50% at time of Booking, balance 30 days prior to tour date
October is a fantastic time to travel – the weather is warm & settled; the skies are blue, and the spring animals are abounding in the fields. Climb on board with us and take an adventure down a long “Forgotten Highway” – let me take care of all the details – you sit back and enjoy some fellowship, some fun, much laughter, sightseeing and fine dining – just to name a few things to enjoy.
Come and explore a Forgotten World of back country New Zealand. The highlight of this tour is driving your own rail kart along the forgotten railway, then climbing onboard a jetboat on the Whanganui river to Taumaranui – with an added option of a helicopter flight to the Bridge to Nowhere.
We depart and head for Waitomo, taking a scenic route through Horahora district, make our first stop at Rhubarb Café in Arapuni for afternoon tea before crossing the Arapuni dam enroute to Waitomo. We enter the underground of Waitomo Glow-worm Caves – walk through the cathedral, burst into song if you so desire as the acoustics are incredible, enjoy the stunning limestone cave formations before going deeper to the lower level, where you will be amazed by the thousands of tiny creatures on the cave ceiling radiating their luminescent lights in this subterranean world. Hop into your little boat and glide along silently through the starry wonderland of the Glow-worm Grotto. Experience the serene ambience as you enter this galaxy unique to New Zealand. All too soon the ride is over, and it is on to Roseland’s Waitomo Farm & Gardens for a kiwi style lunch in a relaxed atmosphere with amazing views. After lunch sit back, relax, enjoy the scenery or even a little snooze as we leisurely drive to New Plymouth – we will make a brief stop to rub Colin Meads boot in Te Kuiti, travel on through Piopio and its dramatic landscapes, maybe stop for one of their berry delicious ice-creams, meet the west coast at Awakino and view all the whitebait stands, we make a brief stop at Mokau before traversing Mount Messenger, then its arrival time in New Plymouth with check in at our accommodation venue The Devon Hotel.
Free time for the rest of the day. You may wish to take a brief walk along the coastline under the Wind Wand to appreciate Taranaki sculptures. Then its dinner time – and there is a wow surprise awaiting here
Overnight in New Plymouth (Am Tea, L, D)
This morning we explore New Plymouth. Take a guided short walking tour around the inner city ending at Puke Ariki Museum, where you get some time to peruse at your own pace. Then it’s on to visit a garden or two as it is Rhododendron festival time, albeit we are a day early. Enjoy lunch at a garden café before continuing our travels to Whangamomona. We arrive at Douglas, a community which is still beautiful with vivid green dairy farming pastures, and this is where you board your rail-karts and from here you continue your journey by rail. Your very own rail kart is petrol driven, has a maximum speed of up to 20kms per hour and you have total control over accelerator and braking. Your karts can take 2, 4, or 6 passengers. Your tour is guided, travelling over 40kms of rail from Douglas to the Republic of Whangamomona. Your tour guide will control the trail ride with many stops along the way to enjoy the local history, scenery and tales of a bygone era. He will unlock the secrets of the land as you wind your way through the changing landscapes, through the tunnels and over the many bridges to the rugged hills which frame the republic of Whangamomona. Tonight, you will be hosted and enjoy old style NZ hotel accommodation and country hospitality. It’s a truly unique experience like no other.
Overnight in Whangamomona Hotel (B,L, D)
This morning is a relatively early start as you are going Rail Cruising. Nestled within the deep hidden valleys of New Zealand’s Forgotten World, Rail Karts are the ultimate way to explore this area of rural New Zealand. Travel along decommissioned railway lines, through tunnels, over bridges and rivers and to townships that time forgot. Experience the Forgotten World from the comfort of your rail-kart, cleverly adapted to be self-driven along the railway tracks. There are plenty of photo opportunities and toilet stops along the way while taking in ever-changing vistas on your guided rail tour. As you travel through magnificent expanses of sub- tropical rainforest and untamed native bush, take some time to reflect on the tenacity of those travelled this way before you, including the hundreds of workers who cut through this difficult terrain using pick axes, shovels and horse & carts, who took more than 30 years to complete this rail line which includes 24 tunnels & 91 bridges. The Forgotten World is home to ancient Maori trade routes and pioneering farm tracks. This rail line became the catalyst to opening the territory for European settlement. We will meet you for lunch then it’s off to enjoy a scenic jetboat ride on the mighty Whanganui River, with your destination being Cherry Grove in Taumaranui at approx. 4pm.
Again – we meet you with the bus and transport you to our accommodation place of the evening – the elegant Chateau Tongariro, where you may recline for the evening in style. You will relax a while, meet for pre-dinner drinks, listen to the piano man play, then dine in style. Old world charm, sophisticated but relaxed is how I describe this grand old lady. She is my favourite accommodation place in NZ. Located within Whakapapa Village – in the heart of Tongariro National Park and was constructed during the ‘roaring twenties’ but it was also the year which was the beginning of the world’s great depression, 1929. The Hotel is surrounded by a stunning natural playground bursting with diverse landscapes for visitors to the National Park to discover.
An Alternative Option is available for this day (additional cost for this option will apply – $610.00p/p).
For those who wish to be more adventurous and see more of the countryside – we have the opportunity to offer you a helicopter ride from Whangamomona hotel to Bridge to Nowhere which makes it very easy to access rather than hop on a pushbike or pull on your tramping boots. Deep in Whanganui National Park, is a bridge that some visit, but few have crossed. Beautiful in its decay, and almost eerily quiet. Except perhaps for native birdsong and the soft splash of water carving its course below. However, to do this, you will need to forgo your 2nd rail-kart ride opportunity to take this option, but your river excursion will be much longer.
Departing from the rear of the Whangamomona hotel your flight will offer sensational views, the helicopter will land, and you have just a short 30-minute easy walk through the spectacular Whanganui National Park to the Bridge to Nowhere. Morning tea is served at the bridge, then you meander your way down to the river to hop into your jetboat at the Mangaparua landing to continue your journey through to Taumaranui. Your jetboat will take you upstream and back in time, to an age of steamboats, pioneers and Maori villages passing by rolling King Country farmland. You will have many stops along the journey to hear the local stories, with a riverside lunch served at John Coull Hutt. You’ll be seeing the Whanganui River from a whole new perspective as you journey through to the Cherry Grove in Taumarunui, arriving at approx. 4pm.
Overnight in Chateau. (B, L, D)
Today, sadly we depart for home – but take time to enjoy your beautiful surroundings of one of New Zealand’s treasures. The Chateau Hotel management believe in preserving the history and tradition of this unique area. Their location within a Dual World Heritage National Park ensures they are advocates for conservation and uphold a meaningful relationship with local Maori. They acknowledge traditional iwi custodians of this land so before departing we visit the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre to learn more about the natural and cultural values of the park by watching a short audio visual. Then we will take you up the Top of the Bruce to enjoy the spectacular views.
The remainder of your journey today will take us through, Taupo and Rotorua, with frequent stops on the way.