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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 3 (June 1, 1935)

Christchurch to Queenstown — Corsair Social Club's Excursion

page 51

Christchurch to Queenstown
Corsair Social Club's Excursion.

Queenstown as seen from the slopes of Ben Lomond, South Island, New Zealand.

Queenstown as seen from the slopes of Ben Lomond, South Island, New Zealand.

During the recent Easter holiday period a very successful excursion (organised by the Christchurch Corsair Social Club) was run, under ideal weather conditions, from Christchurch to Dunedin and Queens-town. The train, which consisted of sixteen well-filled carriages (four for the Dunedin excursionists, one for a party en route to the Eglinton Valley, via Lumsden, and eleven for the Queenstown excursionists) left the Christchurch station at 4.45 p.m. on Easter Saturday, a large number of people being present to witness its departure. Stops were made for refreshments at Ashburton and Oamaru. After leaving the latter station many of the excursionists settled down in rugs and pillows to sleep. Others, however, were content to gaze out over the moonlit countryside and enjoy the silhouettes of the distant hills and farmhouses. Amongst the excursionists were many who had read the recent articles “From a Smoker Window,” which appeared in the “Railways Magazine,” and thus, to them, the scenic highlights of the journey were particularly interesting and inspiring.

The train arrived at Dunedin at about 12.30 a.m. Here the Dunedin excursionists alighted and the carriages occupied by them were removed from the train. The journey was resumed to Gore, where a fresh engine from Invercargill coupled on to the train and hauled it to Kingston. Lumsden was reached at 4.50 a.m., and the carriage containing the 25 excursionists for the Eglinton Valley trip was detached from the train. (These excursionists were met by two good buses belonging to Campbell's Service and conveyed to their destination.) The journey was then resumed to the railhead at Kingston. Here approximately 300 excursionists joined the gaily decorated Railway Department's lake steamer “Earnslaw,” and within fifteen minutes were under way for Queenstown.

Queenstown, the centre of the great Southern Lakes District, was reached about 8.30 a.m. Excursionists were quick in disembarking and setting off to view the various places of interest near at hand. Many trips were available for those desiring to make them—launch trips to Kawarau Dam and Bob's Cove, motor trips to Skippers and Arrowtown, and, for the “hikers,” Queenstown Hill (2,958 ft.) and Ben Lomond (5,757 ft.) sent out a challenge to conquer.

In addition, a day excursion trip to the Head of the Lake by the T.S.S. “Earnslaw” had been arranged by the Railway Department. This steamer was due to leave Queenstown at 10.0 a.m., and many availed themselves of this opportunity of a cruise to the upper reaches of the lake. The air of festivity was enhanced by the attendance of the Invercargill Pipe Band, and a few minutes after 10.0 a.m. the whistle was sounded and the gay party sailed away from Queenstown. Mist, however, clung to the tops of the surrounding mountains and a keen wind prevailed, but the spirit of the party remained undaunted. A visit was paid to Walter's Peak Bay where lay the old ship “Mountaineer,” now used principally as a houseboat. Leaving this pretty little bay the foot of Mount Nicholas was skirted, Bob's Cove passed and a call made at Elfin Bay. Many excursionists elected to leave the steamer at this point and make a trip to Lake Rere, some two and a half miles inland. The steamer then set her course for Glenorchy (the head of the lake), arriving there at 1.30 p.m. At this point arrangements had been made for the Knowles Motor Service to transport as many as possible on a motor run of twelve miles distance to that world-famed scenic resort. Paradise. Over fifty excursionists availed themselves of the arrangement, and all expressed appreciation and admiration of the scenery en route.

The steamer was due to depart from Glenorchy on her return trip at 4.0 p.m. The sun had now broken through the mist, and the return trip down the lake was one which revealed the magnificence of the scenery so much talked of by tourists to New Zealand's Southern Lakes.

Shortly before 8.0 p.m. all were on board, the wharf being thronged with the Pipers and residents of Queenstown, who gave the excursionists a stirring farewell. Immediately following the departure, gramophone dance music was broadcast over the ship, and the trip to Kingston was thus rendered pleasant by the consequent dancing and community singing. At Kingston a clean and comfortably-heated train was soon filled, and an immediate departure made for Lumsden where the Eglinton Valley party joined the train. Breakfast was served at Oamaru, and the end of a most enjoyable trip was reached at Christchurch at 12.7 p.m. on Easter Monday.

The efforts of the Christchurch Corsair Social Club in organising an excursion of this kind won the enthusiastic appreciation of all who were privileged to make the trip.