The North Island by rail
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
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 fourseater 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.
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