Celebrating over 150 years of Rail on the North Island

Come join us for a fun, family-friendly adventure on the oldest passenger railway line in New Zealand (1864). The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is an awe-inspiring 90 minute journey right through the bustling town of Kawakawa on State Highway 1, travelling east across farmland and over rivers towards Opua.

Enjoy the gentle chug of a classic steam engine and the click-clack of iron wheels on the tracks evoking a sense of nostalgia that’s both timeless and enchanting as you pass through beautiful countryside, past rivers, native wetlands and over the longest curved wooden bridge in the Southern Hemisphere.

Enjoy the history and heritage of our vintage railway, six engines and our flagship steam engine, Gabriel.

Photo credit: Ward Jameson

Ride through the main street, on our 90 minutes return journey from Kawakawa to the station at Te Akeake.

Photo credit: Ward Jameson

Explore the natural wonders of the Taumarere River – unique and rare birds, wetlands and river views.

Photo credit: Rawiri Gabb Warren

Bike or walk our cycle connection on the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail. Click here to book a cycle connection.

Enjoy the cafes, retail, arts and culture of Kawakawa including the Hundertwasser Toilets.

Trains run 3 days each week, Friday-Sunday, this Winter. Plus public and school holidays!

A truly unique experience

The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway invites you to step aboard and embark on a captivating 90 minute scenic return journey through beautiful countryside and the pages of history. Travel with us on the first railway to be opened in the North Island of New Zealand and the only one that runs down the middle of a State Highway anywhere in the world.

Visit Taumarere Station and then travel over Long Bridge the longest curved rail viaduct in the Southern Hemisphere. Spot rare and endangered birds and unique wetland landscapes through to Te Akeake, alongside the beautiful Taumarere River. There’s the option to walk or cycle one way on the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail or sit back and relax. Click here to follow our instructions for booking your cycle connection.

The all-weather journey covers spectacular river views and unique flora and fauna, and we have both closed seated carriages, outdoor seated carriages and a large open deck for standing and bicycles. Our Guards on each journey talk to the local history, environment and culture and the train journey combined with a tour of the Te Hononga visitor centre, art gallery, Hundertwasser toilets and a look around the local gift shops in Kawakawa provides a wonderful excursion.

Experience the magic of steam with our flagship steam engine Gabriel (1927), and our fleet of six vintage diesel engines and eight carriages. Take a journey back in time and let the rhythm of the rails and the allure of vintage rail transport you to a bygone era of romantic adventure.

Train Timetable

Trains run 3-days per week in winter, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, public and school holidays!

Ticket Prices

Prices start from a little as $20 for an adult, we offer discounts to Families, Seniors and infants are free.

Book Tickets

Tickets are available at the Station 30 minutes before each train. Larger groups and cyclists please book in advance.

“The train ticket says ‘All Day – Same Day Ticket’, so you can really get your monies worth. Interestingly there is a wooden viaduct over the river, one of the oldest of its kind, which is linked into a circular cycle route. For a voluntary contribution bikes can be picked up and ferried over the bridge, if you make use of this service give generously, as the charity runs on your donations.”

John R – Matlock, UK

“Interesting trip with very informative commentary. All the staff were friendly and helpful. We had a nice snack on the station platform while waiting for the train trip.”

Marym – New Plymouth, NZ

“Absolutely great! Commentary was so informative and entertaining. Was so kind to travellers. First class experience. Choo choo.. Have been waiting so long to visit here after I had a call to my work place from staff ages ago.”

Jane – Kerikeri, NZ

“It was a sunny day and we enjoyed our ride on the train through town and out for a few km to the bridge and return with driver Kevin and guide Anne who are both volunteers. Anne provides a witty, well-informed commentary. Plenty of chances to taker photos both sides of the train.”

Ross C – Richmond, NZ

“This was a great unexpected find. A train down a state highway. The lava-tree. And the very knowledgeable Anne. We learned a lot and had great fun.”

CF Bib – Galway, Ireland

“Perfect for the kids… and railway enthusiasts of all ages! Running the 11 kilometers between Kawakawa nd Opua, this narrow gauge railway famously runs down the centre of Kawakawas main street before taking a more traditional track through farmland and bush on its 25 minute trip to the coast. With cafes at both ends, and enthusiastic volunteers to run the train, what more could kids of all ages desire…..”

Richard – Waitakere City, NZ

“Headed down to Kawakawa for the afternoon to check out this neat little gem. Nice lunch at the railway cafe and then an enjoyable trip out to the countryside. Staff have a lot of knowledge of the local area, it’s always good to lean something new about our back yard. Would be keen to take visitors back when they visit.”

Dan – Kerikeri, NZ

“Wonderful Treat for the family. We stopped in Kawakawa to look around and saw the train was running so grabbed a spot and enjoyed the idyllic 45 minute ride. Very scenic, and wonderful to hear about the history of the railway line.”

Melissa Glynan – Wellington, NZ

“This heritage railway is a must, if you are in the area. The return trip only takes around 50-minutes, including 10-minutes at the turnaround station to look around and stretch you legs. The carriages are a mixture of open, closed and flat bedded and you can move freely between them during the journey.”

Cliff – London, UK