MOTAT and The Great Journeys of New Zealand celebrate the romance of rail


MOTAT’S brand new model railway is now open to the public thanks to the support of The Great Journeys of New Zealand, operated by KiwiRail.

 Over the past few months MOTAT’s expert exhibition developers and modellers have been transforming the interior of the heritage Waitakere Station building into the home of a brand-new model railway.

The new model gives MOTAT’s youngest visitors a chance to explore West Auckland’s rail history and meet some of the characters that rode the rails over the last 100 years. Storybook-style pictures introduce you to the colourful characters hidden within the detailed model.

 The creation and installation of MOTAT’s newest model rail display has been led by exhibition technicians Raoul Darlington and Cole Mendoza. Their brief was to create a backdrop that was inspired by West Auckland history but with the added complication of needing to be installed within an historic building without impacting on the surrounding wall structure in any way.

 “I think we should all feel very proud of the end result” says Mr Mendoza.

 “It’s got all the bells and whistles of a model railway and I think visitors will recognise the West Auckland vibe, but we couldn’t resist taking a bit of creative licence and adding in a few extra surprises which I hope the kids will get a kick out of!”

 KiwiRail’s Head of Tourism and Marketing Ahleen Rayner, says the historic Waitakere train station is the ideal location for the exhibition, as stations are where all train adventures begin.

 “This miniature display offers an experience of our trains and scenery and an invitation to take one of our great journeys and see it for yourself in life-sized form.

 “A member of our engineering team hand painted the AK scenic carriages, to replicate the ones which operate on our Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and the TranzApline train journeys,” says Ms Rayner.

 “Nothing captures the imagination quite like a model railway. All those wee details!” says MOTAT exhibition curator Todd Dixon.

 “I can see the model railway from my office and looking out my window every day you can see how people gravitate to it. It’s definitely not just the kids either, you see plenty of grown-ups leading the way!”

 The new railway is particularly targeted at under 5s with an easy to operate button, and colour coded figurines that bring to life the story of West Auckland and the people who have shaped this area over the years.