No sign of a train once we got there, however, and a call to Tranzrail's free telephone number revealed that our train was to be replaced by a bus between Auckland and National Park. This did not strike me as a particularly auspicious start to the journey. Eventually we got under way and stopped at Huntly and Hamilton, where we got off to have a drink and stretch our legs while the bus went to refuel. Matthew was asleep when we got off, but awake and not too happy about it by the time got back on. Time passed and people slept and just past 2 o'clock we arrived at National Park. We waited while our luggage was trans-shipped and then it was time to board. There appeared to be more passengers than seats and some full and frank exchanges of views took place before all the passengers were seated reasonably peaceably. (Check spelling.) A rugby team was in coach U and an announcement soon after we departed, requesting them not to consume any more alcohol as this contravened the licence brought smiles to most passengers. My favourite comment of the whole journey was
The journey continued reasonably until just after Palmerston North (I presume) and we seemed to be making reasonable time through flooded fields. I don't know why we stopped at Shannon. We stopped at every signal between Palmerston North and just south of Otaki, howvere, for the driver to wind the signals by hand. This resulted in us arriving in Wellington tired at just after nine o'clock in the morning, meaning that both trains had been late by just about one hour forty minutes. It is good to see consistency in a company. I admire that.
No sign of cellphones at the station though. They suggested that I call back between 3:30 and 4:30 while the main Lost Property Office is open. One hour? Are you kidding? What New Zealand needs is somebody who can make the trains run on time...perhaps not. We got back to Taita station with no problem and on returning home everything seemed in reasonable order and the same number of cats were here as had been when we left.