The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is getting a new engine that will become the strongest and largest locomotive in the fleet.
The engine has been donated by Fonterra. It was built in 1967 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan as number 1468. It has a D343t CAT engine and torque converter.
From 1967 until 1988 it was in service with New Zealand Railways. Then between 2012 and 2013 it was overhauled at the Hutt Valley Workshops and from 2013 it was the prime mover at Fonterra's Kauri plant where it was named "the Kauri Shunter". BOIVR will name it "Kauri".
On June 30 the locomotive will be put on a truck at Kauri and transported to Kawakawa on July 1.
Railway trust chairwoman Sue Hamnett will formally accept the loco from Tony Williams, L8DC team lead for Northland-Kauri. Also present will be Nick Kershaw, operational improvement manager, UCNI and Frits Schouten, BOIVR's diesel locomotive supervisor.
Paihia mid-winter swim
If a mid-winter swim is on the cards, the best one can hope for is warm water and a fine day. That's exactly what happened in Paihia last weekend for the annual mid-winter swim.
Although it had been raining at 9am, the sun shone an hour later and remained shining throughout the swim and the water temperature at 15C was the warmest since the swim started 11 years ago.
Organiser Karen Makin said that's still very cold to a swimmer not acclimatised to winter swimming and is widely recognised as the temperature at which cold water shock can start to occur in the body. That didn't deter the 53 swimmers who lined up and dived in, and Makin said some were very competitive.
"The start was a bit of a battle for some initially trying to get past the waves since the swell was dumping close to the shore but once over or under these, it was glassy conditions."
The winner was Richard Pearson who took a different line to everyone else, slipped around the inside of the pole and bounded across the finish line in 3 minutes 43 seconds. Second was Andy Young of Opua in 3 minutes 55 and on his toes was Molly Board, also of Opua, in 4 minutes 2 seconds.
The prize for best headwear went to Di Smith and Ted Kirkbride for their pair of blue tits.
Road seal and a bridge completed
For years locals along Pungarere Rd, north of Waipapa, lobbied council to seal the final 3.5km stretch of the road, which is a key tourist link to Puketī Forest.
Now the $1.58 million project, partly funded by the Tourism Infrastructure Fund has finally been done.
One campaigner, Megan McCracken, said the sealing makes a "huge difference" to the community.
"There is less water tank contamination, increased ventilation of houses as windows can be opened without dust billowing forth, creating better quality breathing air as well.
"We feel much safer when large vehicles are on the road, as visibility is so much clearer without dust from oncoming traffic," she says.
And in Waipapa township a new bridge linking the Waipapa business park with the new roundabout is close to completion.
The Whiriwhiritoa Stream Bridge will join Klinac and Maritime Lanes and is part of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency's $24.5 million Waipapa Corridor improvement project.
Work started on the bridge in March, with completion expected at the end of June. Waka Kotahi NZTA has been working closely with local iwi Ngāti Rēhia as kaitiaki of the area to protect the Whiriwhiritoa Stream and its aquatic life.
The Waipapa Corridor improvements project, which began in late 2019, is designed to improve safety at the intersection of SH10 and Waipapa Rd, where a new roundabout is in place, reduce congestion, and slow down traffic through Waipapa town centre.
Being a tidy Kiwi
Michael Beckett thinks rubbish on the side of the road and down bush gullys is "painfully unsightly", so he does something about it.
He collects it, compacts it, recycles it (especially the bottles he calls Steingrenades because they are so prolific) and the rest he puts in bags for the Far North District Council transfer station to deal with.
It's for the greater good. To him, home isn't just where he sleeps.
"To have people throw their garbage out the window angers me into doing something about it, it's been thrown into everyone else's place who live around here, their turangawaewae, so I just can't let it be left there."
He doesn't just pick up rubbish from the side of the road, he picks up rubbish in the bush too and says it is "copious".
"Some of the bottles seem decades old and covered by a thin veneer or bush detritus so when I take off down a gully after a possum and clamber back up I will step on a bare bottle or can through thin soil."
He sees the rubbish as disturbing kiwi breeding and feeding grounds, saying kiwi beaks "must hate buried bottles more than me".
His hunting ground is between 10km and 20km on both sides of the back road to Russell, but not the entrances to other people's houses because he says it's their personal responsibility to clear it, which doesn't always happen.
A few months ago he contacted Manuela Gmuer-Hornell, of the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board, to ask the board put up "don't litter" signs. Far North District Council suggested the signs be created by a community group and Russell School came to the party. FNDC supplied the materials and erected the signs.
There is now a sign on the back road after Lanes Rd and one in Orongo Bay. All because one man felt the need to protect the environment.
Hauling in the big one
One of the biggest winter events in the Far North is celebrating its 51st year. The Yellowtail Fishing Tournament takes place in and around Russell and the Bay.
There are four days of fishing, with 107 anglers taking part on 30 boats, private and chartered. There are 21 junior teams and six women's teams and all are hoping to haul in the big one.
The tournament wasn't held last year because of Covid-19. For 40 years six or seven teams have come from Australia but they didn't make it last year because of Covid. A couple of weeks away from arriving this year, they had to cancel because of the Victorian Covid outbreak and subsequent lockdown.
However, a New Zealand-based team of Australians justified the tournament calling itself international.
There was a team from Russell School. Ava-Dot Maddren, John Clendon, Diego Bomati and Stevi Parlane-Peters joined the crew onboard St Moritz for four days of fishing.
Russell school children also manned the breakfast barbeque so they had early starts to cook for the various crews before they went out fishing.
In all there were 111 yellowtail kingfish weighed, nine snapper weighed, nine yellowtail kingfish tagged and released, 24 yellowtail kingfish measured and released.
• Email Sandy Myhre at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any news you'd like to see in Bay News.