Several weeks ago Peter Rumble who owns Rumbles Wines in Wellington organised a trip from Wellington to Wanganui on the steam train. But that was the least of it. This was a special trip, a Tarlant Vintage Champagne tasting, no less, with around a dozen different vintages to sample on the way out and on the way home. How could we refuse?
I love travelling by train. You get to look into people’s back yards – washing on the line, kids hitting balls or just mooching around while Mum cleans the house. Then you hurtle past Saturday morning playing fields, kids playing footie, further into the outskirts of towns and the semi-rural industries like fake lawns, alpaca farms, and then you’re into the real agricultural landscapes with farmers feeding out. And at every level crossing, every town, the people drop what they’re doing to wave to the steam train. Whoooh-oooh, goes the whistle, a strangely haunting sound, and families come running. Even grown men step out of their utes to wave to the train. Young mums with babes on their hips part the curtains of their front rooms and wave to the steam train. Horses take fright and flee across the paddocks, tails in the air, snorting wildly, and gallop from the steam train. It was a splendid day. Half way to Wanganui the driver stopped, we all got out and clambered on to an overbridge while he backed up the track then whooshed under us while we took photos, and I took this video.
When we got to Wanganui, we got on a riverboat and steamed up the Whanganui river a bit, then turned around and came back to catch our train home. And all throughout the journey Rumble and his staff trudged up and down our carriage, dispensing champagne and good humour.
The Tarlant Express – travelling in style.