Paekakariki Steam Train



By Jan Lowe
February 19th 2010

Paekakariki station took on an art deco look this morning as some passengers took the opportunity to dress the part and go by steam train to Napier for the weekend.

Steam Inc. is running a train especially for the Art Deco festivities, and while only about 50 people boarded the train at Kapiti, other enthusiasts will be collected en route to Napier.

Over the next five days over 3000 people are booked on day trips in and out of Napier.

In 2004/5 Steam Inc. decided to make the Art Deco weekend trip a permanent event and this weekend is expected to be a very busy one.

Twenty five crew members, mostly from Steam Inc., will be driving and servicing the train, cooking for and feeding the passengers and working as car stewards in the nine carriages for the long weekend.

The train returns home to Paekakariki on Monday.

There are five wooden carriages behind the engine. They were made between 1908 and 1912 in Dunedin. The other four carriages are steel clad and are of a later vintage – made in the 1920’s.

Approximately 30 tons of coal (at 1100 kg each bag )  have been loaded into two open cars – the engine will use 4.5 tons between Paraparaumu and Napier, as well as 18,000 litres of water to make the steam.

Stops are planned for Palmerston North and Dannevirke to take on more water.

John Bridson, a guard for the train but who is not going on this trip, said he lived in the King country as a child and the only way his family had of travelling was by steam train. He is passionate about preserving the train for future generations who have… “never seen the real thing.”  “This service helps to keep alive the romance of the period,” he said.

On Saturday the crew will be dressed in period costume, along with most of the passengers who are taking the day trip option.

The Paekakariki engine, number 1712, was rebuilt and completely overhauled at Steam Inc. after a shunting accident seriously damaged it in the 1970’s. It came back into service in 1997 and its first trip was to Dunedin and Invercargill where it had been built and met up with some of its original pre-accident drivers.  Since then it has been kept at Steam Inc. in Paekakariki.

The excitement when the train pulled in at the station today was contagious – cameras were out and people jostled to have a photo taken in front of the engine before they boarded.

For some people, the ride on the steam train was a first, and for others it was a regular occurrence, but everybody was keen to get started.

The magic is still there.