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All aboard . . . Passengers enjoy a ride on Sunday on a historic 1878 D16 steam locomotive, which was brought to Oamaru from Pleasant Point by the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society. PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS

Hundreds of people took up a rare opportunity to enjoy a ride on a historic steam locomotive in Oamaru at the weekend.

More than 300 passengers boarded a 139-year-old D16 steam locomotive for a short jaunt from Harbourside Station, in Itchen St, to the Oamaru Penguin Colony, the usual route of the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society’s diesel train.

The society brought the D16 to Oamaru from Pleasant Point, where it operates throughout the year, via truck.

It was filmed last Wednesday as part of a segment for television show Coast New Zealand, hosted by Neil Oliver, who was also in town for the shoot.

Oamaru Steam and Rail Society general manager Harry Andrew said Sunday’s seven trips had gone down well with the public and he was delighted he was able to secure the locomotive.

“They rang up and asked if ours was going. It wasn’t .. but I said I could find one for you.”

The locomotive was built in 1878 by Scottish locomotive manufacturer Neilson and Company, of Glasgow.

After being shipped to New Zealand, the engine worked in various South Island locations on the New Zealand Railways system, from Christchurch to Bluff, along with stints in Timaru, Oamaru and Gore.

In September 1918, it was bought by the New Zealand Refrigerating Company (later Waitaki International Limited) for use as a shunter at the Pukeuri freezing works, north of Oamaru, before it was retired in the early 1970s.

In 1985, it was donated to Pleasant Point Museum and Railway on the condition it was restored to full working order.

Mr Andrew hoped to bring it back to Oamaru in the future.