Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Base map: NZTopoOnline, extracted April 2004, Crown Copyright Reserved  

The Club decided to join up with Oxfam’s annual Water For Survival fundraising walk along the Nihotupu Tramline. In April each year - these have been going for well over ten years - Water For Survival runs an open day on the Nihotupu Tramline including the dam, reservoir and five or six of the ten tunnels on the bush railway. Funds raised from admission fees, sale of refreshments and torches, and a donation box at the finish go towards providing safe clean water supplies at villagers in poorer countries.

21 people came along on a grey day that turned to spitting rain. We met at The Bracken one hour earlier than usual at 12:30pm to allow us to be at the Arataki information centre on Scenic Drive well before the last shuttle bus at 2pm. We were able to be on the bus at 1:30pm that took us to the start of our walk on the Nihotupu Dam access road, which we accessed from Piha Rd along a new bush track. Once on the access road, out came our wallets.

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We crossed the Nihotupu Stream and came to the start of the Nihotupu Reservoir where we could see the Nihotupu Falls. The water level was several metres down from being full at the beginning of February. We stopped at the dam itself, where a spiked fence had recently been placed around the valve controls in the centre to keep the vandals out.
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A short walk brought us to our refreshment stop at Seavers Camp picnic area. The Rainforest Express train was on display; there was a sausage sizzle and drinks for sale; and in another tent were displays about the history of Nihotupu Dam and Tramline, and the work of Oxfam in bringing supplies of clean fresh water to poorer villages.
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The Nihotupu Tramline was along a brief bush walk from Seavers Camp. For those who did not bring a torch, a $10 note could be exchanged for one at the first of our tunnels, Quinns Tunnel. Once through this long tunnel we crossed Quinns Viaduct, a wooden trestle viaduct over a deep bush-clad gorge, and straight into our longest tunnel, Tunnel 29 at over half a kilometre.
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There were three short tunnels then the long Hauler Tunnel which for some unknown reason was taboo - we had to walk around past the start of Incline Track instead. In previous years we were able to go through Hauler Tunnel, but this time we could only go through five tunnels on the tramline.
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A walk along a long stretch of tramline brought us to Greenwoods Corner where we left the tramline to go up to Scenic Drive, passing a box for any extra donations for Water For Survival, for our shuttle bus back to Arataki Visitor Centre - we were out by 4pm.

COSTS:  Travel from The Bracken $3; Water For Survival entry fee $5