This has been a loooong time coming and we couldn’t be more excited! Taumarunui will once again become a regular stop for the Northern Explorer service.
Taumarunui will be the disembarking point for two of the new short break packages and multi-day tours being offered by Great Journeys New Zealand.
KiwiRail’s scenic journeys general manager Tracey Goodall said the packages would help showcase the many regions still recovering from the pandemic.
“Our packages are about getting domestic and international travellers off the beaten track and out into the regions to really experience what New Zealand has to offer,” said Goodall.
“As part of this we have been working closely with Visit Ruapehu and local providers to develop two packages centred around the Forgotten World.”
The first package called Escape to the Forgotten World includes a half-day rail cart tour and a visit to a lavender farm on the banks on the Whanganui River, travelling on the Northern Explorer from either Auckland or Wellington.
The second, Forgotten World Adventure, is a multi-day stay in the regions, with a two-day rail cart tour along the entire Forgotten World railway from Okahukura to Stratford, an overnight stay in the Republic of Whangamōmona, three nights in Taumarunui and time to visit the King Country.
Ruapehu mayor Weston Kirton said the news was the boost Taumarunui had been waiting for.
”Both tourism operators and residents alike are very excited about rail services resuming. The return of the iconic Northern Explorer to Taumarunui will be a huge boost to the township and our visitor industry, and we expect the service to be very well-supported.”
Previously, the Northern Explorer would only stop at Taumarunui if 10 or more people wanted to get on or off the train.
That will now change with a scheduled Northern Explorer stop from December 4.
The train station played an important part in the history of New Zealand rail, first as an overnight stop when the Auckland-Wellington route opened in 1908 and then as a refreshment break in the station’s tearoom.
These brief scrambles for pies and drinks became part of the way of life for travellers on the North Island Main Trunk line.
In fact, the Taumarunui refreshment rooms were immortalised in Peter Cape’s folk song, Taumarunui on the main trunk line