Visit the remnants of Kerikeri hydro station - the first power generation in Kerikeri and part of a well maintained track that runs from the historic Kerikeri Basin through to the stunning Rainbow Falls.
On 11 July 1930 the Alderton Utility Company began to produce power from the Kerikeri hydro-electric station to 17 customers. You can see the remnants of the water race running along the Kerikeri River Track.
Power generation helped sell land
George Alderton was a land developer of the area. Some of his customers were British civil servants that were keen to settle in Kerikeri.
However, they were used to living with at least three servants and the prospect of having no help in a strange land did not impress many of their wives.
“My mother on hearing that servants were virtually un-procurable said quite emphatically that without servants electricity was essential and she would not consider coming unless she was promised it”.
(R Brenner, son of Alderton Utility Co chairman).
Therefore George Alderton began to set up a new company to meet the expectations of settlers' wives so that he could sell land.
Construction of the hydro station
Lloyd Mandeno was employed to investigate the potential of a hydro station on the Kerikeri River. He reported that it should supply some 300 horsepower, but because of low seasonal flood the water should be diverted from the Puketotara River.
At the end of 1929, the Alderton Utility Co began constructing a dam and intake weir as well as an open water race 1400 m long for water diverted from the two rivers. It was a huge undertaking for the Yugoslav gum diggers and in 1930 the powerhouse was officially turned on. The race runs all the way up to Rainbow Falls Scenic Reserve.
The remnants of Kerikeri hydro-electric station are well worth visiting. It was the first power generation in Kerikeri and is part of a well maintained track that runs from the historic Kerikeri Basin through to the stunning Rainbow Falls.
The surviving machinery of the powerhouse has been restored and placed in its original installations. DOC recently also upgraded the track.
Kerikeri hydro-electric station is located on the Kerikeri River Scenic Reserve. You can access the Kerikeri River Track from the Kerikeri Basin Recreation Reserve (off Landing Rd, accessed via the Heritage Bypass and Waipapa Rd) and from the Rainbow Falls, Rainbow Falls Rd.
Robinson, J. 1993. An outline history and archaeological report on Kerikeri’s first hydro-electric generating station site P05/516. Department of Conservation, Northland Conservancy.
Bay of Islands EPB. Date unknown. The will to power. Held in Department of Conservation Bay of Islands.