The International Steam Pages
The Kingston Flyer, New Zealand
I visited Kingston as part of my New Zealand holiday with John Raby in
October 2002. There is more information on the railway on its website
Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu represent a large honey pot for tourists, but Kingston is just a small village at the south end of the lake with a small campsite/motel, a couple of cafes/bars, a petrol station and a shop. (Guess where we stayed....) The Kingston Flyer - probably the best known steam operation in the country - has been through a very up and down existence for 30 years. Recently taken over by local businessmen, hopefully it should now have a more secure future and offers three daily return trips. A 'new' station has been opened at Fairlight, and apart from the track which needs some attention, the whole operation is smart and professional while retaining a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. However, these are early days and during our visit they could have done with some more passengers in what was their off peak season. There are already many bus tours stopping off to see the train but the marketing department needs to convert more of these into 'bums on seats'.
There were rather more photo opportunities than I had expected not least because the loco is smokebox first in both directions. The first day saw near perfect weather. Ab Pacific 778 was in use on all three days and sister locomotive 795 was to be used in turn the following week.
The second day was less fine, but did produce the classic Rogers 2-4-2 pulled out of the shed for a group of visiting American railfans:
We had a fine morning next day for our last train before leaving for Dunedin. Special thanks go to loco crew Tom O'Brien and Dan Watson for their hospitality.
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