Rail Cruising: Self Drive Railway in Rotorua

Well this is cool  – New Zealanders are quite good at inventing new ways to make money from tourists – the bungy jump is of course the most famous one. But this is the newest: self-drive on a railway with a petrol-hybrid smart car! The rail cruiser was designed to run on a disused stretch of 20km of rail near Rotorua from Mamaku to Turakenga. You don’t quite get to drive – you get a break, but the cars run automatically and you can’t stop them except in an emergency. You are however very close to the bush which had to be hacked back to re-open the old line.

I’m a bit of a train geek and am happy to boast that I’ve travelled on some of the worlds slowest trains (the wood-burning “express” in Paraguay and the “toy train” to Darjeeling) and fastest (the TGV to Seville and the London-Paris Chunnel connection). But I’ve never been on a car on the train tracks…

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