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Waimea Plains Railway

Preserving Southlands's Rail Heritage

K 92 - At The Plains Railway

Welcome To The Waimea Plains!

The Waimea Plains Railway was constructed by private investors from Dunedin, keen to secure trade with the rapidly growing tourist and mining industries in the Wakatipu District of Central Otago, and opened in 1880. There was already a Government railway linking Dunedin with Invercargill (220km) from where you could catch a train to Kingston (a further 140km) and then a 35km lake steamer journey to Queenstown. Construction of the Waimea Plains Railway between Gore and Lumsden reduced the train journey to one of 280km of comparative comfort and much greater reliability compared to a  stage coach trip over very poor roads of much the same distance. However, the Company was unable to reach a satisfactory arrangement with the Government for meeting the costs of operating Government equipment over the private railway, and was soon forced to negotiate a sale to the Goverment at an unsatisfactory loss. The line continued to be operated by the Government till 1971 by which time competition by road transport had reduced traffic to only occasional trains. Following recovery of the tracks,