For those in the dark, Runanga was the junction point for the line to Rewanui and its famous incline. Once a busy place, its now a a mere shadow of its former hey-days. The branch to Rewanui is long gone, though the right of way is still very visible, and I think there is even a walking trail up the line to the old Rewanui yard.
Back in 2005, the old Runanga station was home to an eclectic group of blokes and a loosly run model railway club, which built a modular layout of the rewanui incline.
Good to see the old station is being looked after.....
Ngahere was a busy yard back in the black and white days too, and the junction point for the Blackball branch, which also had a center rail fell type incline similar to the Rewanui and Rimutaka inclines. Sadly very little remains to see of the infrastructure that was once here, and there is no visual evidence of the branch to Blackball any more thanks to constant changing landscapes and industrial workings in the area.
Ngahere was also famous for its sawmill and bush tramways in the hills to the east, and once home to an amazing fleet of geared steam engines.
I drifted once again back to Stillwater where I rang 0800 FOAMER ( many thanks Ev :-) ) to see if there were any more trains in the area..... short answer - no!
So, I decided I would take some time to explore the nearby Brunnerhistorical mining site.
Brunner was once a very busy coal mine, and coal was loaded into wagons and pushed across a mighty suspension bridge that spanned across the Grey River to the railway yard on the other side for shipping to Greymouth by train.
It was also the site of the worst mining disaster in New Zealand where 65 men and boys died down the mine!
( see http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ourstuff/BrunnerDisaster.htm for more about this )
There is also a very sobering plaque on the wall from a disaster that hit the region very hard recently.....
In the final installment, we head across the Southern Alps and have a run-in with some keas!!