On Wednesday, October 3, there is an air of excitement as 23 ladies (plus our bus driver) await the signal for us to board the Kingston Flyer.
We are members of the Redwood Ladies Probus Club (Christchurch) and are on a five-day trip down south (Franz Josef, Arrowtown and Dunedin) and, for most of us, the Flyer is a first-time experience.
The keen photographers amongst us have been walking up and down, clicking the train from all angles.
We are so lucky to be doing this trip, as the train started up again only the previous Saturday following a maintenance overhaul.
We appreciate the ramp as we board the train, so much easier for our age group than the steep steps!
We leave Kingston at 10.05 sharp and are very amused at the ‘No smoking’ announcement as we look out at the black, billowing smoke outside the windows!
Our group fills up the pleasantly-designed carriage and we are grateful for the mini-chocolate bars which Natalie, our president, thoughtfully hands around.
Our tickets are clicked and we enjoy the landscape, brightened up with gorse bushes and a few streams.
The speed is good – I had expected it to be very slow.
In no time, we arrive at Fairlight (spot the station) where we stay for 25 minutes, but as it is a very cold and windy day, we are happy to stay on the train.
The engine does a U-turn, then it is the return trip to Kingston, leaving at 11am.
A lot of people, in groups, are lining the roads and waving to us – it makes us feel very important!
The track seems very close to the road and the countryside is very green, sprinkled with frisky lambs.
We arrive back at Kingston at 11.30am, just in time to enjoy a coffee and muffin, before boarding our coach and heading via Garston, Lumsden and Gore to Dunedin.
The Flyer Cafe-Bar is well sited.
I would certainly recommend the Kingston Flyer to all tourists and to any locals who have not experienced it.
There are two Kingston departures a day – at 10am and 1.30pm.
– Mavis Chandler