The new 2013/14 summer season is the perfect opportunity to introduce you to the team behind Forgotten World Adventures.
Van Watson is FWA’s Operations Manager and he describes his job as “making sure everything is in place to allow the guides to give FWA’s adventurers an experience beyond their expectations.” Ian Kellas assists him in this role and has ingenuity beyond compare. If there is a way, these two will make it happen but the duo had a few challenges in front of them last week dealing with the aftermath of winter.
Monday 30th September
Van headed out from Tokirima on a rail cart while Ian Kellas shuttled the road vehicle and trailer around to Heao. Both rode on the cart from there as they knew they would have to return at the first ‘sure to be there’ slip. It was the Rockfall at Tunnel 10. Returning to Heao, they trailered the cart down to Tangarakau where Ian K departed to pick up two new 4 seater rail carts from Eltham. Van meanwhile continued the line check by driving the cart up the rail, east from Tangarakau, and was stopped after 500m by a medium slip.
He reckoned he could get the cart past it by battling along the ballast on the rubber wheels. After walking up the line about 30 metres to check that it was all clear, he scraped past the offending rubble on the cart. He should have walked 35 meters because at that point there was a really big slip of wet clay and native bush squelched across the line.
So then it was a walk in the rain to Tunnel 10 to assess a couple of smaller slips.
Back just past Tangarakau a great slab had fallen from the cliff on to the line, so with no rail alternative Van had to wind up the rail wheels and take a sojourn along the back country road to join the rail at Tahora. Blocked by further slips at Tunnels 3 and 4 there was a slow road journey over the Tahora Saddle before he rejoined the rail with a clear run through to Whangamomona to get picked up by Ian.
Tuesday 1st October
Van and Ian leapfrogged the cart along from Tokirima back through Ohura to Okahukura. They found only one slip but lots of fallen trees.
Wednesday 2nd October
Van met with Luke (on the HiRail digger) and Geoff (on the HiRail truck) and it was off to the East and West portal of Tunnel 24 to ream out the drainage to clear the standing water away from the ballast; a job repeated for all the tunnels through to Ohura where they ran right out of the day.
Thursday 3rd October
The team cleared drains and culverts through to Tokirima then continued clearing slips through to the big sloppy slip near Tangarakau. A great night was had at the Whangamomona Hotel.
Friday 4th October
Finally got the gear to Tangarakau and the digger got a stick through an important hose so it was back to Taumarunui for some spares.
Saturday 5th October
Cleared the slips through to Whangamomona and chainsawed a 20m fallen tree into manageable pieces.
Sunday 6th October
The big papa slide at Tunnel 3 was cleared before the machines returned by rail to Tokirima for their Monday Transporter.
It’s a very dynamic piece of country and it would be challenging to be on the line in the depths of winter but the entire line is now checked, repaired, cleared and open to enjoy. Unless it rains – really hard.