The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]
Communication by land in the Auckland Provincial District can hardly be described as good. Notwithstanding the operations of a hundred road boards, and the hundreds of thousands of pounds spent by the Government alone on roads and bridges for the Auckland province, it is to-day most imperfectly roaded. In the north of Auckland this is especially the case. From the scattered nature of the settlements, and from the difficulty in many parts of obtaining good road metal, the roads of North Auckland are still most primitive—ankle deep with dust in summer, and axle deep with mud in winter. It has been said that on some of the main roads a stout horse cannot draw an empty buggy downhill during the winter months; and instances are well authenticated of travellers wishing to get from Kamo to Kawakawa, having been obliged to return by train to Whangarei, and thence by steamer to Auckland, that they might catch another steamer to the Bay of Islands, whence they could reach Kawakawa by rail. Yet in summer it is a fairly pleasant two or three hours' drive from Kamo to Kawakawa. It is, therefore, not surprising that even the patient people of those districts murmur occasionally at the tardiness of railway construction in New Zealand. Happily, the winters are short in the “roadless north,” though they are very wet while they last.
Railway communication is steadily, though very slowly, advancing in various parts of the province. The main trunk line is already opened to the boundary of Taranaki, while northwards it extends to the margin of Kaipara Harbour, by which and the Wairoa River, it is connected with the Dargaville-Kaihu section. This connection, however, must be regarded in the light of a branch, for the trunk line is proposed and explored as far as Opua, in the Bay of Islands. Two sections of this line are already opened; and that from Opua, three miles south of Whangarei to Waiotu, nineteen miles north of that popular centre, is in daily use, while on the eight mile section at the northern extremity—Kawakawa to Opua—trains are run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as traffic requires. The first gap, which, if filled, would bring Whangarei into unbroken connection with the city of Auckland, is over fifty miles as the crow flies, and, as the country is decidedly broken, the actual mileage of the line will be much greater. It must be satisfactory to the inhabitants of the intervening country that “the Government fully recognises the importance of this railway,” and that every year sees a small sum placed on the Estimates for its extension.
Railway communication between Auckland and the Thames was completed about the end of 1898, by a branch of the main trunk line from Frankton Junction, via Ruakura, Morrinsville, Te Aroha and Paeroa, the total distance from the city being 148 miles, as against fifty miles by water. With the last-mentioned page 24 branch, and in that way with the main trunk line, Cambridge is connected by a line twelve miles long from Ruakura Junction, and Rotorua is similarly connected by a line sixty-eight miles long from Morrinsville.
A Government line from Rotorua to Gisborne is talked of; a private line from Rotorua to Tauranga has been “proposed”; and a Government line to connect Napier with the main trunk line at Te Awamutu, by way of Lake Taupo, has been “explored.” But millions must be spent to accomplish all this, and even then railway accommodation in the province of Auckland will not be excessive in view of the immense territory comprised within its borders.
The water communication of the province, on the other hand, is most extensive and valuable, for the coast line of about twelve hundred miles is indented with numerous bays, harbours, and tidal rivers, which admit of coastal trade to an extent not approached by any other part of the Colony. The fact that the Northern Steamship Company alone has from twenty-five to thirty steamers engaged almost exclusively in the Auckland coastal trade, gives some indication of the amount of the province's water traffic. Many of these steamers are exceedingly fine vessels, the best being the sixteen-knot paddle steamer “Whakatere,” which cost £20,000. When compared with Auckland's coastal cutter traffic of thirty years ago, the present condition shows a truly wonderful rate of expansion. As the delightful climate and the many other attractions of the North Island become better known to the world, the coastal service will probably exceed its present rate of growth.