Flipping through an aviation magazine, I spotted an item ‘The Tiger turns 80.’ This classic design of Geoffrey De Havilland first flew on October 26, 1931. A sort of every man’s aeroplane, the tiger served many roles including long pioneer inter-country flights. Many are preserved and still fly, even in New Zealand, appearing more the symbol of a craftsmanship than technology. The wood and fabric bi-plane is pleasing on the eye, and of similar vintage to the heritage trams seen on the Dockline Tram circuit. Heritage trams, like the Tiger Moth, are attractive owing to an obvious craftsmanship. The 1920s and 30s, preceded by the Edwardian age, represent eras when vehicles of transport were typically made from wood and other basic materials. Design and appearance were paramount.. And such basic materials have made it possible for pristine restoration to working condition in a 21st century. I recall when preparing the 1910 Boom tram on the Christchurch Tramway for its duties, polishing woodwork and tying down ropes, I felt I was working on a rich person’s sailing craft rather than a vehicle of heritage commuting. Take a ride on the Dockline Tram and be enriched by your own impressions.
Check out this week’s NZ Woman’s Weekly (January 30) on sale today. Travel page (P77) has Roy’s story resulting from a visit to Wynyard Quarter last year. The magazine has presented a pleasing layout. It inspires me to plan my next Auckland visit. Watch this space.
Despite our government’s ongoing passion for roading and traffic congestion/pollution, rail seems to be progressing well with the steady advance of Auckland’s 25kV AC Metro rail electrification. Next year we should be seeing some of the stylish Spanish-built EMU units. Auckland will have an electric train service as good as the best anywhere. In the South Island I have enjoyed several train rides aboard the new Ak cars in use on the Coastal Pacific Service . They have been superbly-designed and built in NZ- at KiwiRail’s Hillside workshops in Dunedin. These are definitely world class carriages. Their introduction this year on the TranzAlpine will be another significant step forward. I also suspect Dockline Tram is the beginning of something more impressive, emerging as part of an Auckland modern Light Rail network. Priority has to be getting the tramway to Britomart. It will be needed for all those additional people soon to be commuting to and from the spectacular new ASB head office complex in Wynyard Quarter. We can only hope the rail renaissance is ongoing and does not stop unfinished as has happened all too often. While talking about the South Island, Auckland-based Lonely Planet author Brett Atkinson says post-quake Christchurch is emerging as one of New Zealand’s most exciting cities. He recommends staying several days.