When mentioning New Zealand the first things that come to mind tend to be rugby, the kiwi bird and the setting of Lord of the Rings.
However, this country off the coast of Australia also holds a passion for steam engines with people from all over the nation enjoying a trip down memory lane when these type of trains patrolled the rails. The UK is often regarded as the birthplace of the modern railway network and these traits have been carried over to the southern hemisphere with both Australia and New Zealand having a number of communities dedicated to the preservation of the country's steam rail networks.
This April there will be a special event taking place as the Canterbury Steam Preservation Society of New Zealand hosts a Steam Extravaganza. Scheduled for the 12th and 13th of April it will be situated on the outskirts of Christchurch and will celebrate the very best steam engines that the country has produced. The event is an absolute must for New Zealand's steam community and would be a great trip if holidaymakers happen to be there at the time.
It does not stop there however as the following weekend sees the South Canterbury Traction Engine Club celebrate its 50th birthday. Coinciding with the Easter holiday the community event will have a strong focus on steam and vintage farm vintage on the edge of Timaru. Again it highlights the rich tradition that New Zealand has when it comes to their steam vehicles. People can purchase tickets for $9 (£4.40) per person or family tickets are available for $18.
The traction engine weekend is sure be a treat for steam enthusiasts with the day also including an evening dinner which people can enjoy surrounding by some of the iconic engines that have graced the land over the past few decades. Community members are set to travel from all over the country to be in attendance and share with visitors their experiences of these machines.
John and Sam Hawkins will bring their Burrell engines to the event alongside members of the Southbrook Traction Engine Club. The couple have been supportive of the organisation's construction of a Sawmill on the committee's site and will be operating during the open weekend. Gavin Calder will be travelling from the west of the country with brother Malcolm to display their chaff cutter which has been the culmination of three generations hard at work.
For people travelling across New Zealand the steam events are not only a great opportunity to see some of the best steam engines that the country has produced but it also provides a chance to visit the Queenstown area. Steam enthusiasts will also be in for a treat if they venture to this part of the world as they can board the TSS Earnslaw steamship which is celebrating its 100th year of operation this year. The boat will take them on a ride across Lake Wakatipu providing stunning scenic views of New Zealand and could provide the perfect end to a break abroad.