The North Island by rail

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

The 28th Do­min­ion Post Read­ers’ Rail Tour in Oc­to­ber will take par­tic­i­pants on a jour­ney through the North Island, dis­cov­er­ing the island’s of­ten over­looked ar­eas.

It trav­els from Welling­ton to Whanganui, Na­tional Park and Hamil­ton and then from Napier, Palmer­ston North and back to Welling­ton via the Wairarapa.

Along the way the 14-day tour will stop at well-known at­trac­tions, as well as many hid­den gems. Here are a few high­lights.

THE CHATEAU TONGARIRO

Built in 1929, the Chateau Tongariro Ho­tel is burst­ing with his­tory.

In be­tween stints as a swanky, up­mar­ket ho­tel, the build­ing was used as an asy­lum fol­low­ing earth­quake dam­age to Porirua Lu­natic Asy­lum and then as a re­cu­per­a­tion cen­tre for Air Force per­son­nel re­turn­ing from World War II.

It re­sumed ho­tel life in 1948 and de­spite ex­ten­sive restora­tion, en­ter­ing its doors is like go­ing back to the 1930s.

Today the build­ing is a Cat­e­gory One His­toric Build­ing, with 39 rooms.

The rail tour will spend two nights here, al­low­ing time for vis­i­tors to ex­plore the sur­round­ing Na­tional Park.

HOBBITON MOVIE SET TOUR

Day five of the tour de­parts Tongariro Na­tional Park to Hamil­ton, be­fore ven­tur­ing to Hobbiton for a movie set tour.

Con­sid­ered by Tourism New Zealand as one of the coun­try’s ‘must do ex­pe­ri­ences’, there will be a guided tour through the Shire and The Green Dragon Inn, which will end with a ban­quet feast fit for a Hob­bit, with spe­cially brewed drinks.

ZEALONG TEA ES­TATE

The Zealong Tea Es­tate, lo­cated 10 kilo­me­tres north of Hamil­ton, is New Zealand’s only tea plan­ta­tion.

The Rail Tour will ex­pe­ri­ence one of the world’s purest, most trace­able teas while learn­ing about the his­tory of the es­tate and se­crets on how to brew the per­fect cup.

The ex­pe­ri­ence will con­clude with a late morn­ing high tea that in­cludes tea-in­fused del­i­ca­cies.

MAMAKU EX­PRESS RAIL CRUIS­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE

Par­tic­i­pants travel along rail­way lines - but not as they are used to - dur­ing this round trip from Mamaku Rail­way through the Dansey Road Scenic Re­serve on day six. Take con­trol of a four-seater ve­hi­cle called the RailCruiser, which of­fers 360 de­gree views of the sur­round­ing lakes and farm­land.

ART DECO NAPIER

Napier was lev­elled by an earth­quake in 1931 and was com­pletely re­built in Art Deco style. The group will tour the city now recog­nised as hav­ing one of the largest con­cen­tra­tions of Art Deco build­ings in the world.

While in Napier it will also en­joy one of the city’s other great draw­cards: Mis­sion Es­tate, one of the coun­try’s largest and old­est winer­ies.

RUGBYMUSEUM

The New Zealand Rugby Mu­seum in Palmer­ston North has one of the best col­lec­tions in the world ded­i­cated to New Zealand’s na­tional sport.

The group will learn sto­ries about our rugby le­gends, see how the game has shaped the coun­try and how the coun­try has also been shaped by it and take a look at the old­est All Black jersey - the 1905 ‘Orig­i­nals’ jersey worn by Taranaki farmer Jimmy Hunter.

The 2017 tour runs Oc­to­ber 15-28. For more in­for­ma­tion visit dom­post.co.nz/read­er­s­tour

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