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New Zealand railway glossary

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This is a list of jargon commonly used by railfans in New Zealand.


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Tranz Rail Bumble-Bee livery
  • Bobtail: WW class locomotives before rebuilding.


Tranz Rail Cato blue livery, seen on these 2 DC class locomotives



  • Elephant-style: A lashup of multiple locomotives with all units facing forward.
  • 'En and chicken: N and M class steam locomotives coupled together. 'En, an abbreviation of 'hen', refers to the larger N class locomotive, and chicken refers to its underpowered M class assistant.[7]


  • Fiats: NZR RM class 88 seater railcars.[1]
  • Flying Tomato: simpler version of the Fruit Salad livery, with grey replaced with red.
  • Fruit Salad: NZR red and grey livery with yellow highlights, also known as International Orange.[4]
  • Foamer: A railfan, particularly one whose enthusiasm appears excessive.[8]


  • Grass Grubs: 88 seater railcars that were converted to carriages for locomotive haulage. Their name came from their green livery.[2]
  • Gull Roost: the Onerahi Branch's 323-metre-long bridge across the harbour in Whangarei. Named due to the large number of gulls that roosted there. The branch closed in 1933 and the bridge no longer exists.[9]



  • International Orange: livery of yellow, orange/red and grey, more popularly known as "Fruit Salad".[10]




  • Longest xylophone in the world: former road/rail bridge on the now-closed portion of the Ross Branch south of Hokitika, named for the loud rattling its planks made.[14]


Auckland's MAXX Blue livery



  • "Pearson's Dream: E 66, nicknamed after its designer, G. A. Pearson, as it did not fulfill his ambitions.[17]
"Pearson's Dream" just after it was completed in February 1906 DAR 517 in Toll Rail colours
  • Popsicle: 1970s orange and yellow DX class livery (also known as "Clockwork Orange" and "Tropical").
  • Pullet: M class, named for their lack of pulling power in comparison to other classes.[7]



  • The Sergeant: ED electric locomotive 101, so called because of the three stripes on the body.
  • Skippy: Toll-liveried locomotive. Derived from Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, as Toll is an Australian company.


Almost all of the "Toasters" are painted in the International Orange livery


  • Units: electric multiple units.


  • Water bottle: Tank car filled with water, used behind preserved steam locomotives.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d David Jones, Where Railcars Roamed: The Railcars Which Have Served New Zealand Railways (Wellington: Wellington Tramway Museum, 1997), 22.
  2. ^ a b Eric Heath and Bob Stott, Classic Railcars, Electric and Diesel Locomotives of New Zealand: Volume Two (Grantham House: Wellington, 1993), 34.
  3. ^ a b Geoffrey B. Churchman and Tony Hurst, The Railways of New Zealand: A Journey Through History (Auckland: HarperCollins, 1991), 58.
  4. ^ a b Timotheus Frank, "Canterbury Railscene", accessed 26 May 2008.
  5. ^ Department of Conservation, "Awards honour efforts to protect our cultural and natural heritage", published 10 August 2006, accessed 22 January 2008.
  6. ^ Sean Millar, From A to Y Avoiding I: 125 Years of Railway Motive Power Classification in New Zealand (New Zealand: Sean Millar, 2001), 35.
  7. ^ a b Churchman and Hurst, The Railways of New Zealand, 144.
  8. ^ Marcus Lush, "The Grand Finale", Off the Rails: A Love Story (New Zealand: Television New Zealand and Jam TV, 2005), DVD.
  9. ^ Churchman and Hurst, The Railways of New Zealand, 100.
  10. ^ Churchman and Hurst, The Railways of New Zealand, 70.
  11. ^ Churchman and Hurst, The Railways of New Zealand (Auckland: HarperCollins, 1991), 22.
  12. ^ Churchman and Hurst, The Railways of New Zealand, 189.
  13. ^ New Zealand Film Unit, KB Country, 1968.
  14. ^ Churchman and Hurst, The Railways of New Zealand, 193.
  15. ^ J. D. Mahoney, Kings of the Iron Road: Steam Passenger Trains of New Zealand (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1982), 105.
  16. ^ Heath and Stott, Classic Railcars, Electric and Diesel Locomotives, 20.
  17. ^ W. N. Cameron, Rimutaka Incline: Extracts from "A Line of Railway" (Wellington: New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society, 1992), 83.
  18. ^ Churchman and Hurst, The Railways of New Zealand, 179.
  19. ^ Jones, Where Railcars Roamed, 13.
  20. ^ Jones, Where Railcars Roamed, 14.
  21. ^ Tony Hurst, Farewell to Steam: Four Decades of Change on New Zealand Railways (Auckland: HarperCollins, 1995), 81.


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Published - March 2009

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