Permanent Closure

The Waitakere Tramline Society regrets to announce that it has been advised by Watercare Services that the Waitakere Tramline has been permanently closed to any passenger train operations as from Monday 24 November 2014.

We are currently looking into alternative solutions.

For further information on the closure please refer to the website of Watercare Services Ltd:

Join in the discussion:

And, if you like, there's a petition to try and keep these services running:

Rainforest Express to remain closed
Watercare has announced the Rainforest Express will remain out of service indefinitely. The decision will also mean an end to the passenger service previously operated by the Waitakere Tramline Society.
Public use of the Upper Nihotupu and neighbouring Waitakere tramlines has been suspended since May 2013, when a major landslide caused significant damage to the Upper Nihotupu tramline.
Watercare Chief Executive Raveen Jaduram said he was sad to see the end of what had become a West Auckland icon during the 15 years Watercare had operated it as a sightseeing excursion for visitors from far and near.
He said the Board had taken a long time to assess the various options available to the company, but in the end the decision was a straightforward one.
“As a provider of water and wastewater services, public health and safety sits at the core of what we do as a business. The Board considers it is impossible to reopen these lines for general use in a way that meets our statutory requirements and our responsibilities regarding the welfare of the public,” Mr Jaduram said.
Mr Jaduram said an independent geotechnical report had identified 20 at risk sites across both tramlines, nine of which posed a significant risk to public safety. The report put the cost of reducing risk to an acceptable level for public use at these nine sites at more than $11 million – and noted that even then, the residual risk could be “significant”.
Mr Jaduram said that did not take into account the risk posed at other sites along both routes, which would be very difficult to identify and almost impossible to mitigate.
“It is important to remember that the rock fall that first closed the tracks happened in an area that had previously been regarded as low risk,” said Mr Jaduram.
Mr Jaduram said similar events in the area were not uncommon: a rock fall across the Waitakere line on Anniversary Day this year damaged the Waitakere Raw Watermain, while another just prior to Christmas 2013 led to the temporary closure of Exhibition Drive to enable the removal of unstable overhanging rocks.
Mr Jaduram said Watercare had to balance its wish to let the public enjoy the recreational and other benefits many of its operational areas possess against public health and safety requirements, environmental and operational considerations, and Watercare’s responsibilities as landowner.
“In this case, the public health and safety considerations are overwhelming.”
Mr Jaduram said Watercare would continue to use the lines to transport maintenance staff and equipment as and when required. He said staff use was infrequent, allowing for more elaborate safety precautions to be taken than could be implemented with a regular passenger service, and the lines provided effective access for headworks maintenance.

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About Us

The Waitakere Tramline Society Inc.

We are a small group of enthusiasts from all walks of life, dedicated to operation on the Waitakere Line, and most members have rail-based interests. The society formed in 1976 and has run passenger services since . The WTS is 100% run and organised by volunteers and all proceeds go toward operational costs, upgrades and maintenance.

Passenger trips are by appointment and run every Sunday year-round. Booking Information

The Train

The locomotive was built in 1976 and was rebuilt in 1985, and again in 2000 using a 16hp Kubota diesel and variable hydraulic drive.

Most of the carriages were built in 1978, and were rebuilt in the 90s to increase their riding and seating qualities.

All work on the tram is carried out by Society Members. We are also responsible for the maintenance of the tramline itself and of Picnic Flats.


By the early 1900s it was obvious that the volcanic springs in the Domain and at Western Springs would be inadequate to supply water to the growing city.

In a search for a suitable place for a dam, the Auckland City Council chose a site on the Waitakere Stream because of its high rainfall, and its height above sea level (which enables gravity feed back to Auckland).

A 2ft 6in gauge (762mm) tramway was built to the dam site from Swanson Station on the N.Z.R. North Line. All the materials for the dam and the cast-iron pipe sections were horse-drawn along this tramline.

The entire project took five years to complete, including the tramline which opened in 1907, followed by the dam which opened in 1910. Prior to this, a wooden dam was constructed above the site of the concrete dam.

The lower portion of the line from Swanson up past the Filter Station was lifted around 1927. Christian Road more or less follows the old formation.

The upper portion, about 2.4km, has been retained for pipeline maintenance and about twenty years ago was narrowed to the present gauge of 2ft. (610mm)

The Line Today

The Tramline begins from the end of the short private road above the Filter Station. It immediately enters George's Tunnel, to cut under the saddle carrying the Scenic Drive. At the far end of the 700m long tunnel is an interesting glowworm display. The line then crosses three bridges as it winds its way through a bush setting to Picnic Flats. (There used to be a caretaker's cottage here, where the dam construction camp was.)

The track continues through the bush to a short tunnel, then rounds a curve with a magnificent view of the 107m high Waitakere Falls - spectacular if the dam is overflowing but dry otherwise. The line passes under a wooden chute that carries Kelly's Stream over the train before a climb up to the end of the line.

Did You Know?

  • The Waitakere Filter Station gets its power from a turbine in the pipeline
  • There are 3 tramlines in the Waitakere Ranges:
    • Waitakere Tramline - 2.5km
    • Nihotupu Tramline - 6.5km (the Rain Forest Express runs here)
    • Huia Tramline - 400m long and is not open to the public
  • Water from the Waitakere dam is gravity fed to Auckland
  • During construction, rock was quarried from above the western end of George's tunnel. This aggregate was then mixed with concrete and sand then poured to form the dam.
  • The original tramline basically followed what is now Christian Road down to Swanson Station

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