North Auckland Line [0S]: Weekly Progress Report – Week 33, 2020

Since our last report we have advanced the base maps to Kaiwaka at about 140 km from Auckland, which is practically half the entire distance from Westfield to Otiria. This represents good progress under our current rate of resourcing for map production. At the time of our last post we had just completed maps up to Helensville so progress has been steady but perhaps not as spectacular as at other times during this current year. We remain focused on our key objectives of completing all 12 volumes of maps within a three year period from 2020 to 2022, but the two stage approach we have considered using is probably not going to be followed. We respect that there is a considerable demand for these maps to be produced and available to the community at large, but feel that producing at two levels over two different periods for each map, is probably not what we are going to be motivated to do, and that finishing each volume in one go is likely to be the key strategy employed over this period.

To that end, we are continuing to produce new historical mosaics in Volume 1 and in the recent period have been working on a set covering the Dargaville and Kaihu branches, and additional stations on the main line, including Te Hana, Kaipara Flats and Kaiwaka. Pre-production samples of these will continue to be published in Daily Diary entries on the group’s email list. We have not yet produced any significant quantity of final maps for the NAL rail corridor because issuing the sample maps meets the needs for publicity at developmental level and allows us to make corrections to the maps as the samples are created, prior to producing the final maps for official publication on our web site.

The next samples to appear on our email list will be Kaipara Flats and Kaiwaka. The next station after Kaiwaka will be Maungaturoto, for which mosaics have already been generated, probably a day after the former as it is only 10 km further up the line. After that, it will take another day or two to reach Waiotira at around 180 km and then we can hopefully spend a little time but not too much mapping the stations for which we have mosaics on the two branchlines west of Waiotira. Then back on the mainline, we head up to Oakleigh (the Marsden Point junction), Portland, Whangarei, Kamo and Kauri. Although Whangarei is a major metropolis in the north, its railway infrastructure is relatively confined into the city yard and the wharves and mapping these should not take too long.

As stated on the email list, we will add maps of Hikurangi, just north of Kauri, which had an industrial siding and remained open until quite recently, and Waro, where there were coal mines with sidings, to the maps. After that there will be nearly 50 km of route to cover without pause to Otiria. From there the completion of Volume 1 will be achieved after taking in the two branches, in the east to Opua and in the west to OKaihau. We have already mapped much of the historical features of these lines and are not planning to look into any more unless new sidings or major infrastructural facilities are located, which is unlikely to take place.

Taking all the above into consideration we are less confident about forecasting a completion date, whilst at the same time remaining committed to completing the volume. We estimate at this stage that by the end of August we should have reached Hikurangi after completing the rest of the main line corridor north of Kaiwaka including Whangarei and the two branch lines west of Waiotira. A reasonable guess is that it would take up to another two weeks to complete the rest of the main line and the two additional branches. It is then necessary to schedule additional time to produce the final maps for publication, so a completion date in September now looks more likely for Volume 1.