Spooners Tunnel


Location: Spooners Range, Golden Downs Forest, Nelson

Length: 1352 Metres

Age: 134 Years

Made Of: Concrete

Current Status: Closed

Spooners Tunnel is New Zealand’s longest disused rail tunnel, 1352m long and at an altitude of 303m. The rail tunnel was once used for commercial mushroom growing. It also was a base for seismic equipment to gather earthquake data.

Located near State Highway 6 and in-between Belgrove and Kohatu it is now a popular tourist destination, with guided tours. The tunnel is maintained today by a trust formed with help from the local Council. The

proceeds from tours are used to meet the cost of looking after it. It is now a tourist attraction and is sometimes opened up to the public to walk through. The tunnel has been proposed to re-open for the cycle way that goes through the Nelson region.

More famously and importantly from 1893 it was a crucial rail connection to the Nelson region through the Golden Downs ranges from Glenhope in the south. Work on the tunnel started in 1891. Foreign immigrants, such as Chinese, Japanese, Italian, worked for two years, to dig through the hill to create the tunnel. Trains chugged their way through until rail services to Nelson stopped in 1955. The rail link had run for 79 years.

Both Picture Sources: “Rails To Nowhere – The history of the Nelson Railway” by Lois Voller. Courtesy of the Nelson Provincial Museum.

Spooners Tunnel as it is today