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Diary 1

Monday, August 12, 2019
Field Trip Name: 
Rail Safety
Field Trip Place: 
Wet and cold!

Kia ora koutou,

We all rely on being able to travel easily and safely. During this field trip you will look at rail transport and the role we all play in keeping our rail network safe. This field trip is especially important to me because my dad was a train driver for 42 years. His greatest fear was that he would be involved in an accident at a level crossing. Thankfully he never was but many train drivers are not so lucky. People forget that trains can’t stop or avoid obstacles and every year there are accidents. This is Rail Safety Week and the perfect time to learn how to stay safe around trains.

You only have a few days to complete your field trip, so you had to fly to Wellington. In the past people may have taken a train and then a ferry. Train travel used to be very popular but now more people travel by car and plane. With increasing traffic on our roads and pollution from cars, rail could help us travel more sustainably in the future.

Not the easiest country to travel through

You drove south of Dunedin to reach the airport and had plenty of time to think about travel options. Imagine how much easier it would be if you could jump on a train rather than having to drive to the airport and then pay for parking. Thankfully the wild winter weather has passed, and it was a near perfect day for flying. You had a window seat and enjoyed views out over the mountains that shone under a thick layer of fresh snow. It made me want to go skiing. Looking out over this rugged landscape I realised how challenging it must have been to build roads and railway lines. Like our roads, our rail network runs the length of the country. There are 150 tunnels, totalling 80 kilometres in length. As well as these tunnels, clever engineering and hundreds of bridges allow trains to travel through some tough terrain. The first railway lines in New Zealand were built in the 1860s in the South Island. The main trunk line was finished in 1879 and back then it took 11 hours to travel from Dunedin to Christchurch!

Welcome to Wellington

The flight to Wellington only takes about an hour in a jet and before you knew it you were descending through thick cloud over Cook Strait. You caught a glimpse of the Interisland ferry through the cloud. These ferries carry whole freight trains and bridge the gap between the North and South Island. The pilot approached Wellington from the north and there wasn’t much of a view. Wellington greeted you with rain rather than wind. Wellington is one of my favourite cities and I’m looking forward to exploring more of it by rail. After collecting your luggage, you headed into the city where you will be staying for the rest of the week.

Travelling around Wellington

Despite the rain you still managed to head out for a walk around the waterfront. There is always heaps to do and see in Wellington. Walking around the city made me think about the choices we make about how we travel. It seems that lots of people in this city walk and the streets were crowded with people. People can also travel by train. Passenger train services in Wellington move about 25 thousand people around the city every day.

Trains travel through most communities in New Zealand. So even if you don’t travel by train, you still need to know how to stay safe around trains. Throughout this week you will find out more about how you can help keep our rail network safe.

See you at the train station tomorrow,

Shelley the LEARNZ field trip teacher.

The wild weather over the weekend left a fresh layer of snow on the hills north of Dunedin. Image: LEARNZ.

Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, the Southern Alps looked spectacular smothered in snow. LEARNZ.

Cloud drifted in as you flew north over the Kaikōura Ranges. Image: LEARNZ.

It was a wet day to explore Wellington today. Image: LEARNZ.

Te Papa museum is a fantastic place to visit, especially when it's raining. Image: LEARNZ.

A stroll around the waterfront gave you a great view of the city and a chance to see some local art. Image: LEARNZ.

No trip to the capital city is complete without a look around the Parliament Buildings. Image: LEARNZ.

Tomorrow you will start the day at Wellington's Central Railway Station. Image: LEARNZ.