On Sunday 19th January we visited ‘Driving Creek Railway’ on the outskirts of Coromandel Town. It was built by Barry Brickell (potter, writer, conservationist) and is an amazing structure.
The hour long trip through replanted native kauri forest was fascinating. We went through tunnels and over viaducts as we spiralled up to its mountain-top terminus.
Here a wooden structure with a viewing platform called the ‘Eyefull Tower’ (only in NZ…) had panoramic views of the island-studded Hauraki Gulf with the forested valley and mountains behind.
We were surprised at the top to meet Barry himself! He’s in his late 70s now but had still walked up the 500 or so steps to chat to the group. Apart from the engineering feat of the narrow gauge railway Barry has also replanted the forest with kauri and other native trees. The land was devastated when he arrived in the 1970s; all the ancient kauri trees had been taken when the land had first been stripped by the lumberjacks in the mid 19th century and later deforested for farms.