These photographs of the Reefton area were taken during the period of three years that I was a railwayman in Reefton.



They have all been printed from negatives that I managed to keep intact all these years. At the time I took them I never imagined that in later years they would be of use in providing a look back into the past. Reefton was then a contented, happy and carefree place, without noise or bustle.


Reefton was, and probably still is , a very pleasant place during the summer months, but if you were a resident of Reefton, you paid for your summer pleasures when winter came with its fierce frosts and fog.

In the hollow of the hills, the fog would stay low and cold for a week or more. The frost made life rather difficult when all water supplies froze up for days on end.

The hills which rise high all around Reefton were , as now, covered in thick scrub, following the earlier days of clearing the native bush. It was likely that the native bush in its time would have been easier to get through than the second growth scrub which followed. This scrub was a mixture of almost anything that could gain a root-hold- anything from gorse and manuka to bracken fern . Getting through it was almost impossible. There was however, a track which led up to the town reservoir and this gave access to higher levels from which the obstinate climber could go further afield.


I do not now remember why I took these photographs of some of the more prominent buildings of Reefton, except that they may of been of some interest to me. However it may well be that they are of more than passing interest now, as following a recent earthquake, some have had to be removed and others have gone as the price of progress.



Racecourse Gates 1938


For about two years of the time I was in Reefton, I was a guest In Dominion House, a boarding house operated by Mrs. E. (Ruby), Rollerson, and her two daughters: Olive and Iris. They were happy years amongst a large group of mostly young men who loved life and fun. It was a different  day then when the Second World War, just started, had not had its full effect, and the day of now 1973, was still  to come , with the disease of drugs and louts on the rampage.

It will be noticed that almost all the roads or streets were of gravel in 1938/39.


Most people who know Reefton will recognise the places shown in the photos.

They will also note that they were taken in the days before tar -sealed roads were introduced in the District. There were a few tar- sealed roads then Buller Road to the Railway crossing, and Broadway. I think these two were the only ones in 1939.




Photo above and below are of the railway bridge over the Inangahua River on the approach to Reefton.




Below is a river scene with the sun’s rays passing in front of the camera,  a picture of the Inangahua River in reasonably high flood, as seen looking upstream from the road bridge on the road to Greymouth.



Norman Junge was born in Pukerau near Gore on the 3rd march 1916, the third eldest in  a family of five sisters and one brother. He worked on a farm in Charleston before moving to Reefton to work as a porter on the railways, he progressed on to become a guard working on the Trains between the West Coast and Christchurch, during the war he joined the airforce and  was stationed in Canada after the war he Married and had twin boys and a daughter. During his retirement in 1973 Norman put together a photo album of his time in Reefton and donated it to the Blackspoint Museum, below are the photo’s and his memories. (the information  about Norman was gathered from his brother Vince who was just turning 93 years old in April 2007) Norman died in Ashburton in June 1989 aged 73.

reefton memories 1938--39
BY norman junge

These pictures illustrate parts of Reefton and the road to the Maruia leaving the township and going up through Blacks Point during the winter of probably 1938.


Particularly interesting is the photograph of Blacks Point when it was still a sleepy hollow and the road makers had not yet learned of its existence.

In 1973, it would be almost impossible to recognise it  as the same place.


During these years a considerable amount of fruit was conveyed from the Nelson area to Inangahua, Reefton and Greymouth, for loading into railway wagons for transport to the East Coast, and some of the transport carriers worked as far as Ross. The photo below shows Eric Anglesey working on his truck outside Dominion House, Reefton 25th July 1939.


The other two photos are of the newly established Railway Road Service working from Reefton up the Lewis Pass Road; the lower is of the truck bogged in soft ground with a six inch tree stump protruding in front of the rear axle after pulling aside to let a west-bound car go by. Extricating the truck took several hours.


It was during this period that the New Zealand Railways Road Services became established at a time the Railways began purchasing existing road services from established companies, or in some cases, starting out on its own routes. The service through the road to the Maruia, and up the Maruia Valley, was of two trucks taken over from a Reefton carrier. The truck in this picture is of a Bedford(about 3 tons capacity), with a load of concrete pipes on the way to the Rahu Saddle for public works purposes.


The swing bridge was  a popular summer area on the Inangahua River for local lads to go swimming. This bridge gave access from the main road, about a mile from town, across the river, to the water race, which supplied the local power station.


The bottom picture shows four of the Dominion House boys: George Dollan, Garth Richards, Frank Buckingham (the fourth boy’s identity is unknown)


                                             FEBRUARY 1939

Of days that are gone....below photos...................

Hay-making beside the Inangahua Road, just along from the railway station.

I know the farm so well too, but I simply cannot remember whose it was !

But it can be taken for granted that methods such as shown for hay-making are seldom used now.



                         REEFTON ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY 1938



Photographs  are of the Reefton Electric Light & Power Company Ltd . The photographs are dated 1938. 





The young man shown  at the wateroutlet was Arthur McKenna, a Post Office Official, who was one of the first New Zealanders to enter the 1939-45 war in the Pacific. He was also one of the first to die there for his country.


It will be noted that the street lights are shown burning. This was necessary to keep a load on the powerhouse generator.



                                       13 FEBRUARY 1939

                On this page is a group of railway photographs.


   Standing beside their engine:Uc-361, are the firemen: Mr H Williams, and his       driver: Mr A.E. Dawson.          


       The afternoon mixed train, No. 777, ready to leave Reefton for Greymouth.


                 The railway yards during a more peaceful and pleasant period.



Perry’s Circus coming to town. The picture was taken during unloading operations with the elephant, shown here, pushing a calculated weight of 85 tons.The circus was in Reefton on 13 February 1939



The Circus Train ready to go. This would be  a rare occasion, when a train leaving Reefton was hauled by three engines.


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