All Aboard the Kingston Flyer for annual celebration weekend
19 March 2012
‘All Aboard’ the Kingston Flyer for annual celebration weekend
Evoking a bygone era with brass shined, leather polished and fires stoked, the Kingston Flyer steam train is right ready for the inaugural Kingston Flyer Weekend to take place on Saturday March 31 and Sunday April 1.
The weekend is particularly poignant for the people of Kingston, a tiny town (population approximately 200) on the southern shores of Lake Wakatipu in the Queenstown Lakes District, because they nearly lost their train forever after the previous owner suffered financial failure in 2009.
“We are absolutely delighted to know that this beautiful train will continue to underpin our tiny tourism industry and will be seen puffing its way between Kingston and Fairlight with the mountains behind it as it has done for more than 130 years,” said Annette Dalziel of the Kingston Community Association. “This old steam train is a vital and integral part of our community and we are very keen to support the new owners in keeping it going.”
For new owner David Bryce (53), formerly from Southland, now a wine grower in Marlborough, the challenge of rebuilding a business around the Flyer is not the first he’s faced and is a goal which he is fully committed to.
“I suffered a stroke in March 2011 that changed my life completely, it gave me perspective. I had to struggle to rehabilitate myself physically and mentally and did so by setting small goals. When I saw the Kingston Flyer for sale on Trade Me, I made it my goal to secure ownership of the train and build the business for the community. So that’s what I’m doing.”
Buying the train sight unseen came as a shock to his family who wondered if he’d gone mad.
“But I’d thought to myself, let’s have some fun! Let’s buy the train!”
Now very supportive of the idea of a train in the family, David’s children help out in any way they can.
The first step for David is to make sure everyone knows about the train and has the opportunity to fall in love with it, just as he did.
“When I’m on that train or at the station I love seeing the joy on people’s faces. It’s not only the kids; people of all ages just love it. When I was on the locomotive for the first time it was very emotional and people kept coming up to me and patting me on the back and thanking me. It’s still emotional for me now, Kingston has an amazing energy about it and I want people to come spend time here and experience this amazing train - it’s part of New Zealand’s history.”
David credits the Stroke Foundation of NZ for their support and help during his rehabilitation and, as a way to say thanks and to support the foundation, will donate $5 from every ticket sold during the weekend.
“The Foundation was the catalyst for me to get everything I needed at the time. It is a fantastic support for stroke sufferers and survives on some government funding but predominantly donations – it is an integral part of the support structure for people who’ve suffered strokes and I should do anything I can to help and support them.”
Originally from Lumsden, David now spends most of his time in Kingston and is in relatively excellent health.
The Kingston Flyer Weekend will take place every year on the last weekend in March. This year three trips on each day will depart Kingston for Fairlight at the special Kingston Flyer Weekend rate of $20 per adult, $10 per child and under 5’s free.
“This is a family affair, it will be enormous fun for all ages and stages and we have priced this journey to make it affordable for as many people as we can put aboard.”
The Kingston Flyer Weekend is a community event and Mr Bryce invites other groups to get involved. Individuals are also welcome to help create a carnival atmosphere by hosting a stall and selling their wares.
More about ‘The Kingston Flyer Weekend’:
Where: Kingston, Queenstown Lakes
When: Sat 31st March / Sun 1st April
Time: 3 trips each day at 10am, 12pm and 2pm with a quick stop at Fairlight
Other info: guests can enjoy lunch and snacks at The Flyer Café Bar throughout the day
Fundraising for Stroke foundation with $5 from every ticket sold going to the Stroke Foundation.
Ticket prices: $20 adult, $10 child, under 5s free.