Mount Albert Ballast Line (2-12 Toroa Terrace)

Mount Albert History Walk

Mount Albert Ballast Line (2-12 Toroa Terrace)

Auckland, Auckland 0622, New Zealand

Created By: Auckland Council


This quiet cul-de-sac was once a busy railway terminus. From 1880, it was the end of the Mount Albert ballast line, linking the quarry on the top of the maunga with the main line. The scoria stone came down a separate incline (a set of rails at a 1-in-3 gradient) in wagons which descended the slope when full and pulled empty wagons up the hill with a counterweight pulley system. The full wagons were emptied into a gas-powered crusher (the smell of which was described as “putrid”) which fed chutes down into the wagons waiting on the branch line. These were then hauled to the goods yard at Mount Albert by locomotives. In 1908-18 alone, 324,000 cubic yards (nearly 250,000 cubic metres) of ballast was carried.

On 9 June 1911, however, a train carrying 63 tonnes of gravel and an insufficient quantity of Westinghouse brakes ran out of control on the slippery track and arrived at Mount Albert at some speed. The locomotive smashed into a row of empty wagons, destroying five of them. One section of rail was “bent into a perfectly symmetrical curve like the letter ‘O’”. Fortunately, none of the crew were injured.

As suburban Mount Albert grew, the locals became annoyed at the “mutilation” of the mountain. The quarry and branch line were closed in 1928-9.

Take the steep footpath between 2 and 3 Toroa Terrace to the summit of Owairaka Mount Albert. A sleeper from the railway line has been repurposed as a fencepost at the top of the path. Cross Summit Road and enter the small carpark inside the crater.

For a less strenuous route to the summit, return to Mount Albert Road and turn left. Turn left at Summit Drive and follow the road to the top of the mountain.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Mount Albert History Walk


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