Report - - Paekakariki Railway Depot, Paekakariki - March 2016 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Paekakariki Railway Depot, Paekakariki - March 2016


Is this the future?
Regular User

Paekakariki Railway Station opened in 1886, when the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company’s line from Longburn to Wellington opened. Despite the settlement’s small size, the decision to construct a station at this site was strategic, as more powerful engines were required to haul carriages and goods wagons over the steep hills between Paekakariki and Wellington. Lighter and more nimble engines were generally used to tackle easier going sections of straight track.

By 1908, the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) took over operations at the line; however, Paekakariki’s significance as an important depot remained unchanged. Steam engines were used up until 1940, when the company electrified the line between Paekakariki and Wellington. Subsequently, the depot was altered and it became the station where stream powered locomotives were changed for electric powered machines. Diesel locomotives were later used from the early 1950s onwards. As WW2 continued, a large goods shed was constructed at the site by US marines, and the site became an important transfer point for goods; trains could reach key sea and airports from this area.

The beginning of the 1960s marked a new era in New Zealand, when steam locomotives were becoming redundant. The depot at Paekakariki was no longer needed as a changeover site so it was subsequently closed, and the diesel engines which replaced steam were based out of Wellington instead. After the depot’s closure, the main engine shed was demolished, alongside a number of other original buildings. However, a group of steam enthusiasts who adopted the name ‘Steam Incorporated’ managed to acquire what was left of the remaining buildings: other engine sheds, two signal boxes, the station and platform, amenities buildings and a turntable. After acquiring the site a number of new engine sheds were constructed, to replace those that were demolished. The site, which is now fully owned by Steam Incorporated endeavours to restore New Zealand’s old trains and carriages, although a number of them have remained outside for many years and, for the most part, they have been left untouched and unchanged since arriving at the depot. Steam Incorporated intend to purchase as many of the old locomotives as possible and, rather ambitiously, aim to have them fully operational on the mainline tracks. Presently, steam engines are only permitted on heritage railways or as static monuments near the mainline.

Our Version of Events

With time for a little trip across New Zealand, three of us set off in a northern-ish sort of direction. Our first stop was somewhat unintentional as we stumbled across some old looking locomotives and carriages. Agreeing amongst ourselves that a good stretch of the legs was due, we decided to stop and have a quick look. Unfortunately, the site is very active, as most of it is either a museum or belongs to the ongoing restoration project. Although we were far enough away from the train station itself, there were a lot of people milling around the engine sheds, so we crept around the decaying carriages as quietly as possible to avoid being seen.

Sadly, a lot of what has been left to decay outside is locked or securely boarded, presumably to keep out the local ‘bogans’, so we were only able to access a few bits here and there. On the whole though, given that the railway in New Zealand is significantly underdeveloped compared to European countries, it was a great opportunity to discover a little more about this side of New Zealand’s history and be able to view it first-hand. After spending a quick twenty minutes at the old depot, we’d managed to see all there was to see, so we jumped back in the car and cracked on in our effort to head north.

Explored with Nillskill and Bane.

1: Paekakariki Railway Depot


2: Inside one of the Carriages


3: NZR Notices


4: No Throughfare


5: Second Class Seating


6: More Passenger Information


7: Emergency Stop Lever


8: Warning Sign


9: Second Class Door


10: Carriages and Tankers


11: Inside Another Similar Passenger Carriage


12: Old Goods Wagon


13: Inside a Goods Wagon


14: Goods Wagon External


15: Hostess Door


16: Old Engines


17: Last Train Before Reaching Restoration Workers