After spending a few days on the Routeburn track, mixing and mingling with all of the tourists doing some work experience as part of my course. This was an amazing experience to see how the tracks are kept up to date.
During April the Certificate of Conservation course from the Southern Institute of Technology got broken up into two groups. One was heading for the Hollyford working from Hidden Falls Hut towards the coast and the other group went into Howden Hut on the Routeburn.
Over the course of the week we where based at Howden Hut working on a section of track 15 mins walk from the hut towards McKenzie Hut, which in our case was great because we could return for lunch everyday. The first day of work which was a Tuesday we spent clearing the track removing moss, digging water tables (gutters)and leveling the track. During lunchtime Jason the hut warden gave us a demonstration and a trial of operating a Honda Barrow, which is a motorised wheel barrow on tracks. While four of us remained after lunch completing this task two members went with Jason to get the rock drill (Jack Hammer) from Earland Falls, to begin drilling holes in rocks for blasting.
Wednesday we began to cover the track with gravel, with three of our crew taking turns in operating the Honda Barrow, while our tutor and two others spread the gravel on the track, which proved to be a hard job as the gravel was constantly setting in the barrow. After we finished work today our group took a trip up to Key Summit for a look around, beautiful. . . .
Thursday our last day of hard work, two Honda Barrows going made our efforts hard as we where constantly filling the barrows non-stop. Our tutor always complained that we where going too slow, but we needed breaks too, so we could have a drink and a bite to eat. This day we worked till 5:30pm making up for yesterday's early knock off.
The experience was well worth the trip.