We’ve said it before, being on holiday can be hard work. Especially when the alarm clock is set at 5.30am. Up early for a shower, arrive at breakfast at 6.00am, and no, we weren’t the first ones there. Back down to the room to collect our bags, return the entry cards to reception and jump in a taxi at 7.0am. We were off to Auckland Strand Station to board the Northern Explorer, for a leisurely trip home. Why fly when you can travel by train?
The cases were taken away to the baggage car, and we went to find our seats. The carriages are very comfy, plenty of legroom and nice big windows. The café car had options available to keep us fed and watered, and in the afternoon came through the carriages selling world famous in New Zealand Kapiti Ice-cream. Even though we didn’t know we wanted an ice-cream, once they were offered, of course we said yes. There was no Wi-Fi available on the train, we were advised. But they did have “Windows Live”, just look left or right out the windows and we could see it all. However, Windows Live did not work in the tunnels!
The train chugged along happily until we reached Ngaruwhahia where we had a troubling incident. People standing in the open air carriage taking photos had a barrage of rocks thrown at them by several youths, and one of the passengers received an injured hand. An ambulance arrived in Hamilton to attend to the injury, and the matter was reported to the police. It was all rather upsetting, as the injury could have been much worse if someone’s head had been struck. The open air carriage has recently had it’s windows redesigned with extra bars added to dissuade selfie takers from leaning their heads through the openings.
Open Air Carriage
One of the highlights of the trip for train enthusiasts was traveling on the Raurimu Spiral. But in 1898, this is a feat of civil engineering that takes the train between the 132m height difference between the Volcanic Plateau and the Wanganui River valley. The train travels 6.8km which if traveled in a straight line, would be just 2km.
Of course, we may be biased, but we think the scenery here in New Zealand is spectacular. From mountains, bush clad hills, and rolling farmland.
Stony outcrops and chugging over numerous viaducts looking down at the deep ravines, all quite beautiful in their own way.
Changing views out the windows
Our train journey ended at Palmerston North. A taxi came to pick us up and take to the airport where our car was in Long Term Storage, then off we drove to home. The holiday was over.