Railway stations

Page 5 – The changing rail landscape

In the 1950s the New Zealand landscape was dotted with more than 1350 railway stations, even if many of them were simple shelter sheds. Today fewer than 100 survive, and only about 40 wooden stations remain on their original sites.

Thanks to community efforts a number of historic stations have been lovingly restored, including those at Blenheim, Carterton, Greymouth, Helensville, Oamaru, Opapa, Ormondville, Paekakariki, Remuera, Shannon and Waverley. Many no longer serve regular passenger trains. Some have been converted into cafes or restaurants, art galleries, museums, tourist information centres, bed and breakfast accommodation, garden centres, offices and even private homes.

Dunedin station houses a cafe, arts centre, the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and offices for the Taieri Gorge Railway, which is now the region’s only passenger service. The station’s long platform has even been used as a catwalk for fashion shows. Auckland’s grand beaux-arts-style station in Beach Road, opened in 1930, was sold to a private developer in the 1990s and was turned into student accommodation under the name Railway Campus. Notices warned any confused travellers that ‘This is not the railway station.’

Meanwhile, Auckland’s new Britomart Transport Centre was completed in 2003. This impressive complex brought trains back to lower Queen Street for the first time in seven decades and helped spark a revival in rail passenger travel in New Zealand’s biggest city. In 2006 new stations were opened at Henderson and Panmure. A new interchange has also been developed at Newmarket as part of a major upgrade of the region's suburban network.

How to cite this page

'The changing rail landscape', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/railway-stations/changing-landscape, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Sep-2014