The Driving Creek Railway of today is the second railway Barry has built, the first being located just up the road at 90 Driving Creek Road, Coromandel. It was 250 metres long with a 10½-inch (266mm) track gauge being smaller than the present day railway at 380 Driving Creek Road. The railway infrastructure was removed to the present day railway, all that remains of the original railway on the property today is a 20-metre tunnel.
The present day Driving Creek Railway climbs 2.7km from the Base Station at 55 metres above sea level to EyeFull Tower at 167 metres above sea level, a total climb of 115 metres. With an average gradient of 1-in-24.1 (1 vertical metre for every 24.1 metre of length) the Driving Creek Railway is New Zealand’s steepest railway.
The gradient varies considerably, with the steepest section being 1-in-14.
The track gauge is 15 inches (381mm), a gauge chosen to allow for tight track curves and to limit the amount of earthworks required on site.
Beyond the main line there are a number of branch lines into the forest, used to access clay and to collect and store firewood.
The railway as a tourism business started in 1990 with the granting of a railway licence. However there had been a number of earlier excursions with donation paying passengers.
The track at that time went as far as the Double-Deck viaduct to the Hoki Mai Station terminus.
The railway is still a work in process, with future plans to extend out from the mainline to the Museum, Wildlife Sanctuary and Sculpture Park, Copeland’s Stream and to a new future workshop and new kiln wood storage shed.
Two horseshoe-like spirals
Five major viaducts
Five reversing points