The Kingston Flyer Vintage Steam TrainMarch 11 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C
We left cute Arrowtown and headed south to Te Anau in the area know as Fiordland. The views on the lakeside were so amazing, that I said out loud, “No more photos!” and to put the phone/camera to sleep. That is, until we stopped at a lookout. Otherwise, I would be taking a photo every minute!
When I say lakeside, I mean any closer and you’d be right in Wakatipu’s chilly waters. The road from Queenstown to Kingston hugs the lake edge with spectacular views in all directions. Chris promised to keep his eyes on the road, so it’s great that there are a number of lookout stops on the way. The most breathtaking is the panorama of the lake and mountains from the top of the Devil’s Staircase, a stretch of windy road blasted into rock near the southern foot of the majestic Remarkables Range. What a scary name for a road! Thank heavens, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds.
Before we left Arrowtown, we had heard talk about the historic Kingston Flyer steam train, so we detoured into little Kingston to look for it. It wasn’t hard to find. The shiny black locomotive which first ran in the late 1880s was parked somewhat sadly in a railway siding behind a security fence. What a beauty it had been.
At the end of the tracks, near the wharf, we saw some of the Flyer’s carriages, the guard’s van and wagons, mostly undercover. We felt like we had discovered something special and weren’t sure if we were supposed to be there. Like kids, we clambered up the steps of the cars and peered through the dusty, spider-webbed windows of the carriages.
In one of them, we could see rows of seats, brass light fittings, a tin roof and a first-aid locker. It looked like it had been a high end carriage at one time. Another carriage housed the kitchen for the train. It wasn’t in very good shape though.
We had to chuckle when we noticed a mailbox on the side of a carriage, with a plaque above its slot for mailing letters that read:
"Letters posted here must bear four cents extra rate of postage as late fee."
Protected from the elements, the carriages appeared to be in good condition. We wondered why the locomotive wasn’t undercover as well.
There was a small restaurant nearby called the Kingston Flyer Cafe. We think that it was the old train station. It was a picturesque building with window boxes full of colourful petunias. We went in and looked at the old train photos and ads through the years.
There was also a newspaper article written in The Otago Daily Times on December 13, 2018 with the headline ‘Kingston Flyer Getting Back on Track’ .
“What a thrill! All going well, the historic train, mothballed since 2013, will again fly along the 14km rail line between Kingston to Fairlight, hopefully by the end of this year. Blenheim-based Pounamu Tourism Group has leased the two locomotives and seven wooden carriages from investors who bought the train and associated land and buildings in 2017. Pounamu Tourism Group has already successfully launched The Marlborough Flyer steam train between Picton and Blenheim.
Plans include a fast-ferry service from Queenstown to Kingston to connect with the Flyer, reminiscent of an era when the ‘Lady of the Lake’ the historic steamship TSS Earnslaw plied this end of the lake.”
A year has passed since that article and it doesn’t look like much has been done to fix up the train, yet. There is probably a lot of red tape to go through and we figure that a lot of money will have to be spent to get it on the rails again. But, it will be great if that happens!Read more