Railways, Trains and Destinations

This week is National Rail Safety week in both New Zealand and Australia (8 – 14 August 2022).

TrackSAFE Foundation NZ is promoting a superstition that might help keep pedestrians safe at railway crossings:

A superstition we're on board with | KiwiRail

We hope that by “Blowing to the left and right” near railway tracks will be the magic you need to keep you and your friends safe!

James, the red engine, from the Thomas the Tank Engine stories by Rev. W Awdry. Image: Jamie Boorman

Trains, and going on train journeys, have always had a magical quality to them. So many books have been written about trains or with a train journey as a central part of the book – think “Thomas the Tank Engine”,  “The Railway Children”, or the Hogwarts Train in the Harry Potter series. Trains can clatter over high bridges, run underground through long tunnels and can even go at lightning speeds on high-tech electromagnetic tracks.

Train FAQ

What is a Train Spotter?

A Train Spotter is a rail enthusiast that really likes watching trains! They will often write down the numbers of passing trains as a hobby and compare their notes with other enthusiasts. A Train Spotter can also be called A railfan, rail buff or train buff, railway enthusiast or railway buff… or ferroequinologist!

What’s the largest model railway in New Zealand?

The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) has a Main Trunk Line model railway that’s a must see if you’re visiting Auckland. The model showcases the history and engineering feats of the North Island Main Trunk Line; including the Hapuawhenua Viaduct and the twisting Raurimu Spiral. Watch this You Tube clip to see this amazing model in action and learn about the NZ’s incredible railway history.

What is the fastest train in the world?

File:Shanghai maglev train.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsThe fastest train in the world is  Shanghai Maglev. It is a magnetic levitation train (maglev) that operates in the city of Shanghai, China. This 504-foot-long train can fit 574 passengers and roars to life over the tracks at a top speed of 431 km/h – wow!

Can trains crash?

undefinedYes! But they are still considered to be one of the safer forms of transport, ahead of car and motorbike travel. New Zealand’s worst train disaster was the Tangiwai Disaster. At 10.21 p.m. on Christmas Eve 1953 the Wellington–Auckland night express plunged into the flooded Whangaehu River at Tangiwai, in the central North Island, after a lahar from Mt Ruapehua washed away Tangiwai Bridge. Of the 285 passengers and crew on board, 151 died.

New Zealand author David Hill has written a historical novel exploring the environmental tragedy from the perspective of a young person, check it out here.

Let’s take a train journey through the Wellington City Libraries Catalogue:

Trains / Jenner, Elizabeth
“Explore the wonder of the railway and see how train travel has developed through time. Trains are used across the world to transport goods and passengers. They can ride rails underground, move at high-speeds and travel between countries. In this book, you will discover the wonder of the railway and see how train travel has developed through history- from simple mining wagons to high-speed machines and beyond.” (Catalogue)

Thomas the Tank Engine : the complete collection / Awdry, W
“This volume brings together all 26 books from the classic Railway series in one volume, with a foreword by the author. The stories are brought to life with the original illustrations, beautifully restored and reproduced.” (Catalogue)
The railway children / Nesbit, E.
“Family! Friendship! Adventure! Mystery! Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis have their lives turned upside down when their father mysteriously has to go away. The railway becomes the centre of their new life, but little do they know what wonders and changes it will bring to them – maybe even the answer to Father’s disappearance …Oxford Children’s Classics present not only the original and unabridged story of The Railway Children in a beautiful new edition, but also help you to discover a whole world of new adventures with a vast assortment of recommendations and activities. Ages 7+” (Catalogue)

Two little trains / Brown, Margaret Wise
“Two little trains head west, travelling through hills and mountains and over rivers and plains.” (Catalogue)
How trains work / Gifford, Clive
“From the fastest to the longest, the oldest to the newest, through tunnels and up mountains, take a fascinating ride through the world of trains in this brilliant new book from illustrator James Gulliver Hancock.” (Catalogue)

Skimbleshanks / Eliot, T. S.
“We must find him or the train can’t start! All aboard as Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat, stars in the third picture-book pairing from Arthur Robins and T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s cats, set on the Night Mail train where Skimble won’t let anything go wrong.” (Catalogue)
Train / Demarest, Chris L
“The amazing sights of a train ride through the countryside whiz by in this deceptively simple rhyming book. Little listeners will be mesmerized by this rhythmic, rhyming ride-perfect reading for kids on a roll!” (Catalogue)
Night train, night train / Burleigh, Robert
“Told in rhyming text, a train speeds through the night, revealing the sights and colors along the way to its young and sleepy riders.” (Catalogue)
The space train / Powell-Tuck, Maudie
“Jakob has found the long-lost SPACE TRAIN! But it’s old, battered and broken. With the help of Granny and Derek the robot chicken, can Jakob fix the train? A stunning intergalactic adventure, packed with fun flaps and out-of-this world illustrations.” (Catalogue, abridged)
Where’s Thomas? : a Sodor search-and-find adventure
“Sodor is a busy, bustling place with plenty of things for a team of Very Useful Engines to do. Join Thomas and all of his friends as they travel all across the Island and see how many hidden things you can find on each colourful page!” (Catalogue)

7 New Non Fiction to read during August.

Spring into reading with this new selection of junior non fiction about great explorers, animals and the world during the month of August.



Explorers: Amazing Tales Of The World’s Greatest Adventures.

Meet famous explorers and adventurers in this exciting non-fiction storybook for children. Venture into steaming jungles in search of lost temples, fight off frostbite in the Arctic, and blast off into space!

There Are Bugs Everywhere.

There are bugs everywhere! Some of them live in jungles, some of them underwater, and some certainly live in your house. There are Bugs Everywhere is the second in a series of non-fiction books from Britta Teckentrup.

Wild In The Streets: 20 Poems Of City Animals.

A beautifully illustrated book which pairs poetry with non-fiction, telling the fascinating stories of the animals that have found their homes in urban landscapes all over the world.

Save The Gorilla (Animal SOS!).

Gorillas are magnificent creatures of the forest and are loved by many people. So why are they under threat of extinction? Find out all about gorillas, the threats that they face, what is being done to try and save them and how you can help to answer their SOS call.

Weird and Wonderful Animals.

Follow the adventures of an intrepid explorer, and meet some of the world’s most bizarre animals! Did you know there’s a wasp that looks like a panda, a basilisk snake that runs over water, a butterfly with a large skull on its body, and a fish that seems to be wearing lipstick?

image courtesy of syndeticsRebel Dogs! Heroic Tales of Trusty Hounds.

Tail wagging tales of real life Rebel Dogs! Get your paws on the stories and secrets of some of history’s most heroic hounds! An engaging collection packed with over 30 real life dogs, including film stars with fur, hounds that love to help, superstars of science and war heroes; these rebel dogs are the stars of their own stories.

How Trains Work.

How Trains Work takes kids on a fun behind-the-scenes adventure to discover the secrets of train travel. From the earliest steam locomotives to modern super-speedy bullet trains, we peek inside trains, carriages, routes and stations to reveal how they operate and transport people.

Here’s some great new kids fiction to read as Autumn starts to settle in

The warm summer days will be coming to an end, so what a great chance to read these great new fiction choices available through your library!


Image courtesy of SyndeticsUnexpected twist; An Oliver Twisted tale by Michael Rosen

Shona and her dad are moving house, and at Shona’s new school, the rules are pretty confusing; she keeps getting into trouble without realizing! It’s a lot like how it is for Oliver Twist, that boy she’s reading about in English class. After Shona is unexpectedly given a mobile phone, she begins to suspect there’s something fishy about the new boys she’s met. Where did the phone come from? And some gifts, she soon learns, aren’t exactly free…

Image courtesy of SyndeticsInto the Jungle by Matt Forbeck

The Harpers have lost one of their own, a legendary adventurer named Artus Cimber, keeper of the artifact known as the Ring of Winter. They’ve hired you to travel to the jungle-clad land of Chult and find him. If only you can manage it before the frost giants hunting for him do — and before the zombies that infest the lands get you…

Image courtesy of SyndeticsPearl the Proper Unicorn by Sally Odgers

Pearl, Olive and Tweet meet another unicorn! His name is Prince Percy and he is positively perfect in every way! But when mean, smelly gobble-uns take over the pond, can Prince Percy’s perfect magic help them? Or will Pearl’s magic be just what they need?

Image courtesy of SyndeticsThe Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut. Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Ruku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter-and friendship-on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

Image courtesy of SyndeticsThe train to impossible places by P.G Bell

Join the journey to Impossible Places, where there’s magic at every stop… Suzy is surprised to find a grumpy troll building a railway through her house – especially when a gigantic steam train crashes into her hallway! This is the Impossible Postal Express, the trusty delivery service of the Union of Impossible Places, and Suzy becomes its newest recruit. And with her cursed first package, an Impossible adventure begins.–Provided by publisher.

Top 10 Children’s DVDs January 2017

So good to have a movie to watch while we deal with Wellington’s crazy summer weather! kuboSometimes playing in the rain can be lots of fun if you have on your Wellies and a dry towel for afterwards. We
have some great books for those of you that enjoy jumping in puddles 🙂  but back to the movies…

Kubo and the two strings is looking awesome! This movie has stop motion sorcery, tiny puppets moved little bit by little bit to create movie magic. This tale of a young Samurai adventurer facing ice age 5mythic odds will keep you on the edge of your seats! Have you tried making a flip book or using stop motion to create a bit of film?  Let us know in the comments 🙂

  1. My little pony, friendship is magic.
  2. Octonauts.
  3. Zootopia
  4. BFGFireman Sam.
  5. Finding Dory
  6. Peter Rabbit.
  7. The BFG
  8. Ice age.
  9. Kubo and the two strings.
  10. Chuggington




Top 10 Children’s DVDs December 2016

Its summer holidays! But we all know Wellington is tricksy when it comes to beaching weather, so having a couple of DVDs up your sleeve for a wet day is a good plan.

Movies and TV programmes with your favourite characters are a great way to fill in a few hours and inspire imaginative play. Do you have dress ups as your favourite characters?


bananas in pajamas1. Octonauts

2. Fireman Sam

3. Thomas and Friends

4. My Little Pony, friendship is magic

5. Peter Rabbit

6. Bananas in pyjamas

kidsblog27. Zootopia

8. Chuggington

9. Inside Out

10. The Angry Birds Movie


Top 10 Children’s DVDs September 2016

dvd cover

Unpredicatble weather predicted for the school holidays? Set yourself up with some great movies and favourite series incase you get stuck indoors!

The Disney movie Zootopia has placed soooo many different animals together in one city.  Rookie cop, Judy, is the first bunny on the force meeting a huge range of characters that have their own ideas of who Judy is.  The directors of Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph have created a movie that looks at how different people treat each other.  Worth a watch this holidays.

bananas in pajamas1. Octonauts

2. My little pony, friendship is magic

3. Peter Rabbit

4. Zootopia

5. Bananas in pyjamas

6. Fireman Sam

cover image7. Inside out

8. Minions

9. Thomas & friends

10. Strawberry Shortcake

Top 10 Children’s DVDs for November 2015

Beatrix PotterIn at number 9 this week, classics have a revisit with the Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.  Did you know that Beatrix Potter kept pet rabbits? Peter was naturally her favourite, she said he was lazy and slept in a box under a blanket all day – not like the rascal in her books!

Did you know that Fireman Sam was created by real firemen?  Originally recorded in in Welsh as Sam Tân the show has has now been translated into 25 languages. Stop motion animation was used in the first series where puppets and figurines are moved in small stages to create the illusion of movement.  It used to take 4 days to make a minute of Fireman Sam!  Now it’s created by drawing the characters with computer programmes.  There are some great colouring in pages here if you want to draw your own.

Also checkout these great new picture books for Fireman Sam fans.

  1. My little pony, friendship is magic.
  2. Thomas & friends.
  3. Peppa Pig.
  4. Chuggington.
  5. Bananas in pyjamas.
  6. Fireman Sam.
  7. Team Umizoomi.
  8. Legends of Chima.
  9. Peter Rabbit.
  10. Strawberry Shortcake.

4 new children’s non fiction to curb those winter blues

The Oxford Treasury of Fairy Tales.

Relive your favourite fairy tales time and time again by reading this amazing book. Escape into a world of knights and princesses, wicked witches and talking frogs. A must have book!



Planes, Trains and Automobiles: a visual history of modern transportation featuring 100 iconic designs.

Depicts one hundred iconic vehicles and innovative examples from transportation history presented in a timeline that can be read back to front, top to bottom, and right to left. Illustrated in stunning detail by the talented Mike Lemanski, this book beautifully captures the evolution of transportation design in a single shot. Overall this book is fantastic!



Motiti Blue and the oil spill.

This book tells the story  of a little blue penguin named Motiti Blue, who was covered in oil as a result of the oil spill from the Rena shipwreck. Also goes into detail about his rescue, the treatment he had at the Te Maunga Oiled Wildlife Response Unit and his release back into the wild. Overall a very fantastic book jam packed with amazing photos, especially of cute little blue penguins.



Rachel Carson and her book that changed the world.

Retells the story of Rachel Carson, a pioneering environmentalist who wrote and published “Silent Spring,” the revolutionary book pointing out the dangerous effects of chemicals on the living world. A great book to read if you are interested in conservation, biology and marine life

Top 10: DVDs for November

Looking for something to watch? Try one of these, the top 10 most popular DVDs for November. (Actually, just for fun, this month we’ll post the top 24 DVDs – lots to chose from!)

1. Strawberry Shortcake series

2. Dino Dan series

3. Ninjago, masters of Spinjitzu series

4. The cat in the hat knows a lot about that! series

5. My little pony, friendship is magic series

6. Dinosaur train series

7. Thomas & friends series

8. The Garfield show series

9. Babar and the adventures of Badou series

10. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated series

11. Hotel Transylvania

12. Wreck-It Ralph 

13. Escape from planet Earth

14. The little mermaid 

15. Rise of the guardians 

16. Brave

17. Ice age

18. Madagascar

19. Shaun the sheep series

20. Oz the great and powerful

21. The Avengers, Earth’s mightiest heroes! series

22. Arthur Christmas

23. Horrid Henry

24. Room on the broom



Top 10 DVDs for October

I know the weather’s getting nicer, but it’s still fun to curl up inside with a good DVD every so often. Chose one of these – they’re the most popular for October:

1. Dino Dan

2. Strawberry Shortcake

3. Ninjago, masters of Spinjitzu

4. The cat in the hat knows a lot about that!

5. Dinosaur train

6. Thomas & friends

7. The Garfield show

8. My little pony, friendship is magic

9. Babar and the adventures of Badou

10. The Avengers, Earth’s mightiest heroes