'Tiger Tea' bus back soon

It will be all aboard the beloved Tiger Tea bus again for excited youngsters at the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum next week.

Plenty of young noses were pressed longingly to the windows of the distinctively striped trolley bus this week, after the bus exhibit's interior was temporarily closed for a conservation and audiovisual upgrade.

Museum acting visitor experience manager Tim Cornelius said many children often came to the museum's front reception counter, uttered the word "bus" and rushed to the museum's transport gallery to see the bus.

"It's one of our hero objects, along with Josephine."

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum acting visitor experience manager Tim Cornelius with the much-loved...
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum acting visitor experience manager Tim Cornelius with the much-loved Tiger Tea bus, which will return to normal service next week. PHOTOS: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Steam engine Josephine is the museum's rare Double Fairlie locomotive, brought from England to operate on the Dunedin-Port Chalmers railway in 1872.

In recent years, the bus has become an interactive exhibit, and visitors could enter by the rear door and take a seat in the back half of the bus, enjoying the forward journey by watching an audiovisual display on a big television set on a screen partition half way down the bus.

Having many thousands of museum visitors, both young and old, entering the bus over the years meant the seats and interior had been "getting a bit of a hammering", he said.

The audiovisual display inside the Tiger Tea bus.
The audiovisual display inside the Tiger Tea bus.
The new interactive video display, strongly simulating a forward journey, and reviving memories of old times, is four times bigger than the old display.

The old seat padding and coverings are also being replaced by items specially manufactured to match the originals.

The bus, which has been cared for by the museum since 1992, was number 10 in the Dunedin City Transport Department fleet, and began service in 1951, running to Normanby.

It was repainted in the now well-known Tiger Tea colours in 1976.

Retired along with the other remaining Dunedin trolley buses in March 1982, this bus covered 863,939km in its 31 years of service, making it the most travelled of the city's trolley buses.

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