At MOTAT, take a ride on working trams that originally operated in New Zealand and Australian cities between our two sites.

The development of horse drawn, then electric tramways in Auckland and elsewhere allowed suburban development. Tram routes radiated out from the central city, often through farmland, connecting isolated boroughs, which led to infill housing and citizens no longer limited in occupation or leisure by how far they could walk. The system was over 70km in length at its height in the 1930s and 1940s. The electric tramway in Auckland was initially a public/private venture by the British Electric Traction Company in London and the Auckland Borough Councils, eventually taken over by the Auckland City Corporation in 1919 and operated until 1956. Replaced by diesel and trolleybuses as a “modernisation programme” post World War 2, which saw street tramways fall out of favour.

The Western Springs Tramway operated by MOTAT carries over 200,000 people a year between the MOTAT Great North Road and MOTAT Meola Road sites.

The Tramway Collection includes 23 trams, a dozen of which are restored and operational. These include a Steam tram and a double-decker formally from Wellington (operated on Third Sunday MOTAT Live days subject to weather). Also in the collection is a selection of trolleybuses and a variety of service vehicles, support equipment other items from tram tickets to uniforms.

Read more about visiting during our Workshop Open Days.

Current restoration projects include:

  • Wanganui Trailer No.21

MOTAT volunteers are rebuilding Wanganui trailer No.21, which will towed behind the Wanganui Steam Tram No.100 or Wanganui Electric Tram No.10, for which it was originally designed. Steam tram No.100 last towed trailers at the closing ceremony for the Wanganui tramway in September 1950.

MOTAT Tramway History

The tramway collection at MOTAT represents over 100 years of urban transport in New Zealand.  From 1957, the Old Time Transport Preservation League began to assemble a collection of trams, starting with Auckland tram No. 253, to preserve transport heritage for generations to come.

With the establishment of MOTAT in 1964, the vision of an operating tramway was realised and operation began on 16 December 1967 over the first length of track (inside the museum grounds from the Pumphouse).  A 1.1km line along the Park boundary to the Auckland Zoo opened in 1981 and in May 2007, MOTAT completed the construction of a 900m extension to the MOTAT Meola Road site.

Since 1967 MOTAT visitors have made over 4 million passenger trips on the tramway, and in 2007 the Museum tramway was extended offering visitors a transportation service between the two Museum sites. 

List of MOTAT Tramway Collection

New Zealand Trams

  • Auckland Trams Horse (1884–1902) Electric (1902–1956):
  • No.11 (1902) ‘Combo' - Brush Electrical Engineering Co Ltd, England, built 19 combination (open/saloon) cars. No.11 was first of the original 43 Brush ‘kitset' tramcars erected at Ponsonby Depot. 1902-12. Restored.
  • No.17 (1902) ‘Double Decker'. Brush built the six cars as part of the first order. In 1923, the Tramways converted them to a single deck before their withdrawal in 1948. The body is in storage, but is a restoration priority.
  • No 44 (1906) 'Dinghy'. Similar to the eighteen 1902 Brush single-saloon cars on 4-wheel 21E trucks, but built by Auckland Electric Tramways Co at Ponsonby. Restored.
  • Nos.89, 91 & 147 (1908-12) M Class. The M Class was Auckland's most numerous type (99 built) running until the early 1950s.
  • No.203 (1926) ‘Semi-Steel'. The striking ‘art deco' appearance of these trams, combined with innovative structural design, represents a significant milestone in Auckland's fleet. Designed and built in Auckland No. 203 is currently in storage awaiting total reconstruction.
  • Nos. 248 (1938) & 253 (1940) ‘Streamliner'. The last type of Auckland tram, built by the Auckland Transport Board at the Manukau Road workshops. 248 Restored
  • Wellington Trams Steam (1878–1882) Horse (1882–1904) Electric (1904–1964):
  • No. 47 (1906) 'Big Ben'. Built by Rouse, Black & Son of Wellington, No. 47 is the sole survivor of six bogie double-deckers. Restored.
  • No.135 (1921) ‘Double Saloon'. Built by WCCT at Kilbirnie workshops, No. 135 is one of 69 of the type. Withdrawn in 1957. Restored
  • Nos. 244 (1939) ‘Fiducia'. WCCT built the Fiducia style to function as modern ‘one-man' cars, although they were rarely used without a conductor. The upholstered seats and bus-type windows were popular.
  • No. 252 (1940) ‘Fiducia'. Same as No. 244 above. No.252 was the last ‘first generation' tram to run in NZ streets in a ceremonial parade on 2 May 1964. It is also currently in storage awaiting major restoration.
  • No. 257 (1950) ‘Fiducia'. WWII delayed completion of the last four Fiducias (257-60). Post-war materials available caused minor modifications to the design, but other details are as for Nos.244 and 252. Restored.
  • No. 301 (1911) Freight Car. One of two built for a parcels service in central Wellington and suburbs, originally numbered 200 but re-numbered as the passenger tram numbers rose. Operable.
  • Wanganui Trams (1908–1950). 
  • No.10 (1912) California Combination. Built by Boon & Co., Christchurch No. 10 remained in service until closure of the system in 1950.
  •  No.21 (1921) Toastrack Trailer. Built by Boon & Co., Christchurch and towed behind the electric trams. Unmotored 4-wheel Brill 21E truck. No. 21 is currently under restoration.
  • No.100 (1891) 0-4-0 Steam-Tram Motor. Built by the Baldwin Locomotive works, Philadelphia, for the New South Wales Government Tramways, Sydney, Australia and brought to Wanganui in 1910. Restored.
  • Napier 3ft-6in gauge Brush 21E truck is the sole surviving tram remnant from the Napier Tram System. The tram system was prematurely closed due the Napier / Hawkes Bay Earthquake Tuesday 3rd February 1931.
  • Mornington Cable Trams, Dunedin (1883–1957):
  • No.4 (later No.107) (1883) Cable Car Trailer. Built by Jones Car Co., New York, No. 4 entered service after being shipped from New York in 1883. It is the only survivor of a disastrous 1903 fire, which destroyed all other rolling stock of the Mornington Tramway Co. Body Restored.

Australian Trams

  • Melbourne Trams Cable (1885–1940) Electric (1906–present):
  • No. 3 (1920) "Essanne" Rotational Rail Grinder. Originally, designated Sydney No.2 (1920), it later became Melbourne No.3 (1958) on conversion by M&MTB to its current design with enclosed cab. Restored.
  • No. 321 (1925) W2 Class. Built by Holden, Adelaide, South Australia, for the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board as a W class, all of this class later (1928-33) converted to W2 form with three entrances on each side Restored.
  • No. 893 (1944) & 906 (1945) SW6 Class. Built by the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board's Preston Workshops, it was fitted with metal window frames and Motorman controlled, pneumatically operated sliding doors. Operational.
  • No.1032 (1956) W7 Class. One of 40 W7 design trams, the last tram design to be built in Melbourne until the 1970s. Ansair, a division of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd, built the body frames, which the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board then mechanically fitted out and finished at their Preston Workshops. Operational.


*Please note that only selected collection items are on display. Please view our Exhibitions section to find out more about current displays.