Tararua Plane Wreckage Stolen

This is quite bizarre and rather concerning.

[Edit 22-Jan-2012: This post seems to turn up quite often in search engines. For the more complete media narrative of what happened after I posted this, you should also read Stolen Shingle Slip Knob Plane Wreckage Found in Masterton and Tararua Plane Wreckage to be returned to Tararuas]

The Tararua Range is dotted with plane wrecks which make up much of the history of the region. A particular one of these wrecks is very well known to people who visit the area, as it’s clearly visible from Mt Holdsworth and the surrounding ridges. It seems that recently, this wreck has been raided and major parts of it have been stolen for unknown reasons.

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The Shingle Slip Knob wreck of 1955 is clearly visible from the ridge between Jumbo and Holdsworth along the popular Jumbo/Holdsworth loop. (This photo from December 2006.)

According to the linked article from the Dominion Post, an unidentified helicopter was seen making three trips to the wreckage, and further investigations have now found that the plane’s engine has been taken, and other parts have been moved to other places for easier removal.

From the linked article:

The wreckage of a plane strewn near the gravesites of two pilots killed in the crash in the Tararua Range more than 50 years ago has been stripped in an act damned by the Conservation Department “as daylight robbery”.

“In the past week, parts of the plane’s remains, which are now owned by the Crown, have been whisked away and other sections have been moved into clearings for easier removal.

[–snip–]

Tramper Barry Durrant told The Dominion Post he saw a red and white Hughes 500 helicopter make three trips to the site of the wreckage last Friday.

The Department of Conservation staff who administer the park are fairly dismayed, and I don’t blame them. So am I. It’s disrespectful to the pilots who died in the accident, and it’s disrespectful to everyone who enjoys the history of the Tararua Range.

Update 8-3-2009, 9pm: There’s a conversation thread about this topic running over at New Zealand Tramper.

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