Great New Zealand Steam Journeys was established by rail enthusiasts to allow visitors to take full advantage of New Zealandís extensive rail network.
Much of New Zealand ís rail network passes through stunning scenery. However many of the most scenic lines are just used by freight trains so the scenery is hidden to visitors.
We thought this was a shame, so Great New Zealand Steam Journeys was created to work with established tour companies and the premier rail preservation groups to ensure their beautifully restored locomotives are able to take you along the most scenic passenger and freight lines in New Zealand.
This means you can now fully enjoy the romance and adventure of the bygone steam era, while travelling through some of the worldís most stunning scenery.
The steam preservation groups have successfully restored a variety of New Zealand ís most powerful express steam locomotives and between them have a current stable of over 20 locomotives.
Our train is likely to be hauled by one of the following types of locomotive that were used to haul New Zealand express trains from the 1930ís to the 1960ís:
K Class: 4-8-4
These were New Zealandís largest and most powerful locally built locomotives weighing nearly 145 tons. They proved very successful for heavy mixed traffic main line work with the most powerful Kb's being used on coal trains across the heavily graded Midland Line in the South Island . They were built from 1932 until 1956 and survivors are at Mainline Steam, Steam Incorporated, MOTAT and the Silverstream Railway. Most were converted to oil firing during their working lives and No. 942 is particularly interesting as it has been preserved in both streamlined and non-streamlined form.
J Class: 4-8-2
Much lighter than the Kís, the Jís were introduced in 1939. They were very successful on the lighter secondary lines and were very popular with their crews. The 40 original Jís were built by the North British company in Glasgow to New Zealand specifications with later Ja versions being built in New Zealand. While many were converted to oil firing, some preserved examples are still coal fired. One streamlined version, 1211, has been preserved and examples of Jaís can be seen at Glenbrook Vintage Railway, Mainline Steam and Steam Incorporated. The very last steam locomotive built for New Zealand Railways was Ja 1274 and it can be seen at Dunedinís Otago Settlers Museum.
Ab Class: 4-6-2
New Zealand gave the world the first ďPacificĒ class of locomotives and the Abís are probably the most ubiquitous and handsome New Zealand example of a Pacific. Another mixed traffic class, 141 examples were built from 1915 onwards and they could be seen at work in every corner of New Zealand. In the North Island examples can be seen at Mainline Steam, MOTAT and Steam Incorprated while in the South Island examples are regularly in steam at Weka Pass, Pleasant Point and at Kingston hauling the Kingston Flyer.
Wab Class 4-6-4
The only Wab certified for mainline use is 794. It was built at Dunedin in 1927. The Wab is a derivation of the Ab, but was built as a tank locomotive with an extra wheel on the trailing bogie. Placing the water tanks above the driving wheels meant that greater adhesion and so faster acceleration was achieved. This made them ideal for the constant stopping and starting required on the Auckland and Wellington suburban services, where they spent much of their working lives. 794 is owned by the NZ Railway and Locomotive Society but was restored by the Feilding Steam Rail Group and is based there.
Vintage Train (See it at Steam Inc)
Steam Incorporated has restored a complete set of historic red train carriages to go with their locomotives. This includes original wooden bodied carriages with their open-ended balconies and the original interior woodwork. Where possible we use these carriages for our Great NZ Steam Journeys. Please note that these are historical carriages and have been beautifully restored to their original condition, which means they are not equipped with some modern conveniences such as air conditioning.
For other journeys we may be using either the blue Tranz Scenic carriages or the Brown and Ochre Taieri Gorge carriages which are usually air conditioned and often have specially fitted scenic windows.