Kingston Flyer On Trade Me


Want to buy an historic railway?
The Kingston Flyer is being advertised on Trade Me.

The mortgagee sale involves The Kingston Flyer itself comprising two locomotives, passenger cars, kitchen van and flat top wagons. There are also 13 parcels of land situated at the lakeside township of Kingston, approximately 35km south of Queenstown on State Highway 6. Some of the titles are linked to the historic Kingston Flyer steam train including a station and tavern, storage shed, railway corridor to Fairlight and Fairlight station.

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.

This is the latest sad chapter in the Flyer’s demise.

This iconic part of our pioneering and rail history – embracing all the romance and mystique of the steam engine era - ceased running mid-2009  and was put up for a receivership sale without success despite international interest.

The Government made it clear that  it wouldn’t be bailing it out and the Queenstown Lakes District mayor had 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.”

No price is given on the Trade Me advertisement but all offers will be considered.






  1. Mike F says:

    Was it the Kingston Flyer the train in the old Cruchie ad that ran for years and years. I suppose it was about the late seventies ?

  2. Giel says:

    What has happened to this train is a national discrace as it was the fall of a national icon that no one gave a toss about caused by a property developer/speculators entreprenueral misguidance and greed.

    Sold by Tranz Rail for as liitle as about $500k in 2002 during that companys’s downsizing / asset stripping period while that business was struggling to survive, it was eventually picked up by a property developer who leveraged the train and associated property for up to $4 Million in order to raise finance for a property development around the Kingston township (of which the Flyer was to be centrepiece).

    The Kingston Flyer train business subsequently carried the can for the failed property development and all the debt (secured by the train) meant the business had to fold as it was barely cash positive in operating terms (let alone bearing a finance charge on a $4M loan secured by it).

    The Southland and/or Queenstown Lakes District Council will need to do what Dunedin City did with the Taeri Gorge Railway in 1990 when the Otago Central Line closed if it is to stay in that area and purchase it / underwrite its operations for a few years while it gets back on its feet. The train will not stand on its own two feet as it is and would need a very sympathetic owner even if it was purchased for NIL cost as it needs a lot of investment and building up again - as I said its revenue generation barely covered operating costs let alone any capital reinvestment requirments and purchase costs amortisation/return.

    Otherwsie the train should move somewhere else like Hokitika to run excursions between there and Greymouth connecting with the Tranz Alpine where it would have a captive audinence on a trip of some value.

    Very Sad.

  3. Finn says:

    Oh sweet I’ll buy it…if only I had the money. What’ll happen to the two Ab locos if the Kingston Flyer is abandonned? I also thought that the Rogers K 88 (?) was there, that must have moved. I reckon that if the Flyer is abandonned the two Ab’s should be put to use on the Taieri Gorge Railway to make it even more spectacular! Either that or lend it to Mainline Steam or Railway Enthusiasts Society or something.

  4. Finn says:

    Infact you know what would be good, the two Ab’s should be given to the Gisbourne Steam Company and when the line is closed down they could save the railway from Gisbourne to Wairoa and the two Ab’s and Wa165 can do shuttles there back just like Glenbrook. Or could even save the NAL from Helensville to Wellsford/Dargaville and use the locos.

  5. Tim says:

    Finn, you sum up the fragile state of the NZ national railway very well. It’s very sad that so many lines are underutilised and may well be gone in a few years.

  6. dj says:

    Finn, K88 is back at the Plains Railway at Tinwald. The Plains Railway Is having a 40th anniversary celebrations labour weekend this yrar.

  7. Giel says:

    All good ideas people - particularly like the NAL option if it closes but then again the Auckland region already has the Glenbrook Vintage steam railway so not sure it needs another one or if that would be financially sustainable - someone would have to pay!!. Gisborne unfortunately is probably too far out of the way and remote to be commercially viable. Taieri Gorge Railway don’t want it due to line side fire risk in Central Otago’s dry summer and steams high operating costs. Their operation is commercially marginal as it is.

    The point is that the fall of this train is a bit of a microcosm of what happened to the national rail system. The difference being the Government repurchased the national system with local body support (read finance underwriting and funding by Local and Central Government) for regional / commuter passenger rail, eg Wellington and Auckland, upgrades and running costs. The same in a different manner was true with Dunedin city for Taieri Gorge railway.

    In the case of the Kingston Flyer there is no regional (or Government) funding support from the area and so the inevitable happened - it folded. It is not at Queenstown like the Ernslaw cruise steamship and Kingston is a bit out of the way from there so passenger numbers always struggled.
    Note that all the other heritage railways are run and owned by volunteers - they have very cheap (or even free) labour with sponsor support eg Solid Energy for coal etc. The Kingston Flyer wasn’t - it was a business that had to stand on its own and without support like the Taieri Gorge Railway (which is also a business) had during its formative years from the region in which it operates would never survive long term.

    It now needs to go somewhere else where it will be loved and rebuilt into a sustainable operation. Hokitika to Greymouth connecting with the Tranz Alpine may be a commercial operation particularly if someone like Solid Energy with free coal supported it as a good will jesture for West Coast development for a while as it was building up in to a fully commercial stand alone operation.

  8. Luke says:

    funnily enough theres a picture of the Kingston Flyer in todays Manawatu Standard, but it is actually of K88, which has run occasionally on the flyer line, but is now based at Ashburton, and is not part of the set for sale.
    I wonder if this mistake has been repeated in other Fairfax papers such as the Dom and Press.

  9. Karl Barkley says:

    Hi to all you Fans of the Kingston Flyer Railway well today Faxed away our second offer to Purchase The Railway this Time Via it being Sold on Trademe. Well Easter might have a whole new meaning to the reincarnated as we could well be the New Owners if our price is excepted, if so we will be Looking for the Funds required to get this Gr8 Railway up & Running again ASAP before the World Cup ? $10 NZD from 250000 Kiwi all that is needed Follow us on Facebook “Saving The Kingston Flyer Railway” Twitter “Steamingmaddd &


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