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Gisborne - Motuhora Railway

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This page has photographs of the 78 km Gisborne to Motuhora Railway, built between 1900 and 1917, then removed in 1959-1960.

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Brief details and history of the Gisborne to Motuhora Railway are on a separate page and a more detailed article is on Wikipedia. Motuhora was renamed Moutohora in 1952.

Historical photographs mainly come from the Auckland Weekly News (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries) and Gisborne Photo News.

Wa Locomotive

Restored WA165
Class of engine used on the Motuhora line from 1910.
Source - Gisborne City Vintage Railway

Port of Gisborne
0 km Gisborne opened 26 Jun 1902
Palmerston North - Gisborne Line (1942)
Park Racecourse
6.0 km Makaraka opened 26 Jun 1902
Ngatapa Branch
Kings Road (MB)
17.3 km Ormond opened 26 Jun 1902
20.8 km Kaitaratahi opened 10 Nov 1902
Tunnel No 1 - 185 m
29.0 km Te Karaka opened 13 Apr 1905
Tunnel No 2 - 258 m
32.2 km Puha opened 3 Jun 1907
37.5 km Waikohu opened 28 May 1908
Mahaki, ex Waihuka Tunnel Siding
Tunnel No 3 - 45 m
Otoko viaduct; 113 m long
50.4 km Otoko opened 6 Apr 1912
Rakauroa viaduct
60.3 km Rakauroa opened 2 Nov 1914
66.0 km Summit; 566m above sea level
Tunnel No 4 - 90 m
70.8 km Matawai opened 2 Nov 1914
78.5 km Moutohora (terminus) opened 26 Nov 1917
76 cm gauge private tramway
Moutohora quarry

Gisborne to Motuhora Railway showing stations and when stations were opened.


Gisborne Station

Gisborne Railway Station, 1901
Auckland Weekly News 14 November 1901

Gisborne Station

Gisborne Railway Station, 1903
Train ready to leave for Kaiteratahi
Gisborne Photo News

Last Motuhora train from Gisborne Station

Last Motuhora train from Gisborne Railway Station, 1959
Gisborne Photo News

Te Karaka

Te Karaka 1909

Te Karaka Station in 1909
Auckland Weekly News, 08 April 1909

Railway Engine

Railway at Te Karaka on the Gisborne to Motuhora line.
From New Zealand Railways Magazine 1928.


Puha Station

Puha Station, with waggon loads of wool for railing to Gisborne, 1909
From Auckland Weekly News, 2 December 1909


Waikohu Station and Bridge

Waikohu Railway Station and combined road and railway bridge over the Waikohu River, 1909.
Auckland Weekly News, September 1909

Number 3 Tunnel

Mahaki Bridge and Tunnel 3

Number 3 Tunnel and adjacent bridge, 1910.
The Gisborne-Matawai road is above the tunnel.
Auckland Weekly News, March 1910.

Otoko Viaduct

Otoko Viaduct

Otoko Railway Viaduct over the Waikohu River and the Gisborne-Matawai Road.
Auckland Weekly News, June 1912

Otoko Viaduct

Otoko Railway Viaduct over the Waikohu River and the Gisborne-Matawai Road.
Note the poor condition of the road!
Auckland Weekly News, 16 May 1912

Otoko Viaduct 1959

Train on Otoko Viaduct, 1959.
Photo from Gisborne Photo News


Otoko, March 1959

Last train to Motuhora in March 1959, pulling into Otoko Station and leaving the Viaduct.
Photo from Tairawhiti Museum

Otoko, July 1959

Train to Motuhora pulling into Otoko Station in 1959, with truck waiting at the level crossing.
Photo from New Zealand 1950s steam in colour

Otoko, July 1959

Train to Motuhora on the line north of Otoko in 1959.
Photo taken from previous rail overbridge north of Otoko.
Photo from New Zealand 1950s steam in colour

Rakauroa Viaduct

Rakauroa Viaduct 1955

Train on Rakauroa Viaduct 1955.
Photo from Gisborne Photo News


Matawai Station photo

Matawai railway yard in 1913.
Newly built cottages beside yard for railway worker.
Auckland Weekly News, 2 October 1913

Matawai Station photo

WA Engine at Matawai Station
Photo from Tairawhiti Museum

Matawai Station photo

Train leaving Matawai Station for Gisborne in 1954.
Photo from Gisborne Photo News

Matawai Station photo

Railway overbridge on Motu Road between Matawai Post Office and Railway Station.
Photo from Gisborne Photo News

Motuhora Station 1917

Motuhora Station Motuhora

Motuhora Station and railway yard
Auckland Weekly News, 6 December 1917.

Deconstruction 1959-1960

Matawai Station 1959

Matawai Station after railway line removed in 1959
The building was later removed leaving just the platform, and subsequently the Motu Road was built through the station yard.
Photo Gisborne Photo News

Rakauroa Viaduct being dismantled

A crane dismantling the Rakauroa Viaduct in 1959
Photo Gisborne Photo News

Otoko Viaduct being dismantled

Workmen salvage steel plate from Otoko Viaduct in 1960
Photo Gisborne Photo News, 25 February 1960

Otoko after railway dismantled

Otoko after removal of the railway
Shows site of former level crossing and viaduct remains beyond the house far right.
Photo Gisborne Photo News, 1960

Remnants of the Railway


Bridge originally over Motu River at Motuhora.
The bridge was purchased to move to a Matawai farm, but never got moved. The river has moved since.

Rakauroa Viaduct 2015

Remains of Rakauroa Viaduct in 2015

Otoko Viaduct 2015

Remains of Otoko Viaduct in 2015
The old Matawai-Gisborne road going up to Otoko is on the far side of the Viaduct.

Tunnel No 3 in 2015

Tunnel No 3 in 2015.
Now the start of the Otoko Walkway, which follows 6.9 km of the old railway route to Otoko.

Waikohu Station in 2015

Site of Waikohu Station.
The Goods Shed now used as a farm shed.