railways

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The North Island main trunk line

  • Page 1 – The North Island main trunk line

    Learn about the rapid rise and slow decline of passenger travel on the iconic main trunk line. Read about life on the rails and the vital role of the railway refreshment room.

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  • Page 2 – Building the main trunk

    On 15 April 1885 Premier Robert Stout, Wahanui Huatare and Rewi Maniapoto ceremonially turned the ‘first sod' of the central section at Puniu, near Te Awamutu.

  • Page 3 – Rise and fall

    A history of the North Island railway main trunk line since the first through train left Wellington on 7 August 1908

  • Page 4 – Travelling by train

    For most second-class travellers, travelling the main trunk meant a long, sleepless journey on hard-backed seats, struggling to find 'elusive comfort with the NZR pillow'.

  • Page 5 – Refreshments

    Refreshments are an essential and often talked about part of any train journey.

New Zealand disasters timeline

Railway stations

Rail tourism

  • Page 1 – Rail tourism

    From the late 19th century the expanding rail network opened up exciting leisure and tourism opportunities for ordinary New Zealand families. New Zealand Railways promoted rail

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  • Page 2 – Day excursions

    From the early days of rail, excursion and special trains gave people new opportunities to visit beaches, lakes, parks, racecourses and shows.

  • Page 3 – Holidaymakers

    As well as day excursions, from the mid-1890s New Zealand Railways offered special deals for travellers taking longer rail journeys over the Christmas and Easter holiday

  • Page 4 – Railways Studios

    In 1920 New Zealand Railways established it own Railways Studios – the country’s first outdoor advertising studio. The studios produced posters, pamphlets, maps and

  • Page 5 – Railways Magazine

    During the inter-war years no other monthly magazine matched New Zealand Railways for its commitment to promoting a popular literary culture in New Zealand.

  • Page 6 – Post-war changes

    After the peak years of the 1920s and late 1930s, tourist travel all but ceased during the Second World War.

Tangiwai disaster

The Vogel era

  • Page 1 – The Vogel era

    In 1870, Colonial Treasurer Julius Vogel launched the most ambitious development programme in New Zealand’s history. The ‘Vogel era’ was a decisive moment in New Zealand’s 19th

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  • Page 2 – New Zealand in 1870

    Three decades after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s two main islands were like two different countries.

  • Page 3 – Vogel's vision

    In June 1870, Vogel unveiled the most ambitious public works and assisted-immigration programme in New Zealand’s history.

  • Page 4 – Building Vogel's railways

    Julius Vogel wasn’t the first colonial politician to promise public works and immigration on the back of borrowed money. But the early 1870s offered better prospects for

  • Page 5 – Vogel's legacy

    After the initial enthusiasm of the 1870s, Julius Vogel’s reputation suffered in the 1880s when New Zealand’s economy slumped into a long depression that was triggered by an

Cook Strait rail ferries

Maori King movement - 1860-94

  • Page 6 – Tensions ease

    It was clear by the 1870s that the Kīngitanga posed no threat beyond its borders and was in no fit shape to fight a war. Attempts were made to ease relations between the king

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  • Page 6 - Tensions easeIt was clear by the 1870s that the Kīngitanga posed no threat beyond its borders and was in no fit shape to fight a war. Attempts were made to ease relations between the king and

State housing

  • Page 8 – Outside the mainstream

    Many of us associate the beginning of state housing with the hipped-roof cottages built by the first Labour government of the 1930s and '40s. But the origin of state housing

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  • Page 8 - Outside the mainstreamMany of us associate the beginning of state housing with the hipped-roof cottages built by the first Labour government of the 1930s and '40s. But the origin of state housing has

The 1920s

Passchendaele: fighting for Belgium

Dominion status

Seddonville

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