Otago Central Railway [29A]: Chatto Creek

Chatto Creek was an interesting station because of the ballast pit at the eastern end, as otherwise there was little to distinguish it from a horde of other small country stations with similar (basic) facilities.

Geographically, Chatto Creek was at the foot of the Tiger Hill which got the line through some hills down the grade from Omakau. The engine depot was always at Omakau and no facilities of any sort were provided at Chatto Creek except for a water tank. The engine shed siding up near the ballast pit was only used during the construction era and there is no record of any turntable being associated with it. I didn’t find any detail in D&E about how trains got over the grade from Chatto Creek to Omakau, for example whether double heading from Cromwell or Clyde up to Omakau was used, or whether trains were split at Chatto Creek to be taken to Omakau in two pieces. There were not a lot of sidings at Chatto Creek to store train wagons for this purpose.


 Details of the ballast pit which had two lives. It was used initially during the construction era and then closed. In the 1920s it was revived and used for a number of years and the plan for it is dated 1938. The exact closure date is unknown but D&E suggests approximately 1960 while noting it had been unused for many years. In the first era the points came off the mainline east of the bridge no.76, but when NZR reopened the pit they put a separate bridge no. 76a in for the siding, the beams of which are still in place today. This enabled the mainline points to be moved up into the station yard

 Some rail houses and railway structures, one of the houses is still in place today.

The size of the station building is not very clear on the plan. The yard didn’t appear to have a goods shed or stockyards for all of its life. I have not seen a photo of Chatto Creek that contained a goods shed.

The single remaining railway house at Chatto Creek.
Bottom of Tiger Hill. The line takes a curve through more than 100 degrees which takes it up and out to the right in front of the hills as it climbs towards Omakau.

 Coming out of the curve at the bottom of Tiger Hill, the station is at left middle of this view in the distance.

 Coming into Chatto Creek along the straight at the eastern end.

 The ballast pit. Unlike most of the ballast sidings we have a detailed drawing in the chainage charts showing the depressed area that is clearly where the pit was.

 Looking eastward from the bridge (76) as the line sidles alongside a rise in the ground, ballast pit to the right.

 Similar view from a little further westward, showing the bridge 76.

 Looking the other way towards the main yard and again showing the bridge.

The beams on the left are where the water tank stood at the eastern end of the yard.

 On the left is the loading bank, on the right used to be the station platform and building.

 Looking back the other way with the house in the distance, the ballast pit behind the trees beyond the house.

 The road crossing at the western end of the yard.

 There was a siding out to the right accessing a stockpile of rails and sleepers. This might have been just during the construction era.

 As the line approaches the second crossing of the Manuherikia River the hills close in on the route.

Coming up to Manuherikia No.2 Bridge (Bridge 77) and showing the rocky foothills, the line passes alongside these foothills in the river valley before climbing out of the valley into the Galloway flats.

Otago Witness photo of the bridge under construction in 1905.

 Bridge 77

A train crossing the bridge the year before the line closed, this is the Photographers Special train of 16-9-89. Something I had not noticed before is a gangers shed visible at the far end of the bridge. This accounts for the cutting being wider at that end of the bridge, but the hut is not there today.

 However a bit further up the line there is a hut on the side of the trail. Nearing the 123 mile peg.

Bridge 78. This originally crossed a sludge channel but has now been taken over as a farm access. Sludge channels date from the times of gold sluicing which was extensive in Central Otago 100 years ago and has left a legacy of altered landscapes. The function of a sludge channel was to take the flow of waste water and tailings from the residue of sluicing.

The line is now crossing the Galloway Flats area approaching Galloway Station.