It was a “Girls Day Out” train trip into the big city today for a little retail therapy, and Dot and I drove from Levin to Waikanae to catch the train. The electrified commuter service was extended to Waikanae in 2011. Minister of Transport Steven Joyce and Otaki MP Nathan Guy drove the last spike. Nathan Guy has a family connection to this part of the rail as his great-grandfather was chairman of the WMR when the last spike was driven in 1886. The posh new Matangi train was not running for our ride into Wellington, and we were carried by an older EM class train. These were built by Ganz-Mavag, of Hungary.
Wellington City was very busy, school was out so the kids were out too. Shoppers were everywhere, as were the city workers, all going about their business. The Salvation Army Band was playing Christmas songs on the footpath and we noticed one tiny little girl merrily dancing to the music.
Once our shopping was completed we headed back to station, passing by Parliament Grounds. A set of Pou Whenua, tribal boundary markers, flank a pathway leading up to Parliament Buildings. This area is known as Wai-titi Landing, (place of shining waters), and was originally a beach, a resting place for waka (Maori canoe). Reclamation of the foreshore started in the 1850s, and the 1855 magnitude 8.2 Wairarapa Earthquake uplifted the north-western side of Wellington. This created a tidal swamp, and most of this land was subsequently reclaimed, providing for new rail and road routes to the north. By the end of the 19th century, the original 1840 shoreline was unrecognisable.
We were pleased board one of the nice new FP/FT Matangi trains for our return trip. With their colourful blue and lime green furnishings, electronic information boards and voice-overs, these trains seem very swish indeed. It was a good day out, and our train travel was all courtesy of our Gold Cards – oldies travel free on off peak services, thanks to the government.