A giant reawakens
Those following progress of the restoration of the historic Hapuawhenua Viaduct in Ohakune over the last few months will have noticed some major steps forward over summer. The great weather has helped Department of Conservation staff and volunteers from Tongariro Natural History Society (TNHS) move closer and closer to completing installation of the new boardwalk. And now, the time when the viaduct will be “alive with a new kind of traffic”, is almost here.
‘Saturday 14th February will see the many years of fundraising, planning and restoration come to fruition, with the reopening of the viaduct to visitors’, says TNHS Director Sarah Gibb. ‘To celebrate this huge accomplishment, we’ve planned an official opening at 11.30, with a steam train ride out to the viaduct and a chance to walk across it, throughout the day. The official opening train will run at 11, but another train will run out at three’.
‘We wanted locals to have an affordable opportunity to experience a steam train ride through the park. We’re really hoping to get lots of families out there on the train to enjoy this amazing journey and the viaduct and at only $20 and adult and $5 for children 12 and under, we think it’s going to be a great trip out. Unfortunately, numbers are limited on the train, but walkers and cyclists can take an easy walk or ride out to the viaduct along the Ohakune Old Coach Road to meet us for the opening or any time during the day. They’ll be able to see the fantastic restored first section of the Ohakune Old Coach Road opened up by Ohakune 2000 and the new track out to the restored viaduct.’
DOC staff and volunteers from TNHS will be on site during the day to talk about the project and the history of the viaduct. ‘We hope lots of people will take this opportunity to come see this important piece of rail heritage that’s just out in their backyard in Tongariro National Park.'