IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that if you've always wanted your own steam train, there's one for sale in New Zealand complete with steam engine, two passenger carriages, a kitchen van, 14km of track, two stations, and associated nostalgic bits and pieces.
The historic Kingston Flyer began services from Kingston near Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island in the 1890s, operating regular passenger services between Kingston and Gore, Invercargill and Dunedin until 1937, with peak-season-only holiday services continuing until 1957 when these also ceased.
It lay idle until 1971 when the peak season services recommenced and survived until 1979; they were again suspended in that year, re-commencing yet again in 1982 for tourists on the now-shortened line from Kingston to Fairlight 14km away.
It was finally closed for good in August 2009 with its owners, Kingston Acquistions going into receivership with debts of NZ$4.7m.
And even though it's not chugged a centimetre since then, New Zealand's once most-famous steam train still attracts hundreds of train buffs, with at least three road coaches a day of tourists pulling up to see the old train and its historic buildings at Kingston.
If you're interested in your very own steam train to take mates on holidays in New Zealand, offers close on April 26; check it out on www.kingstonacquistions.co.nz