Before Christmas I spotted a super deal on GrabOne and quickly grabbed a trip for four adults on a rail tour with Dargaville Rail and River Tours. I had no doubt I would find three others to share the trip with me as a few friends and I had talked about doing it 'some time'. Sure enough Chris, Mere and Kinny all jumped at the chance and we set a date.
Only in two other places in New Zealand can you travel aboard modified golf carts driven on disused railway track. This is the newest trip and the two guys who own and operate it are full of passion and determination to make it work. And to extend the run past Tangowahine where it goes to now, to Waiotira, out the back of where I live. The extended tour will pass through the back of this farm. Can't wait to do that trip as well.
As you can imagine, I wouldn't be saying that if I hadn't thoroughly enjoyed this trip.
Mere took the responsibility of being our "driver", she even had to produce her driver's licence but all she had to do was control the speed. With a top speed of about 15km/hour and with our fearless leaders/guides in the lead cart there wasn't much worry about her heavy foot. Or in this case, hand, on the throttle.
Heading out alongside a farm track.
We slowed for farm crossings and stopped for road crossings but none of the stops detracted from the fun. We also slowed for bridges, big and small, culverts, cuttings and tunnels. And there were stops for brief accounts of the history of the line & the area. It’s an old logging track that Kiwi Rail no longer use but it allows a trip that is different and interesting.
It was good to see the three forms of transport side by side - road, rail and river.
At the turn around point the guides whipped out a folding table from their lead cart, flasks of hot water, tea and coffee. And the most delicious cheese and date scones I've tasted in ages. They don't advertise that at all. I think they should. It was most enjoyable stretching our legs and chatting with other cart-ers. While we the guests were indulged they set to turning the carts around.
You'd think it might be boring just turning around and going back the way you had come. But not at all. We all still had big smiles on our faces. The clattering of the cart on the rails is an oddly comforting sound. Maybe that's because I grew up in the days of old steam trains and it's the familiarity of the sound that I enjoy so much.
I hear from a neighbour who overlooks the railway line to Waiotira that the guys have been working on the line, which has been badly overgrown. It looks like they will be operating the longer trip soon. Can't wait.