Taumarunui - Whanganui River Wilderness Adventure

Experience the beautiful Whanganui River from your very own cozy home base at River Rock Cottage right next to the Awa! Cruise the Whanganui River by Jetboat or Helicopter and visit some hidden gems along the way.

3 Day/2 Nights from $3579 for 2 (off peak rate)
Call Ruapehu i-SITE 0800 647 483 for availability and pricing for your chosen departure.

View all Discover Ruapehu Rail Tours Packages

Explore remote wilderness only accessible by river. Journey down river on our jet boat and return by scenic helicopter ride (or vice versa). Choose from two very special destinations: Posh Pioneers is a unique glamping site where you’ll enjoy genuine warm hospitality and gorgeous home-cooked food. Or choose Blue Duck Station Café, an iconic local farm where you can learn about conservation efforts to save the Whio (blue duck). This is a great winter family getaway or a trip for a group of adventurous friends. Enjoy all the comforts of home in between activities as you warm up in front of the fire and await your transport to dinner at your choice of local restaurant.

Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Friday

📍 Auckland/Hamilton - Taumarunui by Chartered Heritage Train
☕ Morning tea aboard train

A rail adventure begins. Our friendly train-mad staff are ready to greet you onboard at your choice of boarding location. The journey south from Pukekohe takes you through the outer fringes of Auckland and into the Waikato. Our journey to Hamilton will be a mixture of rural farmland and their community centres like Te Kauwhata and Huntly. Be sure to check out the Whangamarino wetlands, the Waikato river and Huntly power station before curving our way through the Taupiri gorge. After our departure from Hamilton, we make quick stops for passengers at Te Awamutu and Otorohanga. Te Kuiti marks the gateway to the real “Main Trunk Line”.

Our train will start to climb the steep grades, passing over the 132 year old Waiteti viaduct and cruising through lush farmlands and skirting pine forests. We climb for nearly 40 minutes before reaching the summit of the hill at Porootarao, this is marked by passing through the 1272 metre Porootarao tunnel. Blasting out the other side of the tunnel, it is here that you will catch your first glimpse of Mt Ruapehu, if the weather is behaving! As we descend down the grade, we pass through the small settlement of Waimiha then glide through some pretty impressive rock cuttings and finally we meet the Ongarue river which guides us all the way to Taumarunui. Transfers will be awaiting you and your group at Taumarunui to take you to the River Rock Cottage for your stay. Pick a bedroom, unpack and unwind on the deck for a bit, watching the Whanganui river pass you by. Your hosts will take you into town for you to sample of Taumarunui’s eateries for dinner then return to settle in for a good night’s sleep.


Auckland (Pukekohe) dep. 9.05am
Hamilton (Frankton)
dep. 11.00am
Te Awamutu
dep. 11.40am
Otorohanga dep. 12.05.pm
Taumarunui arr. 1.45pm

Day 2 - Saturday

📍 Taumarunui
🍽️ Continental breakfast at accommodation
🍽️ Lunch at Posh Pioneers
☕ Afternoon tea at Blue Duck Lodge

Make a brew, down a continental breakfast and brace for adventure! Your guide will pick you up from the motel and down to the river where you trade in the wheels for the jet boat! Jetting down the river, take in the hidden beauty of the King Country until you arrive at the Posh Pioneers at Maharanui.

This is a special place, a once in a lifetime experience where the hosts of Posh Pioneers have set out to respect and preserve the Wairua (spirit) of this remote location. Nestled off grid, with no road access, tour this pioneer preserve and admire the sustainable lifestyle of living off the land. Enjoy a grazing table lunch before saying goodbye to this piece of paradise then head back onto the jetboat where we head further downstream to the Blue Duck Lodge on the banks of the Whanganui river, surrounded by the Whanganui National Park in all its wilderness. Here we enjoy a coffee and a chat with local host about the core values of the Blue Duck Lodge, conserving endangered wildlife, increase health of native bush and rivers and preserve the history of the area by educating its visitors.

From here, an exhilarating helicopter ride home is waiting for you. Take in the breath-taking wilderness, hills, native forests, the river and spectacular scenery that cannot be missed! Out again for your choice of dinner tonight in Taumarunui to share stories of you highlights from the day.   

Day 3 - Sunday

📍 Taumarunui - Auckland/Hamilton by Chartered Heritage Train
🍽️ Continental breakfast at accommodation
☕ Afternoon tea aboard train

Soak up one last opportunity to enjoy breakfast and some banter by the awa then load up you bags and your hosts will transfer you to Taumarunui where you can leave your bags in the i-SITE then take a wander down the main street and browse the local shops or have some lunch at one of Taumarunui’s eateries. After lunch, head back to the i-SITE to pick up your bags awaiting the arrival of your train home.

Once again, our friendly staff will be happy to see you again, and to assist you to settle in for the journey home. Take this time to have a little rest or share your stories with other guests onboard


Taumarunui dep. 1.10pm
Otorohanga arr. 3.00pm
Te Awamutu
arr. 3.25pm
Hamilton (Frankton)
arr. 3.55pm
Auckland (Pukekohe)


Enjoy your very own back packer style cottage on the Whanganui river front. Three bedrooms, shared kitchen and lounge fully furnished with an expansive deck with river views. Shared bathroom, fridge, stove and TV with DVD player. 

The Heritage Train Journey

The North Island Main Trunk is steeped in local and Maori history. Opened completely between Auckland and Wellington in 1908 after over 30 years of construction, the “Main Trunk” passes through many rural settlements and towns which were connected up to the major cities by the coming of the railway. The section we travel over covers the main centres of Pukekohe and Hamilton, followed by rural towns like Otorohanga, Te Kuiti and Taumarunui. The railway geography is diverse, from rolling hills to steep gradients. Our journey passes through conservation land, farms and forests.

Selected Highlights Include:

  • Travel over the North Island Main Trunk line on an exclusive heritage train
  • Cross over the spectacular Waiteti Viaduct
  • Track our path along the Ongarue river valley
  • Pass through the Porootarao tunnel
  • Spectacular scenery

This heritage train operated by the Glenbrook Vintage Railway will be hauled by restored locomotive DBR1254. Originally built as a DB class locomotive by General Motors Diesel Canada in 1965, this locomotive was rebuilt by Clyde Engineering Australia in 1981. In 2017 the Glenbrook Vintage Railway took ownership of DBR1254 which underwent an intense overhaul before returning to mainline service in 2019.

The carriages date from 1939/1940 and would have made thousands of journeys up and down the main trunk. The carriages retain key features including the iconic flip-over seats, though have been tastefully redecorated for enhanced passenger comfort. The guard’s van that travels with these carriages provides an open viewing area for an uninterrupted view of the amazing countryside.


  • Return train travel from Pukekohe/Hamilton/Te Awamutu/Otorohanga to Taumarunui and return.
  • Two nights’ accommodation at River Rock Cottage.
  • Transfers from and to Taumarunui Railway Station.
  • Transfers to activities on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Continental breakfast Saturday and Sunday.
  • Lunch and afternoon tea Saturday.
  • Jet boat/helicopter ride.
  • Transfers to Taumarunui for dinner Friday and Saturday.
  • Admission to Posh Pioneers and Blue Duck Lodge.
  • Complimentary light refreshments on outbound and homebound rail journeys.

Terms and Conditions

Full standard Terms and Conditions can be found here: https://www.gvr.org.nz/terms

Additional conditions:


In the event that the NZ government imposes COVID-19 restrictions preventing the GVR train tour from operating, a refund of monies paid may be given, net of any outgoings or payments already made by GVR in conjunction with the operation and organisation of these tours on written application within 7 days of the scheduled date of travel.

Operator Conditions and Disclaimer

Special Conditions Apply: Minimum of 6 passengers maximum of 18 (or max 9 on Return by Road option). Please call for pricing for smaller groups Depending on weather/river conditions jet boat or helicopter may be cancelled. This will be refunded in full and alternative activities substituted by agreement. Dependant on accommodation availability

Disclaimer Clients Acknowledge: Adventure activities are potentially dangerous and are undertaken at their own risk. They take responsibility for their own safety including any prior medical conditions. They indemnify and hold Blazing Paddles Ltd harmless for any accident, illness or liability, including lost or damaged property. Any refunds will be at Blazing Paddles sole discretion. Blazing Paddles recommends clients carry comprehensive trip and medical insurance

Visit Ruapehu and Ruapehu District i-SITE Visitor Centre Conditions

These packages are organised through Visit Ruapehu and the Ruapehu District i-SITE Visitor Centres who handle all accommodation, transfers, and activities for these packages. Please contact them on 0800 647 483 or email them at isite@ruapehudc.govt.nz for their terms and conditions which apply to your booking.

All packages are subject to availability, after you place your booking the i-SITE will confirm your arrangements with the individual providers and operators.
If parts of your chosen package are unavailable, the i-SITE will work with you to provide a suitable substitution/customisation or we will refund you fully.

The Glenbrook Vintage Railway Charitable Trust Board will not be held liable for any damages arising from errors or omissions in the information provided for you on this website

Book This Package

Travelling solo, with kids, or as a group? Package not available for your preferred date? The Ruapehu i-SITE is able to customise packages to suit your requirements. Click here for more information.

For Peak Season Departures availability is limited, so you need to book through the Ruapehu i-SITE. Give them a call on 0800 647 483 or email them at isite@ruapehudc.govt.nz.

No fuss, one transaction and one simply amazing time will be had on your Discover Ruapehu Rail Tour adventure.