This site portrays the locomotives that were used on the
New Zealand Railways network. The period covered is from 1870 until 28 October 1971 when the
last steam locomotive dropped its fire and was withdrawn from service.
Ka 945 restored and owned by Steam Incorporated Photo: Steam Incorporated
Early locomotives were imported, mainly from Britain and the United States, until the NZR established its own
erection workshops at several sites. Scott Brothers Ltd. of Christchurch built a number of locomotives for
NZR while the Thames company of A & G Price Ltd. built a total
of one hundred and twenty-three locomotives for the Railways. The Dunedin
company of James Davidson & Co. assembled three locomotives from imported parts.
New Zealand's rail networks operate on a gauge of 3ft 6ins (1067mm) and at the peak of its expansion consisted
of 3,526 miles (5,678 kms) of track in both North and South Islands. The main network has been government owned until sold in 1992.
The topography of New Zealand's two main islands demanded a narrow track gauge to keep costs down for a
young nation and the ruggedness of the country means that there are numerous bridges and tunnels with one
bridge for every 1 mile (1.7 km) of track, the longest bridge of 1.08 miles (1.743km) being over the Rakaia River south of Christchurch.
Lines run underground in tunnels for a total length of 54 miles (87 kms).
The longest tunnel is the Kaimai Tunnel boring through the mountain range between Hamilton and Tauranga, with a length of
5.53 miles (8.9 kms).
The highest railway station in New Zealand is the North Island's Waiouru Station at 2,670 feet (814 metres).