Volume 7 – Nelson Section Rail Maps

This page encompasses the entire set of maps for the Nelson Section and all related lines in the area.

The Nelson Section was intended to connect Nelson with the Midland Line at Inangahua Junction. It was partially built by the Midland Railway Company as a part of a handful of privately constructed railway networks in New Zealand. However the early construction was carried out by the government of the day. Work first started at Nelson in 1873 and from there, a line was taken over the hill at Bishopdale on a very steep grade to Foxhill which opened in 1876. The next part to be completed was the line to the Port in 1880. But it took five years to advance the southern railhead 1.5 km to Belgrove after which there was a debate on where the route should go, and formation works were carried out south of Belgrove for an abandoned option. The result was that it took 19 years to get the line through the Spooners Range Tunnel to Motupiko. In 1906 the line opened to Tadmor, and from there it reached Kiwi in 1908, and the ultimate terminus Glenhope was opened in 1912. From there slow progress was made to Kawatiri which opened 1926. The line was extended from there to Gowanbridge in 1930 but that part was never officially handed over to NZR, as in 1931, all the line south of Glenhope was closed again. Formation works south of Gowanbridge were continued nearly to Murchison and surveys went part of the remaining distance into the Buller Gorge. The railway from Nelson to Glenhope was closed in June 1954 but was reopened four days later on the basis of meeting freight targets. As these were missed by a large margin it was finally closed in 1955, and lifted soon after.

There were basically several political failures that led to the failure of the Nelson Section and subsequent closure. These were the decision to take the railway south instead of east to Picton, and the decision by the Labour government of the 1930s/1940s not to prioritise completion of the line meant it was never taken seriously ever again.

In 1957 the Labour government started work on a proposal for a railway line from Nelson to Blenheim. However the small amount completed, namely a railway yard site in the city, was killed off by the 1960 National government and work never resumed.

The other lines that are mentioned are heritage operations. Grand Tapawere Railroad Co was formed in the 1980s proposing rebuilding of part of the railway in the area. This was shut down when the group reformed itself as the Nelson Railway Society and moved in at Founders Park, where it is still based today.

Nelson Section Reference Map v2 FINAL (PDF)

Nelson Section Rail Maps (Google Photos album)