01 Sep Learning Centre students conquer the Spooners Tunnel

Earlier this week the Learning Centre Outdoor Education class had the opportunity to walk through the famous Spooners tunnel between Belgrove and Norris Gulley.

Ms Townsend who took the Learning Centre students to the Spooners Tunnel said that the trip provided the students with many learning opportunities. 

The Spooners Tunnel is the longest tunnel open for cycling in the Southern Hemisphere and the longest disused railway tunnel in Aotearoa. The students walked through the 1.4 kilometre long tunnel from both directions. During their visit the students learnt some the history of the former railway tunnel,  and were fascinated that it had been built from 1891 by two teams of fifteen men who dug the tunnel from opposite directions with picks and shovels.  The tunnel was completed in 1893 and was operated as a railway tunnel from 1896 before the tracks were pulled up and the tunnel boarded up in 1955.  The tunnel then sat unused for over sixty years.

On April 17, 2016 the tunnel was reopened as the newest section of the Tasman Great Taste Trail and is considered a significant and unique feature of the trail.

Students were supplied with  flash lights and jackets for the walk through the tunnel , and found the walk through the tunnel very exciting and challenging to walk through the dark. They noticed the alcoves, the soot on the walls and found an abandoned sign inside the tunnel. 

Ms Townsend mentioned that

“…initially some students were quite wary of walking the notoriously dark path through the tunnel. These initial fears were overcome with encouragement and reassurance from their teacher, the learning assistant, and in some cases each other. They were all very proud of themselves for completing the walk. “

The walk was followed up with an integrated History and Mathematics lesson where the students worked out from the historical facts and track information mathematical problems such as how far they walked, the age of the tunnel, how many years it had been closed for, and how many hours it would have taken to build the tunnel.

The trip was not possible without the ever present and tireless support from Susan Sinclair, Learning Support Assistant.

By Jane Townsend – Deputy Principal