Ruapehu Rail Heritage National Park Village
Passengers boarding the stage coach at Waimarino (now National Park) travelling to Ohakune - 1906
The Ruapehu District's remoteness, combined with some resistance by Maori, made it one of the last areas in New Zealand to be settled.
The first major European influence came in the 1840s, with missionaries on the southern reaches of the Whanganui River
Its advantage as an access and trading route saw regular steamboat services commence in the late 1890s, firstly to Pipiriki then, eventually, to Taumarunui..
Although the main riverboat trade ceased in the 1920s due to improved roads and the railway, passenger services continued until 1939. Tourism and trade flourished
The construction of the Main Trunk Line between Auckland and Wellington was finally opened in November 1908 after 23 years of construction through some very rugged bush country in the Ruapehu District with deep ravines necessitating some remarkable engineering construction feats including several viaducts, tunnels and the famous Raurimu Spiral
The Main Trunk railway is New Zealand's most significant land route and one of its greatest engineering achievements.
While the last section of the line was being built rail passengers would stay the night in Ohakune and were carried to the northern rail head at Raurimu by stage coach.
A considerable network of bush tramways fed the Ohakune and National Park Railway Stations which then became centres for massive timber extraction from the native forests.
The main heritage features remaining today are the Raurimu Spiral that allows the track to climb 150 metres in nine kilometres on to the plateau at Waimarino (now National Park); Hapuawhenua, Taonui, and Makatote Viaducts; Taumarunui, National Park & Ohakune Stations; memorials of the Last Spike ceremony and the Tangiwai bridge disaster of 1952; the Ohakune signal box and finally The Old Coach road now being restored.
National Park Railway Station and Overlander train
Ohakune signal box
Hapuawhenua Viaduct February 2009 after restoration.