Rimutaka Incline activity cards

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2 Rimutaka Incline activity cards To the supervisor As you lead your group on an exploration of the Rimutaka Incline, please ensure that the group stays together, treats the environment respectfully and takes the opportunity to absorb as much information as possible whilst enjoying this walk. These activity cards will help students to focus on the particular themes that link to pre-visit and post-visit studies at school. The map on the reverse of this card identifies suitable sites to use each card. TAKE ONLY INFORMATION LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS REMOVE ONLY RUBBISH

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4 1. From Wellington to Wairarapa Before the Rimutaka Incline railway track was built people travelled from Wellington to Wairarapa by walking around the coast or over the track where the highway is now. What route would you have chosen around the coast or over the hill? Explain why to The journey someone in your group. was slow, as the trains travelled up the incline at a speed of 6 miles (just under 10 km) per hour you could probably walk faster. In fact, sometimes people did jump off the train and run or walk along beside it for awhile. People wanted easier access to the fertile plains of the Wairarapa but the incline was steep for a railway. No other railway in New Zealand was this steep. A unique little engine was found that could be used on a steep slope because of its special braking system. The huge task of building the Rimutaka Incline was completed in The introduction of the fell engines opened the way to Wairarapa for the people of Wellington and the Hutt Valley. Imagine you lived in Wellington or the Hutt Valley in the late 1800s. In your group, or in pairs, share at least 3 reasons why you might you have wanted to travel to the Wairarapa.

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6 2. The Fell engine Fell engines operated in only two other places in the world. The ones that operated on the Rimutaka Incline were the longest serving. The Fell engines needed a community of workers to keep them running. Workers and their families lived in the railway community at Cross Creek. The workers included: Drivers Guards Stokers Gangers Engineers For each of the workers above, think about the tools, equipment, material they would need to live here and to carry out their work. In your group discuss: Where would that material have come from? How would it be transported to Cross Creek? What resources would they have used from this environment? Imagine you lived in an isolated community like Cross Creek today. List the things you would need and where you might get them from? Children at Cross Creek had lots of fun in the bush. Look out for places that would be good to make slides or rope swings, go hunting or walking, swim, or go fishing.

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8 3. Cross Creek then and now The Fell engines travelled forwards up the incline and came down backwards. Compare the photo on the card (taken in 1955) with what you see now. DOC staff and Conservation Corps groups have helped to clear gorse and broom and expose many of the ruins from the days of the railway. Investigate the ruins of the locomotive depot: The engine shed (a large concrete slab remains) The engine inspection pit The tower The turntable - the engines were very well balanced and could be turned around by one person. The centre rail important for grip to assist braking on the incline. This centre rail was unique to the Fell engines Down the track to the eastern side of the railway line you can find: Tennis court The school site on the other side of the stream 5 minutes walk through the bush. Sketch one of the ruins listed above. Some people are passionate about preserving these ruins and a group has formed to reconstruct the railway form Upper Hutt to Featherston. In your group discuss: Why people might value these ruins / this area. List some advantages/disadvantages, for the environment, of a heritage railway running through this area. On your trip today watch out for the technology used to build structures for the railway. You might see: tunnels, bridges, embankments and a vertical culvert that channels water in and down a shaft.

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10 4. Summit then and now Possums munch through a container load of native bush in New Zealand every night. This was where the engines had to be changed from one end of the train to the other before the descent to Cross Creek or Kaitoke. Look at the photos of the summit on this card and compare the vegetation cover with what is here now. The bush around the summit area was removed by land-clearing and fires. Fires were often started by sparks from the steam engines. In your group discuss: What happens to the land and the wildlife when the bush cover is removed? When left alone the forest will eventually grow again (regenerate) but this area had high numbers of goats and possums. As a goat or a possum living in this area, what would you feed on and what effect would this have on a regenerating forest? As a park manager how might you deal with problems caused by animal pests? Summit, c Photo: A.P. Godber. NZ Railway & Locomotive Society archives.

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12 5. Siberia Valley then and now A large rock and earth embankment once filled the gully so that trains could cross. The native bush in the valley is flourishing now that goat and possum control programmes are in place. Scientists can check the health of the forest by monitoring the range of plants (from new seedlings to mature trees) and the number of birds. Stop and listen carefully. Count the number of birds you hear while you count slowly to 30. Repeat this activity in another area of the forest. Look for signs of interdependence in the forest. How do birds depend on other living things and how do birds support the forest? If there were a lot of browsing animals (possums, goats) in the forest eating leaves, berries and young seedlings, how would this affect the birds in the valley? A fatal accident occurred here on 11 September A passenger/goods train was partly across the embankment when a gust of wind blew some of the wagons off the embankment three children were killed and 13 other passengers were seriously injured. What safety factors do you need to consider in this area? List at least five risk management strategies that your group is following. Can you find any evidence of safety precautions that have been taken to protect people from the winds in this exposed area? An artist s impression of the fatal rail accident at Siberia on 11 Spetember Sketches of the accident were published in newspapers at the time, but the artists had not seen the accident site so they used their imagination to illustrate the accident. Photo: NZ Railway & Locomotive Society archives.

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14 6. Who uses Rimutaka Forest Park today? You are a visitor to this environment. Other animal and plant species live here all the time. Many people use the Rimutaka Forest Park for recreation. If you were a tramper, mountain biker, walker, dog owner, camper (choose one): What are the advantages to you of the old railway track? What impact would you have on this environment? List some ways you could lessen your impact. How could you show respect for other users of the park? Consider your impact on this area today are you leaving only footprints? Department of Conservation workers, trappers, and Rimutaka Forest Park Trustees are all working to ensure that this forest park is preserved for future generations to enjoy. They would be interested in hearing your ideas about the area. Consider improvements that could be made that would make the trip more worthwhile for school groups visiting the area. When you get back to school write to the Poneke Area Office, Department of Conservation and share your ideas with them.

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