On 7 August 1908, the first train ever to travel the length of New Zealand’s North Island Main Trunk Line left Wellington, bound for Auckland. Three months later, the route was officially opened. This was the culmination of 23 years of backbreaking work in some of the country’s toughest terrain. In 2008, we celebrated the Line’s centenary, its important role in New Zealand’s economic and social development and its enduring place in our contemporary world.
Almost 700 kilometres long, the North Island Main Trunk Line railway journey originally took more than 20 hours but it proved an unbeatable alternative to a long, uncomfortable sea voyage or a challenging stagecoach or car trip on primitive roads. For decades the Line was the mode of choice for everyone from politicians and Governors-General to royal visitors, business-people, public servants, entertainers, sports teams, soldiers bound for war, local holidaymakers and overseas tourists.
Tracking Progress Through the Century
The North Island Main Trunk Line was a shining symbol of progress, introducing a golden age of rail transport in the first half of the 20th century. The five stamps in this series tracked its progress from 1908 until today, providing a fitting tribute to a development that fuelled economic development and population growth in the North Island, and confirmed Auckland and Wellington as the country’s leading cities.
New Zealand Post was delighted to celebrate the centenary with a first day cover and presentation pack that captured the magic and the majesty of this engineering marvel. The presentation pack was extra special, featuring not only the stamps but also a copy of a 1910 Timetable and a ticket for the 1908 ‘Parliament Special' - the first-ever train trip to travel the main trunk line, which ferried politicians north to meet the United States Navy’s visiting Great White Fleet.
The Full Story
Whether you’re a rail enthusiast, a historian or a philatelic connoisseur, you would have been fascinated by the North Island Main Trunk Line limited edition. If you acquired one of these prestigious, individually numbered packs (of which only 2,000 are produced) and you would have the complete stamp set as well as a numbered miniature sheet exclusive to this limited edition, colour separations, a special first day cover signed by Cam Moore, Chair, ONTRACK and a booklet with comprehensive commentary from Reid McNaught, Features Editor of New Zealand Railfan magazine.
Product Listing for North Island Main Trunk Line Centenary
Click on image to enlarge.
|Date of issue:||3 September 2008|
|Denominations:||50c, $1.00, $1.50, $2.00, $2.50|
|Stamps and first day cover designed by:||Communications Arts, Wellington, New Zealand|
|Printer and process:||Southern Colour Print Ltd - by offset lithography|
|Number of colours:||Four process colours|
|Stamp size and format:||40mm x 30mm (horizontal)|
|Paper type:||Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||25|
|Perforation gauge:||13.33 x 13.60|
|Special blocks:||Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps for a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 2 September 2009.|