A beautiful and isolated corner of New Zealand will soon be open to travel from a unique perspective – a self-driving rail cart.
Opening on October 13 ready for Labour Weekend explorers, Forgotten World Adventures’ adapted golf carts travel along the disused railway line between Stratford in Taranaki and Okahukura near Taumarunui in the Ruapehu district.
This region, often referred to as the Forgotten World, is a window into New Zealand’s pioneering history with pristine native bush, rugged hills and isolated farms. Trips range from a half-day excursion to two full days covering 140 kilometres and passing through 24 tunnels in open hill country and native bush.
The single-direction journeys can be combined with jet boat returns on the Whanganui River, cycle trail journeys or shuttlebus returns. The tours start at $230 per person and $495 for the Ultimate, which includes an overnight stay in Whangamomona.
The rail carts are two or four-seaters, petrol-driven with a maximum speed of 20kmh, and the driver has full control over acceleration and braking. The journeys are semi-guided, and you can stop and admire the scenery at any time.
Forgotten World Adventures is the brainchild of entrepreneur Ian Balme, who secured a 30-year lease to the line mothballed by KiwiRail in 2009.
“This truly is a journey like no other. It’s a magical part of the country and travelling by rail cart has to be the best way to see it,” he says.
After seeing the runaway success of the Otago Central Rail Trail, Mr Balme is confident his enterprise offers a significant economic opportunity for the region. In little more than a decade, the Otago rail trail has attracted thousands of visitors a year and contributed millions of dollars to local businesses, testament to the strong appeal of rail-based tourism.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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