New Zealand Rail Maps Project Development Report – February 2022

Good evening and welcome to the project development report for February 2022. This month the project focus has shifted to Volumes 10 and 11, with Volume 11 getting the most attention this month. This has been done in order to complete research on branch railways around the Canterbury Region in order to inform a proposed field trip to examine remnants of these lines. So far the Mount Somers / Springburn and Methven Branches have been examined, the former now nearing completion and the latter not far behind. Last year the Fairlie Branch was a major focus and whether the maps already completed there should be further extended is going to be one of the considerations. However, the opportunity to research these lines using Archives NZ records has been limited to just the first two lines at present, and there is no intention at this time of undertaking any research on the Fairlie Branch. Once these three lines have been examined, further work for Volume 11 in Canterbury will skip the Waimate Branch (even although it is within the region, it is expected to be excluded from any field trips in the foreseeable future) and shift to the remaining Volume 11 branches further north, specifically Little River and Southbridge. Again these have not been researched, but there is a possibility of this being done however there are no actual plans as such at present and there is probably not enough actual time in the tight schedule over the next couple of months to achieve this. However, the part of the Southbridge Line which became the Hornby Branch i.e. Hornby to Lincoln has been researched already.

The second part is Volume 10. In Canterbury, and in fact in all of Volume 10, there have been only three branches, these being the Waiau Branch, Oxford Branch and Eyreton Branch. All three have been researched to some extent, although this has been limited in the case of the Waiau Branch to the bridges on the line because of having available an existing book to address the remainder of the information about the line. The extent of research on the two other lines is somewhat unclear at present and possibly limited to the section of the Oxford Branch which closed in 1930. There are no plans to further extend what research has been undertaken to date.

So by the end of March the completion of this particular phase of the project should be all but assured. Another section of interest is found at Parnassus, which is essentially at the coastal end of the Leader Road from Waiau, and which can be visited as part of a round trip taking in the Waiau Branch. There are several small deviations between Christchurch and Parnassus that can also be explored as part of a northern field trip.

Rest assured the Project is highly focused on getting Volume 6 completed as soon as it can be reasonably achieved in 2022 and achieving as much as possible in the other objectives listed in the introductory post at the start of this year. The aim in general is to produce a good volume of content for public consumption via both webmaps and the Volumes site, and fresh consideration is also being given to printed options, but no news to announce on that front for the time being.