Newlyweds Martin Kohn and Shawn Finlay, formerly of Sydney,
are the first gay couple to be married on the Kingston
Flyer. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
The Kingston Flyer can still surprise as on Saturday the
historic steam train hosted its first civil union marriage, in
Sydney couple Shawn Finlay (40) and Martin Kohn (54)arrived
in Kingston two years ago to celebrate a family member's
wedding and fell in love with the place and its people, they
A year later, the couple moved into a small home on Churchill
St and on Saturday they made use of New Zealand's Civil Union
Act and married at the lakefront of Wakatipu.
''Shawn decided he belonged here and I agreed,'' Mr Kohn
''He had one of those moments of clarity.''
The couple met nine years ago in Sydney and said they would
have married much earlier, had Australian law allowed it.
Mr Finlay said he would like the Australian Government to
learn from New Zealand with the introduction of the civil
union, but his home country was slow on the uptake on the
''It'll happen one day. I hope so, but I don't really have
much hope for the Australian Government, in general.''
Since moving to Kingston, the couple agree the community has
been very accepting and they have quickly become well-known
''Everyone's really accepting here. We're just a normal
''You have to wave to everybody here, I love it. You don't
get that in Sydney. It's kind of rural here and it is a lot
different to being in the hustle and bustle of Queenstown,''
Mr Finlay said.
This has suited his partner down the ground, as Mr Kohn's
passion is for the outdoors and mountain biking, which they
both plan to do more of.
The couple still run and work for separate design businesses
in Sydney and say the time differences means a late morning
start of about 11.30 for work.
They have recently finished refurbishment of their home and
have plans to live in Kingston for a long time yet, Mr Finlay
They decided the town's icon, the Kingston Flyer, was the
best venue for their their wedding lunch and pre-drinks
because they wanted to fully immerse themselves in the local
''It's part of Kingston, really. It is really embracing a big
part of where we live,'' Mr Finlay said.
The train was decked out with champagne glasses, a bar,
lavender ribbons on the doorways and tinsel throughout for
the big occasion, with a modest guest list of 49.