On Saturday 6th of August 2022, Join the Steam Incorporated and the Glenbrook Vintage Railway’s teams as we combine for the first in a series of joint excursions.
In celebration of Steam Incorporated’s 50th year, and the long-standing working relationship with the GVR, we have committed ourselves to some special low rates for travelling on our heritage trains. The first of which is no walk in the park… it’s Mountain Thunder.
Steam Incorporated’s vintage Da diesel-electric locomotives get underway from Paekakariki in the early hours, dashing through the Kapiti Coast and Horowhenua plains before the long train snakes it’s way into the Manawatu. Having departed Palmerston North, we join up with the GVR team at Feilding where two trains are combined to form a mega train. A total of 20 carriages with 3 locomotives on the front – a total of 3,700hp to haul us into the King Country – a stretch of line primarily dominated by freight trains.
As the huge train snakes its way up and through the steep grades and winding curves of the Rangitikei region, make sure to make note as we cross the Rangitikei River multiple times. We cross a series of notable viaducts, the South Rangitikei, Kawhatau, and North Rangitikei. The train drifts into New Zealand’s “Gumboot Capital” of Taihape where there is the choice of alighting the train to explore what this traditional small New Zealand town has to offer. As the train departs, the noisy trio of motive power up the front wind up as they make work of the grades through Mataroa up to Waiouru, a relentless climb and one the Da locomotives were designed for.
With a Mt Ruapehu at our fingertips, and well within sight, we head on a relatively straight run through to Ohakune. Once a busy ‘railway’ town, the station and yard remain, a shadow of its former self. It was a hive of activity, steam galore, and much increased rail traffic. As our 377m long train snakes its way through the Hapuawhenua Deviation, admire the shear workmanship involved in the earthworks of the railway through the area. As we arrive at National Park, we are 806.8m above sea level and pass through the station notable for its café – a lemonade scone and a flat white go down a treat according to many a locomotive engineer! From here, on the last few kilometres of descent to the base of the Raurimu Spiral, we take in the magnitude of the drop in elevation – a huge feat of engineering of its time when completed in 1908.
After arriving at the bottom of the spiral, our trio of diesel electric locomotives will run around our train and catch on to the other end. Enjoy the sights and sounds of our locomotive lash-up as we pause for a couple of photo runby’s as the train climbs the 1:52 grade through a pair of tunnels, eventually looping back on themselves as it climbs back up to National Park.
On our return journey we follow the way we came, this time with one of the 1950s Da locomotives on the front. As we make our way south, take a moment to look out the window to see the long train make its way round all of the NIMT’s curves. After making our scheduled stops on the way south, upon arrival at Feilding, the trains split into their respective halves, DBR 1254 and the yellow set of carriages will shuffle over into the yard and Steam Incorporated’s Da locomotives take its train back to Paekakariki. It promises to be a day not to be missed, get involved in what is to be the longest passenger train this decade has seen!
Light refreshments and beverages will be available onboard. The train will be a licensed and there shall be no BYO.
|Raurimu (Stay Onboard)
|Raurimu (Stay Onboard)
Palmerston North/Feilding to Raurimu and Return
Adult $95, Child (Aged 2-12) $79
Taihape to Raurimu and Return
Adult $59, Child (Aged 2-12) $45
Waiouru/Ohakune to Raurimu and Return
Adult $49, Child (Aged 2-12) $35
Boarding from Kapiti Stations and alighting at Taihape/Waiouru and Ohakune also available.
A three day package of heritage rail action is available departing Auckland or Hamilton on Friday the 5th, returning on Sunday the 7th. This package includes transfers, some meals, and two nights' accommodation at the comfortable Distinction Hotel in Palmerston North. You will traverse the historic North Island Main Trunk onboard GVR's heritage train to Palmerston North, partake in the epic Mountain Thunder excursion on Saturday, and return by train north on Sunday.
Your ticket entitles you to return train travel on GVR and Steam Inc's Heritage Train.
You can get the full Mountain Thunder timetable, conditions of travel and our manual booking form by downloading the form here.