For the second part of the research series on the Rimutaka Incline Section we are covering the area known as Tunnel Gully, along with the Kaitoke station precinct and the section now used as public access to the Remutaka Incline Rail Trail. We have at this time been marking out the route through to Cross Creek. When we get to that station we will have to draw a track layout of the Cross Creek yard before pushing out to Pigeon Bush and eventually Featherston.
Tunnel Gully is mainly known as a recreational area, and has many trails unrelated to the Rimutaka Incline Section, but it does incorporate all of the formation from the south side of Mangaroa Tunnel to the south end of Kaitoke Station. Apart from the tunnel itself, there is relatively little in the way of historical features of the route apart from the occasional cutting. However several of these have been bypassed by the rail trail, which follows a logging track that occasionally deviates from the historic corridor. Part of the corridor now forms the public access road into the Tunnel Gully carpark.
A typical view of the relatively featureless landscape through Tunnel Gully Reserve when the line was open in 1943. The cutting around the horseshoe curve to the right has been partly bypassed for the Tunnel Gully rail trail.
Tunnel Gully apart from the road off Plateau Road from Te Marua, is also accessible by cyclists or walkers from two points at either end of the reserve. From the south there is a track up from Maymorn near the Remutaka Tunnel entrance that climbs up to reach the south end of Mangaroa Tunnel. The northern entrance can be reached by another track from Kaitoke Loop Road. The Kaitoke station site formerly incorporated a number of former railway station buildings; in the intervening 65 years, all of these have faded away and there is practically no trace to be found in the site today (off Station Drive) relating to its former history. Kaitoke had a separate freight yard, the access road into which is still partly visible.
Kaitoke station site as seen in 1943, 1963 and 2016. The 1963 view is the clearest in relation to the NZR buildings, whilst 2016 view shows the complete change in the modern use of the site, with no NZR buildings now on site.
Goods siding just north of the main station yard. Note the overbridge to the right. Originally carrying the main road, it was kept in use for private property access for the entire time that the railway was in operation, but is shown to have been removed sometime between 1957 and 1963.
The last part of this section forms part of Incline Road, the public access into the Remutaka Rail Trail entrance at Kaitoke. The road itself yields little evidence of its former role, although the long sweeping curves through numerous cuttings have considerable historical interest in themselves.