The early beginnings of railways in New Zealand took place, starting around 1864, due to the efforts of some private finance and the Provincial Governments of the era, each of which had differing
requirements and were autonomous to proceed in their chosen direction. This led to isolated railways being constructed in Otago and Canterbury, in the South Island, and Auckland, in the North Island.
The South Island lines were gauged at 5ft 3in., 4ft 8-1/2in. and 3ft 6in., while that of the Auckland line, was laid at 3ft 6in. gauge.
Some of these lines never really got past their early stages before financial troubles arose, but others were successful and operated into the 1870's. The Central Government were forced to understand
the requirements for railways throughtout the whole country and so were determined to standardise the future construction. Both North and South Islands are of particularly rugged mountain topography,
which for any projected railways would mean considerable expenses in construction for a small contry not flush with the necessary capital. So it was decided by Central Government, that to manage the
cost of construction, the gauge of track would be more acceptable at 3ft 6in. Legislation was passed to this effect in 1870.
With the introduction of the Public Works Act in 1876, the Department of Public Works was responsible for the construction and operation of New Zealand's railway network from 1876 until 1880,
when operations were transferred to the New Zealand Railways Department. This transfer did not end the PWD's railway operations, as it still operated railway lines when under construction,
sometimes providing revenue services prior to the official transfer of the line to the Railways Department. The PWD owned its own locomotives and rolling stock, some second-hand from the Railways Department,
and it operated some small railway lines that were never transferred to the Railways Department.
Major projects carried out by the Public Works Department
With the introduction of the Public Works Act in 1876, the Department of Public Works was responsible for the construction and operation of New Zealand's railway network from 1876 until 1880, when operations were transferred to the New Zealand Railways Department. This transfer did not end the PWD's railway operations, as it still operated railway lines when under construction, sometimes providing revenue services prior to the official transfer of the line to the Railways Department. The PWD owned its own locomotives and rolling stock, some second-hand from the Railways Department, and it operated some small railway lines that were never transferred to the Railways Department.
Locomotive fleet numbers came into effect in the 1905 financial year. The block of numbers 501 to 550 were reserved by PWD, whilst numbers 1-500 and 551 onward were NZR locomotives. In later years, this agreement with New Zealand Railways Department was given flexibility. From World War 2, PWD used a new system of fleet numbers, with the year of introduction, followed by actual fleet number.Click on the Link for images. Note: some images may not be the actual locomotive, but a typical image of the locomotive class.
Price's first loco built. Scrapped 1917.
Named Kangaroo Used for Greymouth Harbour construction.
#1 - #2 - #3/1875
Three of these locomotives were ordered by PWD for working the tramway between Foxton and Palmerston North.
Named Opossum, Wallaby and Skunk. About 1880, Opossum and Skunk were used for Greymouth Harbour construction,
Wallaby to the Sanson Tramway. Opossum, is now preserved at Shantytown.
Ex NZR C 236 in 1925. Dumped at Te Kuha, 1929.
Recovered 1995, preserved at Westport Railway Preservation Society.
Ex Invercargill Borough Council. Used at Tuatapere for construction of Orawia branch line
Named Edie Ochiltree. Ex NZR. Returned to NZR as F 13 1886-1964.
Preserved at Ferrymead Railway
Heisler geared locomotive. Ex Taupo Totara Timber Co. #8. Scrapped.
Mallet Compound. Ex Taupo Totara Timber Co. #7.
Preserved at Glenbrook Vintage Railway
Heisler geared locomotive. Ex Taupo Totara Timber Co. #9. Scrapped.
Price Type E geared locomotive. c1945 ex Taupo Totara Timber Co. Scrapped 1958.
1933 from Armstrong Whitworth, Tauranga. 1933 to Puponga Coal Co. 2ft gauge.
Boiler on display Rockville Museum.
Built to WF specification for PWD. Sold to NZR, 1909. Renumbered WF467
Ex Westfield Freezing Co. 1926 To Auckland City Council 1927.
Built to WF specification for PWD. Sold to NZR, 1909. Renumbered WF468
New. Written-off 1950s.
Formerly named "Rob Roy", by NZR.
Named Josephine. Ex Dunedin and Port Chalmers Rly. EX NZR.
Preserved at Otago Early Settlers Museum.
To Charming Creek Coal Co. 1931.,
Sold to industry, 1945.
Ex NZR D198 in 1899. Scrapped 1930.
To industry 1931-1972. Preserved at Museum of Transport and Technology.
To industry 1931-1974. Preserved at Shantytown.
To industry 1948-1973. Preserved at Silver Stream Railway.
Ex New Zealand Midland Railway Company No.6
Loaned from NZR. Written off 1899. Scrapped 1915.
Industrial use 1927-1971. Preserved at Silver Stream Railway.
Ex NZR D196 in 1914. Scrapped in 1955.
Last used in the Tangarakau area. No details exist of subsequent sale or disposal.
Perhaps used into mid 1930s. To Lincoln College in 1950s
Ex NZR R33 in 1917 Single Fairlie Scrapped about 1932.
Ex NZR D145 in 1919. Scrapped in 1955.
To Christchurch Gas Works 1942. Converted to Petrol-Mechanical 1960.
Ex NZR D108 in 1920. Scrapped 1930.
Ex NZR D142 in 1920. Scrapped.
Perhaps used into mid 1930s. To Lincoln College in 1950s
Dumped in Hutt River 1951.
Ex J. McLean & Co. 1916. 2' 6" gauge. Named Arthur's Pass
Bought new. 6.7 ton. To storage 1937-1999.
Preserved at East Coast Museum of Technology, Gisborne.
Bought new. 6.7 ton. To NZR about 1940
Bought new. 9 ton. To Bruce Bay Timber Co. 1935-1945. On display at Bruce Bay.
Bought new. 9 ton. To NZR 1938.
To NZR Ways and Works branch 1940-1954. Preserved Silver Stream Railway.
Written-off 1950s. Dumped at Oaro. Still extant.
Last recorded PWD use at Taneatua, 1927. 1931 To Marton Sash & Door Co. Erua.
To Addison Corporation 1935-1960. Preserved at Oamaru Steam and Rail.
Named Taiko. Written-off 1950s.
To NZR 1933.
Written off after collision with a truck near Oaro 1948.
To New Zealand Army 1947-1962.
Preserved Tokomaru Steam Museum
To To Otago Harbour Board 1951-1960.
Preserved at Ocean Beach Railway
Recorded at Wairoa 1944. To Belmont Laundry, Lower Hutt 1950.
Bought new. To NZR 1945. To industry 1957-1985.
Preserved Museum of Transport and Technology
Bought new. To NZR 1938-1958
Bought new. To NZR 1945-1957.
Retained for parts. Scrapped 1958.
Retained by PWD for parts.
Preserved at McLeans Island by Canterbury Steam Preservation Society.
To W.J. Houston 1936.
Fitted with frames and cab ex-548 in 1940s.
Ex Wellington Farmers Meat Co 1928. To Burkes Creek Colliery 1951-1962.