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 to Republic of Whangamomona - a character filled township - before returning to Taumarunui. We meet our ride home, KiwiRail's Northern Explorer - arriving in Auckland on Sunday evening.
We arrive back in 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.
This 6 day mini-tour forms part of our 10 day Great North Island Rail Adventure:
Don't miss out on the famous Raurimu Spiral, the beauty of the central plateau & Mt Ruapehu, Mt Taranaki and the exclusive train journeys from New Plymouth and through the Manawatu Gorge.
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.
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.
Unplugged yet still on the line as you travel the entire Forgotten World Railway on this one-day Rail Cart adventure from Taumarunui to Whangamomona. 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. Listen to the stories and relive the memories of New Zealand’s pioneering past.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Here we board our shuttle for the return trip to Taumarunui, arriving early evening.
Today we depart Taumarunui around midday for Auckland aboard the Northern Explorer. This morning you have free to roam the town of Taumarunui or explore the walks around town. You can disembark at Papakura or Auckland Strand Station. A connection to Glenbrook is not available for this 6 day tour.
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.
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.
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.