From Katikati Station to the Raurimu Spiral, the Tauranga Model Railway Club has been recreating classic train journeys for decades.
"Some of the records have got lost over the years with having to move around different premises but at least 40 years the club has been in existence," said club president Michael Oldfield. "We've still got members who joined in 1987."
"A model railway club is a way that people can put together their ideas of things in real life, into a small scale. The skill is to replicate as much as you can, or as close as you can, to what it looks like, so when people look, they say 'yes, that's where I used to live, I can see myself there now'."
Members meet every Tuesday to work on the detailed "scenes" before taking their trains for a spin on Thursdays.
"In real life trains have to run to a certain time, take goods to a certain place and carriages are on certain timetables," said Oldfield.
"That's what we do on Thursday nights as if it was a real life thing and we might have to drop three wagons off, or box vans off at one side, or four logging trucks off at this place and that's what we do. It becomes a timed thing where you have to be there and leave at a certain time as you would normally."
For Bethlehem resident Brian Smith, it's become an obsession.
"I've been into model railways for 20 years but it's always been a lifelong interest. Prior to actually making the models I collected items and kits and had them in the cupboard and kept them there until I had the time to build."
The biggest challenge facing the club is finding a permanent home.
At the moment it leases a building from the Port of Tauranga, but with the port rapidly expanding, the club could be given a month's notice at any time.
"If we could get somewhere on a more permanent basis then we could open it up and even have classes from schools come and people could come and visit us," said Oldfield.
"Here on the second floor, it's very difficult as people get older, to come up and down the stairs and to shift the layouts up and down the stairs. That is our priority, to get somewhere on a solid basis."
Building and adding to the highly detailed tracks keeps the club busy all year round.
"It's taken a couple of years to build," said Andy Ralph from Matua. "We started off with the Katikati side, got that built to a high standard and then we started on the English side. We start with the track, all the electronics and then the scenery."
Thanks to one iconic train, children discover railways early, but Ralph says keeping them interested is the hard part.
"Thomas The Tank Engine - there's no question that series over the years has attracted kids to model railways. Probably they don't stay into it for long and come back to it in later life like we have. Most of our club members are retirees and they've come back into it. When we have our shows, we always run Thomas The Tank Engine and the kids love it."
Besides its annual showcase in Tauranga, the club also takes the trains further afield.
"We also go to the retirement villages and dementia units as it's useful for them to have something they can relate to," said Oldfield.
You can find out more about the club on its website: www.taurangamodelrailwayclub.co.nz
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