Last Train to Paradise: Journeys from the Golden Age of New Zealand Railways
LAST TRAIN TO PARADISE is a celebratory account of a time when train travel was more than just the accepted means of travelling around New Zealand. It was also an era when rail journeys provided excitement, companionship and romance. Royal trains, troop trains, rugby specials, tourist trains ... all come to life in Graham Hutchins' evocative descriptions of rail travel in the golden age. In the first half of the twentieth century, travelling by train was the easiest way to get around New Zealand. Lines existed between most provincial towns, and world-famous visitors like Mark Twain and Lord Kitchener frequented the network. The Rotorua Limited carried the well-to-do in some style to take the waters in Rotorua; the Central Otago Express ventured through the tussock hinterland as far as Cromwell; the Auckland-Opua Express took passengers keen to discover the delights of the Bay of Islands; while the Onehunga Boat Train used to be part of the main route between Auckland and Wellington. 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 to the golden era of train travel (the first five decades of the twentieth century). Among the special journeys covered are the Prince of Wales' royal progress through New Zealand in 1920, and travelling with fans on the "Test Match Special" to enjoy the rugby in 1956. Graham Hutchins vividly evokes a way of life that has all but disappeared, recalling a host of characters and incidents from an age less obsessed with the motorcar. The book includes a wide variety of fascinating and unfamiliar photographs, both of the trains themselves and the people who travelled in them.
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