Great North Island Rail Adventure - 10 Day Rail Tour

10 Day Rail Tour - Departing Auckland & Hamilton | 2 - 11 April 2024

Join the Glenbrook Vintage Railway as we experience some of the best of the North Island's scenic railways!

Our tour navigates the centre and western parts of the North Island, all by exclusive heritage tour train! Travel on freight-only lines, through wooded forests, mountainous terrain and rolling farmland. We start by travelling south-east to Tokoroa, then by road to Rotorua, where we explore the abandoned Rotorua Branch Line. We circle back to Hamilton and reboard our train, now travelling south, to Taumarunui - famous for its rail heritage. The mothballed Stratford - Okahukura Line, now Forgotten World Adventures takes us 142km over 2 days. We overnight in the Republic of Whangamomona - a character filled township - before continuing on to New Plymouth. We meet our train again and travel around Mt. Taranaki, through towns like Inglewood, Patea, Waverley, Whanganui and Marton before arriving at Palmerston North. We head north for Ohakune, but not before a trip through the Manawatu Gorge, now only accessible by rail. Our tour train takes us up to the central plateau - a journey of ever changing beauty and which can only be experienced by rail. Finally we cross the mighty viaducts between Ohakune and National Park, passing 'Smash Palace'/Horopito. After National Park we start descending the famous Raurimu Spiral - steeped in history - before joining the Whanganui River and arriving in to Taumarunui. We pass through the Poro-O-Tarao tunnel and again join the rolling farmlands of the Waikato and King Country. 

We arrive back in Hamilton/Auckland having seen some of the jewels in the crown of the North Island - often understated for its beauty.

Travel with the Glenbrook Vintage Railway on this Great North Island Rail Adventure - experience the romance of rail travel. 

Rail Tour Highlights

Rail Cruisers

An extraordinary experience totally unique to New Zealand. The Rail Cruising journey is the world’s first fully automated, state of the art petrol-electric four seat self-drive hybrid Rail Cruiser. Cruise along the Rotorua Railway Line in our Rail Cruiser with comfortable seats, unobstructed views and listen to the history of Mamaku, Rotorua and the Railway.

Redwoods Tree Walk

Majestic and magical, the Redwoods Treewalk™ experience is truly a walk to remember. Suspended high above the forest floor, encounter 75-metre-tall redwoods as you walk across eco-suspended bridges and platforms intricately designed to honour and accentuate the stunning natural environment. Regarded by many as one of the best tree top walks in New Zealand.


Experience the real Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Your guided tour starts with a drive through our picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Take a look at Bag End, where Frodo and Bilbo’s adventures began. Get lost among the hobbit holes and visit the Green Dragon Inn, the mill and the Party Tree. Listen to spell-binding tales of how Hobbiton came to be.

Forgotten World Adventures

Unplugged yet still on the line as you travel the entire Forgotten World Railway on this two-day Rail Cart adventure from Taumarunui to Stratford. See the remnants of the original settlements along the line. Travel through coal country, farmlands, over bridges, through hand-built tunnels and past once-thriving towns that time seems to have forgotten. Stay over in the Republic of Whangamomona’s iconic hotel. Listen to the stories and relive the memories of New Zealand’s pioneering past.

Waiouru Army Museum

The National Army Museum, is an army war museum in Waiouru, New Zealand, providing access to a unique collection of military exhibits, vehicles, memorabilia and public research material. The Museum is guardian to many of our national treasures, the displays are exceptional, the experience unforgettable.

Travel Itinerary

Auckland/Hamilton - Rotorua

Today our Glenbrook Vintage Railway charter train takes us on the historic Waiuku Branch Line, before turning left at Paerata where we join the North Island Main Trunk Line to Papakura for passenger pickups with connecting AT Metro Services. We turn around and head south through the lush farmlands surrounding Franklin and the Bombay Hills. We descend down to Pokeno and Mercer, where we join the mighty Waikato River - passing through significant swamplands and through rolling countryside. Arriving in Hamilton we stop here to pick up those joining us from Hamilton before we head East on the busy - freight only - East Coast Main Trunk Line.

Departing Hamilton (Frankton) we journey under the centre of Hamilton, through the old underground station, and across the Claudelands bridge over the Waikato River. We then travel east in a straight line through the Ruakura Innovation Park and out towards Morrinsville. At Morrinsville we turn right, passing over the Piako River, and follow gentle curves through to the junction at Waharoa. Here we proceed straight ahead to continue down the Kinleith Line (the route of the old Rotorua line), to our destination of Tokoroa.

At Tokoroa we transfer to our coach which transports us to Rotorua and our nights accommodation. After our arrival into Rotorua, and with time for dinner we head to the famous Redwoods Nightlights Treewalk. Bask in the glow of our magical wonderland as the 120-year-old Redwoods forest comes to life by night. Walking high above the forest floor and beneath these gentle giants, you are transported to a captivating world of colour and light, where forest and fantasy come alive.

Tour Inclusions
MT | L | AT
  • Travel on GVR Tour Train.
  • Coach transfer - Tokoroa to Rotorua.
  • Entry to Redwoods NightWalk with Express Entry.

Rail Cruisers & Rotorua

Today we depart central Rotorua and head around the western side of the lake before heading inland to Mamaku. Mamaku, originally Kaponga, was famous for native timber milling with the last mill closing in 2015. Mamaku was the highest point on the now-mothballed Rotorua Branch. 

On our arrival in to Mamaku we embark on our first 'rail-cart' experience with the RailCruisers on the old Rotorua Branch from Mamaku to Ngongotaha. Lunch is also included. 

We return to Rotorua, making a stop at the popular Skyline Rotorua Gondola and Luge. There is time here for a luge ride and a coffee before we return to our accommodation where the rest of the afternoon is provided free for your leisure.

Tour Inclusions*
B | L
  • RailCruising experience with Lunch.
  • Skyline Gondola ride + 1 Luge ride.
  • Coach Travel around Rotorua

Rotorua - Hobbiton -  Hamilton 

Today we depart Rotorua heading the short distance to Matamata and Hobbiton. 

Fall in love with the Alexander family sheep farm, just as acclaimed director Sir Peter Jackson did, as you journey through the unequivocal beauty of the land, with the mighty Kaimai Ranges towering in the distance. Your guide will then escort you around the set, showing the intricate detailing, pointing out the most famous locations and explaining how the movie magic was made.

You will be fully guided around the 12 acre set; past Hobbit Holes™, the Mill and into the world-famous Green Dragon™ Inn, where you will be presented with a complimentary, exclusive Hobbit™ Southfarthing™ beverage to conclude your own Middle-earth™ adventure. Experience the taste of the Shire™ with a delicious buffet lunch served in the Party Marquee. Your meal is served buffet style from a specially themed table, bursting with hobbit fare, with shared table seating to dine family style with your group.

Departing Hobbiton we spend time exploring a selection of historic sites in the area before arriving at the Zealong Tea Estate. Widely regarded as a Waikato icon, Zealong Tea Estate is the only commercial tea estate in New Zealand, producing 100% organic award-winning tea, and a world-leading destination for tea, art and hospitality.

We enjoy a high tea at Zealong and time to explore the estate and gardens before heading to Hamilton and our accommodation for the night, arriving late afternoon.

Tour Inclusions
B | L | AT
  • Entry to Hobbiton + Lunch.
  • Entry to Zealong Tea Estate + High Tea.
  • Coach travel Rotorua - Hamilton

Hamilton to Taumarunui

This morning we depart our central Hamilton accommodation and head to Hamilton's Frankton Station where we meet our GVR Tour Train. Leaving Hamilton and exiting out of the mighty Waikato, we glide through the rolling farmland and skirt many rivers, gorges and valleys as we enter the King Country. 

We arrive in Taumarunui around Lunchtime. There is time in Taumarunui for lunch, we then head the short distance to Bradley's Gardens. The Gardens have been meticulously designed with nine distinct areas for you to explore, each with its own unique charm. These include the charming cottage garden, the inviting gazebo lawn, the fragrant lavender lane, the enchanting Italian garden, the serene olive grove cathedral, and the signature amphitheatre.

We depart Bradlay's Garden and are transported to our accommodation for the night. 

Tour Inclusions
B | MT
  • GVR Tour Train Hamilton to Taumarunui
  • Relocation to accommodation
  • Entry to Bradley's Gardens. 

Forgotten World Adventures: Taumarunui - Whangamomona 

Check in at the Forgotten World Motel and take a shuttle bus to the start of the line at Okahukura. Here you’ll board your Rail Cart and set off on your journey through the Forgotten World. Immerse yourself in the changing views of rolling hills, remote farmland and native bush, and experience wildlife close to the tracks. Stop along the way to hear stories from your guide of the land, its people and history. Travel over bridges and through hand-built brick tunnels, including the line's longest tunnel at 1.5km, and journey through the Tangarakau Gorge.

Enjoy morning and afternoon tea stops at historic settlements of Matiere and Tangarakau, and a rail-side picnic lunch at Tokirima. Arrive in the Republic of Whangamomona, explore the area and its charismatic pub. Get booked into your accommodation and enjoy dinner bed and breakfast in this iconic New Zealand town.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT | D
  • Exclusive charter of Forgotten World Adventures
  • Morning Tea, Lunch and Afternoon Tea with FWA. 

Whangamomona - Stratford - New Plymouth

Depart Whangamomona and continue your journey to Stratford. Discover ever-changing vistas as you learn about the history of the area and the stories of the settlers. See redwood plantations, pine forest and deer farms and get up close and personal with local wildlife in sheep and beef country. Stop for morning tea and home baking at Te Wera Station siding, and visit an organic farm with the opportunity to sample and buy locally made produce. Enjoy lunch at Douglas Station, then continue your journey and marvel at the spectacular Mt Taranaki dominating the skyline. Travel on the largest bridge over the Patea River, and discover Taranaki dairy farmland. Arrive at Victoria Road in Stratford about 3pm.

We leave Stratford by road and arrive at our accommodation late afternoon with the evening free for your leisure. 

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • Exclusive charter of Forgotten World Adventures
  • Morning Tea, Lunch and Afternoon Tea
  • Coach travel Stratford - New Plymouth

GVR Tour Train: New Plymouth to Palmerston North

Our midday departure out of New Plymouth sees us rejoin our GVR Tour Train on the New Plymouth Waterfront. The rolling countryside and mountain views entertain you as we travel through the towns of Inglewood, Stratford, Eltham and on to Hawera. Passing Stratford, we get a glimpse of the southern connection to the mothballed Stratford – Okahukura Line. South of Hawera we travel past one of the country’s busiest milk factories at Whareroa. Passing through Patea we skirt the Waipipi Wind Farm, home to some of the country’s largest wind turbines. Descending the formidable Westmere Bank, we arrive into the outskirts of historic Whanganui, the other end of the river we met at Taumarunui. South of Whanganui we pass through the Fordell and Turakina tunnels. At Marton we rejoin the North Island Main Trunk Line and descend down in to Feilding and, through the Bunnythorpe dips and arrive into Palmerston North.

A short relocation to our Hotel for the night provides the evening free at your leisure.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • GVR Tour Train from New Plymouth to Palmerston North.
  • Relocation to accommodation from Palmerston North Railway Station.
  • Afternoon Tea & Lunch on GVR Train.

GVR Tour Train: Palmerston North - Woodville - Ohakune

This morning we relocate to the Palmerston North Railway Station, before we depart north-east towards Woodville on the Palmerston North – Gisborne line. Passing through the breath-taking Manawatu Gorge, now only accessible by rail. At Woodville, be sure to watch our train turning around on the 'balloon loop' this is quite an interesting way to turn an entire train, which is unique to Woodville only. On the way home, those sitting in the carriage on the cliff side of the gorge on the outward leg will now be on the gorge side of the carriage (thanks to the balloon loop at Woodville!), so everyone should get the opportunity to see the massive slips that closed the gorge indefinitely and to take in what the gorge looks like from the rail side.

After a short stop at Palmerston North, having turned our locomotive, we head north for Ohakune. We retrace our steps to Marton and start our climb up to the central plateau - a journey that is equally stunning and fascinating. On our ascent we pass over the 'big three' viaducts - South Rangitikei, Kawhatau and North Rangitikei. Crossing these viaducts is a highlight of today's journey - make sure you are on an observation balcony with camera in hand! Our train snakes its way up the valleys, passing through the once busy railway depot at Taihape. Our climb continues through the stunning native forests, through 'Rabbit Hole' Tunnel and around the Turangarere horseshoe curve which is rolling farmland and broken hillsides before we emerge in Waiouru. We pass Tangiwai and the site of New Zealand's worst rail disaster before arriving in to Ohakune.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • GVR Tour Train from Palmerston North - Woodville  - Ohakune. 
  • Relocation from accommodation to Palmerston North Railway Station.
  • Morning & Afternoon Tea and Lunch on board GVR Tour Train

Waiouru Army Museum, Tangiwai & Ohakune. 

Today you have the choice to try out Ohakune's popular walking trails - including the reknowned Old Coach Road*

Our group activity sees us retrace our steps to Waiouru to have a look around the popular Waiouru Army Museum before we having lunch. On our return we call in to the Tangiwai memorial which we passed on our train the day prior. We have some time here to reflect on the tragic loss of lives and what remains one of New Zealand's worst disasters. 

Returning to Ohakune mid-afternoon, there is time for a walk around some of the popular local walking trails. Or do the walk to and from the Hapuawhenua Viaduct(2hrs return). 

*For those that want a bit more adventure, we can arrange an alternative to the group program for you to do the full Old Coach Road, including bike hire and transfers to Horopito. Please make a note with your booking for more information. 

Tour Inclusions
B | L | D
  • Entry to Waiouru Army Museum
  • Lunch
  • Farewell Dinner

GVR Tour Train: Ohakune - Hamilton & Glenbrook

Our Great North Island Railway Adventure comes to end today, but not without a 'bang!'. Climbing out of Ohakune we are almost immediately greeted by the stunning and impressive Hapuawhenua Viaducts. We get two for the price of one here, as we travel on the viaduct of 1980 and to our right will be the viaduct of 1907. From here we travel through the plateau high country, past Horopito and its famous 'Smash Palace' to the highest elevation on the New Zealand rail network, before crossing the 79 metre high Makatote viaduct. Catch a glimpse of Mt Ruapehu as we skirt our way around this beautiful maunga, crossing many creeks and streams before arriving at National Park.

From National Park, we descend down onto the engineering masterpiece that is the Raurimu Spiral. We descend over 130 metres, in 7 kilometres, 2 tunnels and lots of curves, into the township of Raurimu. From here we continue our descent towards the Whakapapa river and from Kakahi, the Whanganui river will guide us all the way to Taumarunui. 

North of Taumarunui we pass the northern connection of the Stratford – Okahukura Line at Okahukura, a once busy junction of freight and passenger services. The Poro-O-Tarao Tunnel signifies the divide of the King Country and the mighty Waikato region as we roll down to Te Kuiti, our next stop. Views of Mt Pirongia fill our window to the left as we travel the rolling countryside and peat swamps of south Waikato before arriving into Hamilton. After farewelling those that joined us at Hamilton we follow the Waikato river through Ngaruawahia and the Taupiri gorge, before passing through more swampland in the northern Waikato region. Pokeno sees us start the climb up the Whangarata Bank to Pukekohe and the end of our tour with a late afternoon arrival at Papakura, before returning Glenbrook.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • GVR Tour Train from Ohakune to Hamilton or Glenbrook
  • Relocation from accommodation to Ohakune Railway Station.
  • Morning & Afternoon Tea and Lunch on board GVR Tour Train

Tour Map

Our Accommodation

Rotorua | 2 - 4 April 

Ibis Rotorua Lakeside

2 Nights

Situated on the picturesque shores of Lake Rotorua, this hotel offers tranquil surroundings with sensational views of the stunning natural scenery and geothermal wonders. With a central location that provides easy access to cafés, restaurants, there's plenty to enjoy at the ibis Rotorua Hotel. Idyllic nature and geothermal pools makes this the ultimate destination.

Hamilton | 4 - 5 April

Ibis Hamilton Tainui

1 Night

Ibis Hamilton is situated on the banks of the Waikato River, in the city centre. Ibis Hamilton Tainui offers easy access to river walkways, cafes and restaurants. The in-house Maakona Restaurant and Bar is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers contemporary New Zealand cuisine. You can also dine alfresco, on the balcony. All of the comfortable rooms are well furnished and equipped with LCD satellite TV and individually-controlled air conditioning.

Taumarunui | 5 - 6 April

Forgotten World Motel/Alexander Motel

1 Night

Located just a 5-minute walk from Taumarunui's town centre, Forgotten World Motel offers accommodation with free WiFi. All accommodation includes cable TV. Each room and apartment includes electric blankets, a toaster, and tea/coffee making facilities. Your private bathroom offers a toilet and shower. Ironing facilities are available upon request.

Whangamomona | 6 - 7 April

Whangamomona Hotel

1 Night

The Whangamomona Hotel embodies the rich and one-of-a-kind history of the Whangamomona community. The current hotel, built in 1912, stands on the site of the first hotel, which was destroyed by fire in 1911 with only the kitchen coal range surviving.

New Plymouth | 7 - 8 April

Quest New Plymouth

1 Night

Quest Serviced Apartments offers self-contained accommodation in New Plymouth, right in the heart of the CBD. The property is located across the road from the Centre City Shopping Centre, and a 2-minute walk from the award-winning Coastal Walkway. Free WiFi and parking is available.

Palmerston North | 8 - 9 April

Distinction Palmerston North

1 Night

The 5 storey Distinction Hotel boasts 85 well appointed guest rooms and free WIFI; it is the ideal Palmerston North accommodation choice for travellers who appreciates great value, convenience and excellent accommodation. The Palmerston North hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from shops, the museum, Palmerston North Conference & Functions Centre on Main St, art galleries & theatres.

Ohakune | 9 - 11 April

Ruapehu Mountain Motel

2 Nights

Nestled in the picturesque township of Ohakune at the base of the majestic Mount Ruapehu, we would love to share with you our regions spirit of pure outdoor freshness. From the snow covered peaks to the lush native bush and the bubbling mountain streams Ohakune links you to all that is good in life.



Per Person, Twin Share


Single Supplement

- 9 Nights' Accommodation in premium, unique stays - pre-booked on a twin share basis.
- Activities, coach transfers and relocations as stated in the inclusions and/or as detailed on this website or in the brochure.
- Shuttle/bus transfers to/from accommodation as detailed, as required.
- 9 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches and 2 Dinners.
- Morning/Afternoon Tea on GVR Tour Train

- Airfares, connecting travel or other expenses prior to joining or after leaving the rail tour.
- All meals and refreshments other than those detailed in the brochure.
- All personal expenditures, refreshments, taxis, other travel and transfers, accommodation or related charges not specifically referred to in the itineraries as being included.
- Travel Insurance, which is recommended for all passengers.

Join us on this epic rail adventure as we explore the stunning North Island. 
A full brochure, pricing and detailed itinerary are available on request.


To register your interest:

Fill in the Online Booking Request (Click Here).

Email: [email protected] 

Phone 020 GVR Book | 020 487 2665

^ Itinerary - is subject to change. The GVR, operators of the 'Great North Island Railway Adventure 2024', reserve the right to change the content, location and activities of this tour at any time. 

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