Historic Kingston Flyer Put Up For Sale Today


An iconic part of our pioneering and rail history - embracing all the romance and kingmystique of the steam engine era was put up for a receivership sale today.

Bayleys Queenstown has put on the market the assets of Kingston Acquisitions Limited, which owned the historic Kingston Flyer.

The assets include two highly collectable steam trains towing up to seven fully refurbished carriages, as well as extensive tracts of development land around the township of Kingston, 35 kilometres south of Queenstown. The train, track, station, associated buildings and nearly 80 hectares of surrounding land are being taken to tender by  Bayleys on behalf Prudential Mortgage Nominees Limited.

The announcement of the mortgagee sale brings to a head speculation and uncertainty that has surrounded the Kingston Flyer since it ceased operating three months ago. Kingston Acquisitions Limited was formerly headed up by property developer Dan McEwan.

Bayleys Queenstown sales consultant Barry Robertson said the offering encompasses a sizeable tract of land that was destined for a comprehensive commercial and residential development. “There are 13 parcels of land up for tender with some of the titles linked to the steam train - including a station and tavern, storage shed, and the railway corridor to Fairlight and Fairlight Station. Other titles include residential sections and development blocks, one of which has consent for a 15-lot subdivision,” Mr Robertson said.

“The mortgagee is willing to look at offers for the entire package, – including the rolling stock and plant. To say that opportunities like this come up once in a lifetime is an understatement… how often do you get the opportunity to purchase a fully operational vintage railway operation with all the services and infrastructure?”

Interest for the Flyer assets is expected to include both train enthusiasts and local /national tourism companies. Bayleys thinks other property assets will appeal to a wide range of potential home owners, investors and developers.

Dating back to the early settler days of the South Island gold rush, the Flyer – rumoured to be so-named because of the sensation passengers got as it ‘flew’ along the tracks – initially ran between Invercargill and Kingston. Since the early 1980s, the train has operated as a summer tourist service on 14 kilometres of track between Fairlight and Kingston in Southland.

The two locomotives in the Kingston Flyer sale – the Ab 778 which entered service in 1925 and the Ab 795 which started service in 1927 – are Pacific class locomotives, made in New Zealand. The 778 was built at the New Zealand Railways’ Addington, Christchurch yards while the 795 was built at the Railways’ yards in Hillside, Dunedin. The Ab 795 once pulled the New Zealand Royal Train and both are among the last Ab class coal-fired locomotives still functional today.  Chugging behind are seven 1898-vintage steam-heated wooden carriages - including passenger cars and kitchen van - featuring wood panelling, leather seats and brass trims.

The Kingston Flyer rolling stock and railway are included in the Queenstown Lakes District Plan inventory of protected features.

“There is a lot of sentimentality around the Kingston Flyer and the place that it has cemented in the hearts and minds of people down here. We are very mindful of that, and hope that by offering it for tender, the ultimate outcome may be that it will be running again in due course,” says Mr Robertson.

The government said it wouldn’t be bailing it out and the Queenstown Lakes District mayor Clive Geddes has previously said that while the council “can’t write cheques, we will ensure that it (the train) stays in the district, and will provide every little bit of help we can to any prospective purchaser.”

Tenders for the sale of the Kingston Flyer close with Bayleys Queenstown on December 11.





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