1 December 2017
Dotted around New Zealand are a number of vintage railways and private lines. Often run by volunteers these railway trips are a fun day out if you want a bit of nostalgia and some great scenery. Here are 4 of my favourites!
Glenbrook Vintage Railway (Auckland)
The premier NZ steam train attraction which is celebrating its 40th year of operation. The 15km ride starts at Glenbrook station and takes you through rural countryside to the small settlement of Waiuku on the edge of the Manukau Harbour. The railway is run by volunteers of the Railway Enthusiasts Society who have restored a number of steam locomotives and carriages, including their recently refurbished parlour ‘first class’ car. The railway operates on Sundays between Labour weekend and Anzac Weekend. It often holds special events, such as Thomas the Tank Engine days and is available for private charter – they have hosted plently of weddings!
Driving Creek Railway (Coromandel)
This narrow gauge mountain railway is situated 3km from the township of Coromandel amongst lush forest. It’s a purpose built railway which started as a hobby for its founder, potter Barry Bricknell who used it to transport clay and pine wood. It opened to the public in 1990 and is NZ’s steepest railway. The railway operates diesel railcars which were built onsite and have open sides, taking up to 36 passengers per trip. The line travels through native forest of regenerating kauri, rimu and ferns, over a number of bridges & 3 tunnels as you climb to the lookout point at EyeFull Tower. The railway is open year round, bookings are advised during the busy summer period.
Goldfields Historic Railway (Waihi)
This tourist railway was established to preserve the rail heritage of the Waihi district and the society operates train rides between the goldmining town of Waihi and Waikino, a 30 minute trip. The line travels 6.5km along the original rail bed skirting the Ohinemuri River with views not only of fabulous scenery, but many of the original mining operation historical sites not visible from State Highway Two. There is a café onsite and if you need a place to park your camper or motorhome while you enjoy the activities and attractions of Waihi, they have sites available at the station for $10 per night, with income from the campground helping to maintain the railway. The railway operates weekends, public holidays and school holidays, plus other days of the year when there is demand.
Weka Pass Railway (Waipara)
Based in north Canterbury this 12km railway has been running since 1984 on the former Waiau branch line. The railway is a totally voluntary organization and operates a variety of steam and diesel locomotives to wind through the unique limestone landscapes of the Weka Pass, with Frog Rock and Seal Rock being notable features. Because the line connects to the national railway network the society often welcomes other locomotives and rolling stock onto their line for special events. The railway has also been featured in numerous movies and TV shows. Weka Pass railway operates every second Sunday and some public holidays, so it’s best to check their website for running times.