Date: 08 March 2019
In recent days thieves have removed seven railway sleepers from the eastern end of the Hapuawhenua Viaduct, leaving an exposed hole with an estimated four metre fall to the bottom.
To the unsuspecting walker or cyclist across the viaduct, the exposed hole would not be visible in low light or fog, nor would you be aware of this hazard when cycling at great speeds, DOC is extremely fortunate that this was brought to their attention before anyone was seriously hurt.
The theft of these railway sleepers at this popular local walking and cycling track is both alarming and disappointing say’s Senior Ranger Toby O’Hara.
Last week, Toby O'Hara along with DOC Rangers Brian Mason and Neil Wood made the necessary repairs to the viaduct and DOC are currently considering future barriers to prevent this from happening again.
Apart from the serious risk it presents to visitors, a lot of community volunteer hours and money has been invested to restore and maintain this historical viaduct as an historic asset enjoyed by locals and visitors to the district.
Originally built in 1908, the viaduct was restored and reopened to the public in February 2009 and now forms part of the Ohakune Old Coach Road, walking and cycle trail. The trail has an estimated 14,000 visitors per year, so attracts a lot of tourism to the Tongariro district.
Anyone with any information about the theft of these railway sleepers, is asked to contact the Ohakune Police on +64 6 385 0100.
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