First published on NZ Rail Maps
The Tokarahi Branch, which branched from the Ngapara Branch at Windsor, approximately 16 km inland from Oamaru, is one of those branches we know very little about historically. The information in the fourth edition of the Quail Atlas is inaccurate, omitting a certain amount of detail about the line, which is most probably due to the fact that it was closed in 1930. Like many small rural branch lines, it was intended originally to have been longer, but the extension to Livingstone further west was never built. (There is confusion in some circles about whether Livingstone was, in fact, an earlier name for Tokarahi, the actual terminus, or was, as we believe, a separate location as maps suggest).
The Tokarahi Branch was the first line we looked at when the project started to be drawn in a GIS, a number of years ago, because it was obvious at the time that the information on the branch, at that time based on the Quail 3rd edition, was likely to be incomplete as this edition omitted the intermediate stations, Island Cliff and Tapui. Since then, checking with the fourth edition, these stations are shown. However, both editions omit the branch’s second tunnel at Tapui, and general information that is normally included in Quail Atlases, such as length of tunnels, individual station mileages and altitudes etc is missing except for Tokarahi, the terminus. As we do not at present have access to any working timetables for the period of the line being open we are unable to verify the displayed information for Tokarahi.
Historical aerial photos of the Tokarahi Branch only start from 1955 and then only at a scale of around 1:20,000, which makes it difficult to reproduce any significant detail. Thus, the amount of information that can be included in a map drawn of this branch will be limited to the route and station locations. This is also true of a number of other small branch lines in the South Island of NZ which are away from major highways. We got lucky with the Fairlie Branch because it runs right alongside State Highway 8 all the way, but the Mount Somers Branch was much harder to do because a lot of it is off the beaten track.