As a New Year treat to ourselves we booked this unique steam locomotive hauled train journey. Leaving Levin at 10am travelling North up the North Island Main Trunk line to Palmerston North then East through the Manawatu Gorge turning South at Woodville to Masterton.
There were several options available. Alight at Woodville to be taken by bus to the races for the day, Eketahuna for visits to Mt Bruce wildlife sanctuary and/or the Middleton Model Railway and boutique cheese factory or Opaki for a visit to the Paper Road Vineyard. All 3 options were well patronised having something like 400 passengers on the train. We opted to stay on the train right through to Masterton.
The whole day was well organised with Rotary putting on a BBQ, pancakes, ice creams and soft drinks for both inward and out bound trips at Woodville.
At Masterton the Kiwi Kai Kart was on hand to replenish those in need of further nourishment. The train also consisted of a buffet car to keep travellers well fed and watered along with a souvenir shop for those requiring mementoes of the day.
The return journey was interesting in the fact that at Masterton they just turned the locomotive for the return trip but at Woodville they turned the whole train so that passengers on the cliff face side going through the Manawatu Gorge on the outward journey would be on the river side going back giving everybody a good view going through the gorge.
The latter procedure was done on what they call the Woodville loop where 3 lines form Palmerston North, Napier and Masterton converge. All clever stuff.Twice during the day we had to wait while we crossed path’s with a milk tanker train. Fully loaded they carry 400,000 litres of milk, that’s a lot of busy cow’s.
We eventually arrived back in Levin on time at 9pm well satisfied with our days excursion. Steam Incorporated appear to be running an excursion train on a monthly basis for the coming year. You can check these out on their website www.steaminc.org.nz. We may well be tempted to partake in another trip depending on other commitments.