Butt of a Joke

Māori history records that long before this 1.2 kilometre, late 1880s-era tunnel was built, the chief Tarau, heading southward, climbed the range through which the tunnel now passes, situated near the upper Ongarue Valley in the Waitomo region of New Zealand. His subjects dutifully followed their chief, in single file. Mirth must have spread down the line of travellers about Tarau exposing his backside (“poro”) as he bent to the task of scaling the steep hill. And so that place, and the tunnel which was later dug through it, operating for nearly a century until 1980, acquired a colourful name: Poro-A-Tarau — “the posterior of Tarau”. It was a place where a chief exposed his rear end, becoming literally the butt of a joke.

Congratulations to The Forsaken Explorer NZ, Urban Kiwiana and KEWM for tracking down Poro-A-Tarau last year, and special thanks to The Forsaken Explorer NZ who promptly and kindly directed me when I had lost my way. Links to their videos of the tunnel are below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQh4_nK0r7s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66KJ7nEdyeA&t=3s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96a8bm7oifI&t=34s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9lv1ucPRlQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS6uFvBpcgQ&t=540s

Hard Labour

Sentences with hard labour were common in the New Zealand criminal justice system through the 19th and into the 20th centuries. Convict working gangs were dispatched to build public works, often making bricks on-site from materials sourced near their worksites. They wore distinctive prison uniforms marked with arrows to decrease the likelihood of covert escapes. While the clay was still soft, inmates marked bricks with arrows as a form of self-portrait: a reminder of their presence and their contributions in spite of the ostracisation associated with their incarceration. Several inmate fingermarks are also visible in the bricks of this 19th century convict-built rail tunnel abandoned in 1900.

Raw

For music, just the fizzing of cicadas on a hot summer day, and our footsteps ringing out in the cool air inside this 1876-built tunnel which was closed in 1955 after a deviation in the rail line it served.

#12

This former rail tunnel has sat abandoned since 1900. It is now three-quarters buried by the earth, and half-flooded. Distinctive arrow imprints on the red and brown clay bricks indicate the presence of prison labourers in its construction. Prisoners serving terms with hard labour wore arrows on their uniforms to visually distinguish them from civilian workers, and they marked their handmade bricks with arrows, as a kind of self-portrait. Finding this tunnel was a team effort involving anecdotes from rail workers, hand-drawn maps of enthusiasts, and – finally – simply groping through thick vines in search of the source of faint sounds of trickling water. The entrances are completely obscured in dense overgrowth. The thrill of finding something so untouched for so long is indescribable.

Keith Butler

This incline was opened in 1889 in the South Island of New Zealand to transport coal by rail down from the mines it served. It operated for nearly a century until the closure of the mines. A caretaker, William Butler, stayed on when the settlement emptied out. On the 13th of September, 1988, a rainstorm caused a landslide, burying what remained of the settlement and killing Butler. His body and car were never found.

Inclinations

Since the late 1960’s these coal tubs on the Millerton Incline in the northwest of the South Island of New Zealand have sat unmoving on their tracks. The Millerton Incline was built in 1891 and the mine it serviced began production five years later. The tubs would transport coal to Granity, which boasted at the time the largest wooden coal loading bins in the country. For the past half century coal production has shifted to the nearby Stockton coalfield.

An Eye In The Earth

While exploring the small gold mining settlement of Waiuta, near Reefton in New Zealand, we found this little u-shaped tunnel network with two entrances nestled into the side of a bush-clad hill.

Abandoned South Island tunnel

After hearing a rumor about a mysterious train tunnel in the South Island of New Zealand myself and DerelictNZ went out to investigate.
Sadly our first attempt was a bit of a fail after spending a whole afternoon trying to find it but after some more research urbexcentral returned and this time success!

The tunnel was fully bored and constructed in the early 1940’s however it was given up on after some of the walls started breaching. The damage inside the tunnel is pretty substantial and it felt pretty unsafe to lurk through, from the crazy angles and curvature in the tunnel I suspect the kaikoura earthquake in 2016 played a part in the damage.

Abandoned South Island tunnel, New Zealand, Urbex Central NZ

Abandoned South Island Tunnel

Abandoned Tunnel South Island New Zealand

Abandoned collapsing tunnel

 

West Coast ghost town

Once a thriving railway township, Rewanui was abandoned in 1985 when the railway branch was closed. The town was taken care of and preserved by its caretaker until in 1988 where a huge landslide following a flood destroyed most of the buildings and bridges that remained, tragically killing the sole occupant of the town.

After quite a long walk and a lot of searching through bush we found many remnants of the past still exist throughout the valley including old coal carts and mines.

 

 

 

 

Gravity fed

Just beneath the top of one of Wellington city’s highest peaks there is a peculiar little tunnel, originally built to service a now defunct reservoir this tunnel is now bricked up part way along. Judging by the foot traffic in here it seems to be a popular detour from the nearby walking track.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for Urbex Central. Thanks for watching and stay tuned for 2014…

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Portal

This 253 meter long former railway tunnel- constructed in the 1870′s- came to the end of it’s working life in 1955 when a replacement tunnel was opened. Apart from a bit of water seeping in through the cracks, it still seems in pretty sound order after all these years.

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