We awoke to another beautiful sunny morning, so our intrepid group of enjoyed morning tea in the sunshine, plus a short drivers briefing of the drive ahead. Friendly NZMCA members arrived bearing gifts of garden produce for all campers to enjoy – there were carrots and feijoas, following on from the grapes of yesterday. Then off we went on our day’s travel, agreeing to meet at the Tangiwai Disaster Memorial for lunch. We passed a road marking truck, spurting out just enough white paint to renew the white line on the side of the road – the first time we had seen one of these in action.
It was all happening at the Memorial site when we arrived, where work was being done to tidy up the surrounding area. We all pulled up one behind the other and ate our lunch out in the sunshine.
Lunch at Tangiwai
There were new memorials (under wraps) which were due to be officially opened shortly, and we had a chat to this young man from Stone Creations NZ who had a lot to do with them. His Dad was only 15 when he was on the ill fated train in 1953, when a rupture in the wall of the crater lake on Mt Ruapehu sent a torrent of water down the Whangaehu River damaging the rail bridge. The bridge collapsed as the Wellington to Auckland Express crossed shortly after, sending 11 carriages into the raging waters below, with a loss of 151 lives.
The names of all who perished have now been added to the original memorial
We took a walk up the track to the lookout and passed a section of chassis from car number 3 on the train, which was ripped away and washed 80m down stream. This was recovered in 2014, and the second photo shows how the metal has been twisted with the force of the accident.
Recovered piece of chassis
View from the lookout
Looking at the peaceful Whangaehu River today it is hard to image a torrent of water so fierce that it could damage a rail bridge so severely and the carnage which happened when the train started it’s journey across. Tangiwai remains the worst rail accident to happen in New Zealand.
A family visiting the memorial arrived in their Cadillac Eldorado. Such a magnificent car, and not many of them here in this country, we were told. Our blokes were happy to admire it and talk cars to the proud owner.
Every man’s dream, a grunty American gas guzzler
It wasn’t too far from here for our stop for the night, the Ohakune Club, passing the Big Carrot on the way.
Welcome to Ohakune
We were soon on site at the club, five cans all arranged neatly down the side of the car park.
Five Leisurelines in a row at Ohakune
Bill went off on a 12km bike ride
And Sandra cooked up whitebait fritters for 4zees
The temperatures soon dropped, the skies darkened, and everyone went inside to start cooking their evening meals. It was a very interesting day.
Sunset at Ohakune