- The hilly country specifically the Spooners Range made further construction westward difficult.
- There was difficulty in selecting a route to take the railway through the hills.
- The first route chosen was partly constructed and then abandoned because of this indecision. The work was carried out between 1883 and 1885.
- When the work was to be resumed, the government didn’t have any money, so it decided to contract the work out.
- A company, the Midland Railway Co, had to be formed to take the contract for the railway that was to run from Belgrove, on the Nelson line, and Springfield, on what became known as the Midland line, through to Greymouth.
- The MRC contract was signed in 1888.
- By this stage it had been decided to change the route, so the earlier work done of some 4 km of formation was abandoned.
- It took another two years (1890) from the signing of the MRC contract before tenders were invited to carry out the work west of Belgrove including digging the summit tunnel (approximately 900 metres long at an elevation of 306 metres. Trains had to ascend 172 metres from Belgrove making for a steep climb).
- Three years were needed to finish the tunnel and the formation works up from Belgrove but by now (1893) the MRC had run out of money.
- At the end of the 10 year contract period (1895) the company defaulted on the incomplete work resulting in the Government seizing its assets.
- It was not until December 1896 that the line to the western portal of the tunnel was eventually completed.
- Another two years were needed (until November 1898) to complete the construction to Motupiko. NZR officially took over this section in March 1899.
- The section to Tadmor, 9 km west of Tapawera, was formally opened in 1906. Tapawera was reached some time before this, but I don’t have a date, as NZR chose to wait until Tadmor was reached before formally opening the section from Motupiko. Trains were probably running into Tapawera by 1902-3 but not under the NZR.
Tapawera. The road layout was different when the railway was operating, with the deviation at the level crossing, and a different approach onto the east side of the Motueka River bridge.
Tapawera has a couple of local monuments to the railway seen here on either side of the former main road where it was on a curved alignment to give a right angle crossing of the slanted railway line, which crossed over at extreme right of this picture. The local interest in the railway history resulted in the formation of the Grand Tapawera Railroad Co in the mid 1980s which proposed to rebuild a section of the former railway around Tapawera as a heritage line. They were also associated with public tours of the Spooner Tunnel which at that time was generally closed to public access. In 1991 the GTRR split between Tapawera and Nelson interests with the bulk of the operation reforming as the Nelson Railway Society based at Founders Park. The Tapawera community outlook remains with the replica loading bank and shelter seen above right built in the 1980s, and the Kiwi station building seen to the left which was relocated in 2004. The actual Tapawera station site is on the other side of the present main highway, seen by looking in the opposite direction from this view.
South (east in railway terms) of Tapawera the highway swung out towards the riverbed for a short distance then came back alongside the railway.
Mararewa is the next station east of Tapawera and was just a flag station with a small shelter shed. There were never any siding tracks or other buildings there.
Aerial view of Mararewa in 1946, in which the small bridge, cattle stops and the shelter shed can be seen. The level crossing of the highway was just in front of the cemetery.
There was another crossing of the highway a bit south of Marerewa.
These three photos show small bridges or culverts alongside the road between Motupiko and the Norriss Gully corner.
The entrance to Norriss Gully where the highway crossed over the railway yet again and both headed inland from the Motueka River valley.
Norris Gully corner seen in aerial in 1946. The highway of today has been realigned closer to where the railway ran, but there is still likely to be a bridge site hidden away in the bush at the side of the highway to be investigated in future.