Whilst I am waiting for two more prints of Alexandra to turn up to confirm the FH siding I will just post some stuff about Retrolens. This is a great new initiative from Linz where they are scanning the aerial photos (contact prints) from their surveys at high resolution and releasing them free online.
I decided just for interest to see what I could find of the Waiau Branch in North Canterbury and the results have been pretty good, although incomplete at the desirable resolution. It is just the way these things work unfortunately: you can't always get one of an area that is at a useful scale and there are a number of station locations where the only images available during the time the line was open were at 1:87,500 which is way too low a scale to be able to pick out many features on the ground.
So what you see is really the best I could find but there are none at a good resolution for Waikari, Hawarden or Waiau.
It is a pity that this project has come too late to be used in the maps as such. I won't have the time to trace any yard layouts into the maps from this new imagery but I will make an effort to find as many stations aerial photos as I have time for and add them to the NZ Rail Maps Flickr site.
These photos of the Waiau Branch are in no particular order.
Hurunui River Bridge between Medbury and Balmoral in 1960.
Medbury railway station in 1968. Note the bridge to the left, the stockyards, and a fenced off property in the edge of the trees (this would seem unlikely to be a railway property).
Waipara 1961. The engine depot can be seen upper left.
Culverden 1963. The turntable, seen upper left, was later removed to install a high level loading bank.
Rotherham 1975, three years before the line closed.
Achray 1975. I believe it was closed about this time so it is interesting to see track and the shed still there as Pahau which closed about the same time had nothing visible in the photo of it.
Pahau River Bridge 1975.
Waiau 1979. Unfortunately apart from the fact it was taken the year after the line closed the resolution is a bit too low as well. But that is all that is currently available of that area.
The originals of all these photos with in most cases resolution good enough to pick out the individual tracks and points on the ground are now in an album on the NZ Rail Maps Flickr site.