The station plan as published in the NZ Model Railway Journal some years ago.


The gradient diagram for the section of track covered by the photographs which will be posted in subsequent posts in this series.