A train goes over the rail bridge at the same time as a steamer boat passes under the bridge on the Waikato River.

Our newest exhibition is now on display on Level 3 of the Central Library until the end of May 2024. Come and learn about the history of transport in Hamilton from the river, to walking tracks, trains, buses, and motorcars!

Before the Great South Road, State Highway One, and the Waikato Expressway, the river was the main way in and out of the region. The Waikato was covered in dense kahikatea forests and swamplands but there were two walking tracks Maaori had used for centuries which connected Auckland to the Waikato River.

In 1853 surveyor Mr Hayr was travelling back to Auckland from the Waikato when a tapu blocked him from using the main track, Tuimata to Tuakau. He decided to walk a direct path to Drury on land already purchased by the government. While covered in bush, the land was solid unlike the other tracks which went through swamplands. Hayr was later commissioned to open this track up as bridle line, which then became part of the Great South Road, New Zealand's earliest Highway.

Explore a selection of images showing all manner of transport from our Heritage Online Collection.