When I first received this book my first thoughts were ‘what do I know about trains? I’ve hardly ever been on one,’ but how wrong could I be. This is an extremely entertaining account of Denis Dwyer’s fascination with all things trains and the amazing train journeys around New Zealand. And as it turned out, I actually have been on quite a number of the train journeys that Denis writes about in this book.
This book is divided into chapters detailing the different train journeys that Denis, and occasionally his wife Dale, have traveled on around the country. I have experienced the Capital Connection, Wellington suburban from the Kāpiti coast into Wellington, and I agree that it is a great journey with such contrasting scenery.
Glenbrook Vintage Railway is another that Dwyer describes his experience of, talking to the volunteers that happily give up their leisure time to spend hours talking to people and taking people on the wonderful railway that has been re-built and maintained by many volunteers over a lot of years. Thomas the Tank Engine weekends have been a great drawcard to families, including my own. My grandchildren absolutely loved the whole experience. Well worth a trip out there.
Driving Creek Railway is another wonderful rail trip. Travelling up to the Coromandel, Barry Brickell started this railway as a means to transport potting clay to his workshop. The bush had all been decimated by Kāuri logging. Barry had a vision of replanting and restoring the native bush. The railway was later developed to carry tourists. Brickell made sure his vision would carry on without him by putting the entire operation into a trust so that it will continue on into perpetuity.
One of my very favourite rail journeys, which Dwyer describes, was the TranzAlpine from Christchurch to Greymouth. This is a wonderful journey with so much incredible scenery to enjoy.
I really enjoyed this book with Denis’s various anecdotes about people working on the rail lines, on the trains during the journeys and the passengers. In an era where everything is about rushing and getting places in record times it’s wonderful to be able to kick back and enjoy a more leisurely way of travel. It is a great way to see a country.
This book would be a great present for Christmas for someone in the family that you know enjoys train journeys.
Reviewed by Christine Frayling
New Zealand Adventures by Rail
by Denis Dwyer
Published by New Holland Publishers