Plans to restart Taranaki train tours once distancing rules end
The demand for train trips in Taranaki remained strong in spite of it not
being possible while social distancing restrictions remain in place, an
Auckland travel agent says.
For the past six years Pukekohe Travel have organised week long train
excursions from Auckland to New Plymouth for up to 90 passengers.
Passengers board at Auckland, Hamilton or several suburban stations on the
main trunk line to Taumarunui, where they exchange rail for road and bus to
New Plymouth on the Forgotten World Highway.
After four days and three nights visiting attractions around, Taranaki the
group board the train back to Auckland via Palmerston North, staying a night
at National Park on the return journey.
The $2375 total cost included travel, accommodation, meals and guided tours.
Pukekohe Travel co-owner Damien O'Connor said the annual excursions in
September had always been popular.
"They have always been a lot of fun and people can socialise and relax," he
"We are as keen as mustard to get the rail trip up and running again but it
is extremely difficult for us with Covid-19 restrictions happening to plan
"The restrictions on social distancing make it impossible for any train
travel during alert level 2."
The rail tours also include separate excursions to the Chateau Tongariro and
Kapiti Island, and the Forgotten World Highway using rail carts.
"Covid 19 has stopped everything but there was still an appetite for rail
travel to Taranaki," O'Connor said.
"If we can do it again in September we will."
KiwiRail has no plans for expanding train travel in the present
circumstances and are not running the company's centre piece Great Journey's
of New Zealand with the TranzAlpine, or Coastal Pacific.
KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller said the company's current focus
was on options for its existing services.
"The only new passenger service currently being developed is a commuter
service between Hamilton and Auckland, due to commence later this year," he
"KiwiRail is keenly interested in running commercially viable rail services
that connect customers to experiences, but It is not currently investigating
any other scenic services."
New Plymouth's waterfront is a popular attraction for train tourists.