Dave Rowe joined Goldfields Railway at top speed when he first moved to Waihi.
He had been ''itching'' to get on the railways since he was a young kid.
''It's in the blood, my dad was a shunter in Thames. If we went anywhere, we got free travel.''
Dave, 79, is the last active founding member of the Goldfields Railway Society group. He still drives the train twice a week and tinkers in the shed.
Dave has fond childhood memories of travelling overnight from Thames to Palmerston North by train.
''They used to change the engine at different places and everyone would run to look.
''That's where it all began.''
Dave moved to Waihi in 1979 and worked as postmaster at the post office. He rushed to join the team of young train enthusiasts forming the society.
The society began as a group of guys who wanted to play trains, Dave says, but they were also keen to preserve the site so closely tied to Waihi's historic mining era. They saw potential for the site.
''We had a lot of carriages and stuff, we had a lot of cleaning up to do. It was up to us what we wanted to do with it,'' Dave says.
They had one locomotive, the A&G Price built in 1942.
''It's still here, it still goes and we still use it. It does one trip, one carriage, one loco. That's all we could do.''
The A&G is not an easy drive, either. Dave jokes that drivers can lose up to three kilograms each way driving the old train to Waikino and back.
Dave recalls the first thing the society wanted to do was to keep the line open between Waihi and Paeroa. But the Waikato storm of April, 1981 hit and killed that idea. The line was washed out and a big clean-up ensued.
They sure had their trials and tribulations, Dave says. He's proud of what they've achieved as a fully operational historic site.
Standout memories for Dave include when the iconic 1980s fundraiser Telethon came to visit Goldfields and they ran the train day and night, the 1981 flood, and the arrival of the Peckett and Sons steam loco.
''Drivers had to be steam certified. They taught me everything, how to fire it up and put coal in it.''
Dave enjoys the station camaraderie and has no plans to give up his hobby.
''When you retire ... if you sit down and do nothing, that's when things start falling apart.''