First train runs length of main trunk line

7 August 1908

Parliament Special train pass (Archives New Zealand, AAVK W3493 E Series_E4620)

The first train to travel the length of the North Island main trunk line, the ‘Parliament Special’ left Wellington on the evening of 7 August. On board were Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward and other members of Parliament heading to Auckland to greet the American navy’s ‘Great White Fleet’.

The train travelled over a temporary, unballasted track in the central section of the still-unfinished main trunk line. It was hauled in turn by locomotives from the Wellington & Manawatu Railway Company, New Zealand Railways, the Public Works Department and New Zealand Railways again. The trip took 20½ hours.

The main trunk line was not formally opened until 6 November, when Ward drove home a final polished silver spike at Manganuioteao, near Erua. Regular services began soon after, and an express train introduced in February 1909 made the trip in 18 hours.

How to cite this page

'First train runs length of main trunk line', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/first-direct-train-trip-between-wellington-and-auckland, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 25-Jul-2017