Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Kingston Flyer


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Waiting for a Train

In the morning I rode around Queenstown admiring the mist on the lake and watching the steamship prepare for the days work.

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I delayed leaving town to allow time for the tour buses, on their way to Milford Sound, to get going. I then rode all the way down the side of Lake Wakatipu, with the Remarkables looming in the distance, for a distance of about thirty miles until I came to the small village of Kingston.

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This was at the head of the lake where the railway from Invercargill used to terminate and passengers used to continue by the steamship to Queenstown. In those days their was no road going any further either. All that is left of the railway is a short stretch of about ten miles that goes from Kingston to Fairlight.. This is the home of the 'Kingston Flyer' a restored mainline steam train that has been restored and runs once a day as an excursion for tourists. I had to wait four hours for my half hour trip! However the station was also a pub so I managed to idle away the time by sitting in the sun, reading, wandering about the train sheds and turntable and by having a couple of jugs.

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Eventually the train was steamed up and she came rolling out of the shed. We all bvoarded. The driver, the fireman, the buffet assistant, three passengers and my bicycle. It was fun steaming through the countryside blowing the whistle at the locals. Eventually we came to where the line finished in a small copse. No station or any buildings at all. The engine was un-hitched and reversed on a triangle of lines before preparing for the return trip. I detrained and chatted to the crew whilst they waited.

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That evening I camped in the small copse as I figured it was too late in the afternoon to get anywhere else. I thought I was in the middle of nowhere but I was joined by a couple of Danish lads on a driving holiday and even later a German couple, also cycling, turned up. In the end it was quite a party.