No book exists specifically on the famous, popular 'name' trains that used to run on the New Zealand rail network. The Auckland-Opua Express once carried passengers to the Bay of Islands, the Onehunga Boat Train used to be part of the main route between Auckland and Wellington, and the Rotorua Limited enabled tourists and the well-to-do to take the waters in Rotorua. Later trains like the Silver Star and Northerner - even the Kaimai, Geyserland and Bay Expresses, withdrawn in 2001 - had a distinctive character too.
Last Train to Paradise describes the halcyon days of New Zealand rail, some of which the author was fortunate enough to experience personally. The 'name' trains and journeys cover a considerable period of New Zealand's history, from the late 1800s, through the 'golden' era of train travel (the first four decades of the 20th century), and conclude with the introduction of new services in the last half of the century. The railway lines described in the book cover every part of the country - and some that have almost been erased from popular memory.
Almost everyone in the first half of the 20th century travelled by train - including royalty. In 1869 the first royal train journey from Lyttelton to Christchurch carried the Duke of Edinburgh; the first fully-fledged royal train carrying the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall (the future King George V and Queen Mary) plied the route of the Rotorua Limited and the South Island Express; in 1920 the Prince of Wales traversed the country by train with Lord Louis Mountbatten. In 1927 the Duke and Duchess of York (the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) travelled more than 1700 miles by royal train.
Other distinguished visitors whose stories will be told in the book include the English comedian J.L.Toole and his company (1890), Australian poet Will Lawson, singers Dame Nellie Melba, Dame Clara Butt, Irish tenor John McCormack and Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin, Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski, 'March King' John Philip Sousa and his band, ballerina Anna Pavlova, the 17-year-old violinist Yehudi Menuhin, writers Rudyard Kipling, Zane Grey and George Bernard Shaw, and actors Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.
The book will include a wide variety of fascinating and unfamiliar photographs, not just of the trains themselves but also of the people who travelled in them.
1. Sleepless in Taihape: The Auckland - Wellington Express, 1955
2. A prince among travellers: The royal train, 1920
3. Last stop, Bay of Islands: The Opua Express, 1946
4. Taking the waters and the train: The Rotorua Limited, 1930
5. Train to nowhere: The Taneatua Express, 1939
6. Steaming past the mountain: The New Plymouth Express, 1935
7. A year before the quake: The Napier Express, 1930
8. South for the summer: The South Island Express, 1926
9. Buller or bust: The Nelson Express, 1926
10. Don't take this train for granted: The West Coast Express, 1936
11. To the rugby on the 'Rocky Island Line': The Test Match Special, 1956
12. The tawny mantle of tussock: The Central Otago Express, 1939
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 1st July 2011
Publisher: Exisle Publishing Limited
Country of Publication: NZ
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 18.4
Weight (kg): 0.86
Edition Number: 1