NZRM Progress Report 2023-04-12

Work is continuing to complete Volume 9 of NZ Rail Maps covering the Midland Line and its branches. A batch of aerial photos has been received from Linz covering mainly some of the major stations of the area, Greymouth, Hokitika, Rewanui, Ross and Stillwater. These are now being worked into the maps whilst the detailing of the main line section is being completed, which entails checking the alignment of the paths showing different tracks, checking all kilometre posts are in the correct places, and checking the alignments and labels of all bridges and tunnels. This week word was received from Kiwirail confirming license terms of the Creative Commons license for the data layers sourced from them. These layers are available for public download from the website and many of them do not have the license terms displayed as they should.

Work has also continued to download the base and historic aerial photography from Linz / Retrolens to enable every station on the Midland Line to be added to the maps wherever possible. As may have been previously noted, the West Coast region is particularly poorly covered by the Retrolens website and hundreds of additional historical aerial photos to date have been or are being sourced directly from the Crown Aerial Film Archive. A second major batch totalling more than 120 photos is about to be requested which will cover all the branch lines off the Midland Line on the West Coast, i.e. Hokitika/Ross, Rapahoe and Rewanui as there is a great deal of history herein worth documenting. This batch will also include some of the mining installations along the Grey River between Stillwater and Greymouth, as well as in the Seven Mile Valley north of Rewanui, and also the old Omoto viaduct that was abandoned decades ago, as the piers stood until the 1980s.

Whilst the NZRM work programme for this year has emphasised getting all 12 volumes produced in some form so they can be made available for public download from the Volumes site, and this imperative is certainly driving the completion of Volume 9, the Midland Line maps are getting much more intensive treatment than some other volumes will get this year due to the impending 100th anniversary of the Otira Tunnel, the date of which falls in early August. In particular a lot of work has been done lately with an author who is releasing a new historical book about Otira and has previously produced a number of similar works about the Midland Line and some of its townships. This work is beneficial to both parties and certainly our knowledge of Otira will be considerably enhanced by the map production. At this stage the completion of the maps will probably take about two to six weeks, so the volume should be ready by the end of May.

Linz also sent some aerial photos relating to Volume 2 around Palmerston North, and whilst no work is being done in this area at present, these are relevant and useful for filling in some small details of the history of railways in the Palmerston North area and will be incorporated into the Volume 2 maps when they are finally produced later in the year.