Children's Recreational Support trust (Crest) president Arthur Linnell watches another trainload of happy passengers cruise through the Dunedin Botanic Garden on the train. Crest is celebrating 20 years of taking tours around the garden. Photo by Dan Hutchinson.
It has been 20 years since a distinctive blue train first
started ''tooting'' and rattling around the Dunedin Botanic
The Children's Recreational Support Trust (Crest) train was
the brainchild of its president Arthur Linnell and two
''We had a discussion about forming a charitable trust and
within 12 months we had enough to buy the tractor and
train,'' Mr Linnell said.
The first day of operation was on the same day as the Lions
Lark in the Park in February, 1993.
Last month, the Crest train carried its 100,000th passenger
and Mr Linnell said the organisation had given out more than
$30,000 in grants to organisations involved in health and for
children to attend camps and do other activities their
parents could otherwise not afford.
He said Crest was quite an unusual charity in that it
provided a service to the community and then used the money
raised to benefit more people.
''The train is an important part of the gardens now.''
The Crest train has never been able to operate in the upper
gardens because the bridges are too narrow.
To get around that problem the trust bought a narrower,
electric-powered vehicle - the Shuttlebug - that could cross
the bridges and access the higher part of the gardens.
Mr Linnell said that had opened up the gardens to a whole new
group of people who had not been mobile enough to walk the
steeper sections of the gardens.
''For some people it is the only way they can get around the
He said the volunteers who drove the Shuttlebug and the Crest
train did not see it as a job.
''We would not do it if we didn't like it.''
The trust was ''100% self-supporting'' and had always enjoyed
a good relationship with the garden management over the
years, Mr Linnell said.
- by Dan Hutchinson