New Zealand (Part One)

Auckland

A holiday in New Zealand started in a rather grey and wet Auckland, where I found a small friendly city with a mixture of modern and traditional architecture.

Local train services are handled by a mixture of diesel units and push-pull loco sets. They run from a new underground station underneath the historic terminus at Britomart.

We took a ferry across the water to Devonport.

A short stroll from Devonport, North Head was a defensive fort for the harbour but is now a pleasant park offering good views across to the city centre.

The Overlander

Our first long-distance train ride, from Auckland to Wellington, started with diesel haulage, but this was replaced by a Brush electric loco for the hilly part of the journey.

The scenery on the trip was very good, climbing up into rolling hills in the style of England's Hope Valley - but with trees - and then over a high plain with distant volcanic peaks, and finally some impressive river gorges, a horseshoe curve and even a spiral as we descended towards the south of the Island.

Wellington

Transport in Wellington includes trolleybuses and local electric trains.

The Parliamentary buildings consist of a modern block of offices called the Beehive, in the middle is Parliament House dating from 1922 and the 1899 neogothic monster at the other end is the Parliamentary Library.

Every tourist has to ride up the Wellington Cable Car funicular for an excellent view over the city and harbour. Note that they've managed to squeeze a cricket pitch in despite the hilly terrain.

In the harbour we found this floating steam crane, which was built in Glasgow and delivered here under its own steam, not a journey I would fancy with that jib catching the ocean winds. Basically it is preserved, but is financed by real commercial work and recently had to lift 100 tons in order to renew its 80 ton licence.

The Interislander

The next stage of our North to South journey was via the Interislander ferry service from Wellington to Picton. The heavy fog gradually lifted as the ship took us across the Cook Strait and then along some remarkably narrow rocky channels to Picton on the South Island.

On arrival at Picton we were followed in to the harbour by this float plane.

A fascinating museum at Picton contains the remains of the Edwin Fox, said to be the ninth oldest ship in the world, along with lots of artefacts related to the ship's history. It was built in India in 1853 and was used for a wide variety of cargoes including munitions for the Crimean War, convicts to Australia and settlers to New Zealand.

The Tranzcoastal

The next train ride was from Picton to Christchurch. After climbing out of Picton we ran through a flat area with lost of vineyards.

Later in the journey we passed salt extraction ponds, some of which were strangely coloured.

Christchurch

A pleasant city with lots of interesting architecture.

In the centre of the city, historic trams provide a service for tourists. One tram - the blue one in this picture - is a restaurant.

December 2007

More New Zealand pictures in Part Two

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