Ride Rail Carts Through the Forgotten World on This Epic New Zealand Trip to Celebrate the Country's Reopening

The five-day adventure through the North Island's King Country also includes canoeing, jet boating, and hiking.

The Bridge to Nowhere over the Whanganui River in New Zealand
Photo: Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

As New Zealand reopens its borders to international travelers — including Americans on May 2 — Australia-based small group tour operator Intrepid Travel has ramped up its offerings to its neighboring nation. Among their new trips is the five-day Forgotten World Adventure tour through King Country in the Whanganui region of the North Island.

The highlight of the adventure-filled itinerary is a day at Forgotten World Adventures experiencing a ride through 10 hand-built brick tunnels — one nearly a mile in length — and more than 25 bridges along an old railway line running between Stratford and Taumarunui, passing through both bushlands and hilly outcrops. In Tokirima, guests will enjoy a ploughman's lunch with homemade baked treats before setting off on a seasonal visit to Lauren's Lavender Farm followed by a jaunt to Tongariro National Park, with the option to hike to Waitonga Falls.

The Whanganui River in New Zealand
Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

The tour also includes a jet boat ride to Mangapurua Landing in Whanganui National Park for a guided Bridge to Nowhere walk to the Valley of Abandoned Dreams, as well as a canoe trip down the Whanganui River. The new trip starts at $1,605 per person, including three nights in a hotel and one in a lodge, plus four breakfasts, three lunches, and a dinner.

Also offered on the North Island is the five-day Bay of Islands Adventure (from $1,220), which starts in Auckland with visits to ancient kauri tree forests, the seaside town of Russell, Poor Knights Islands, and a glow worm cave — plus opportunities to see fur seals, dolphins, whales, and penguins. For those who prefer pedaling, there's also the new four-day Cycle Otago Rail Trail (from $915) along the nation's oldest rail trail with stops in the former gold mining towns of Alexandra, Omakau, Wedderburn, and Hyde.

Intrepid Travel also added two premium-level tours — with upgraded accommodations and experiences — to its New Zealand collection, one on each island. The eight-day Premium New Zealand North Island itinerary (from $2,810) travels from Auckland to Wellington, with visits to Hobbiton from The Lord of the Rings, Rotorua geothermal park, Lake Taupo, and Tongariro's volcanic areas, plus a private catamaran ride in Wellington Harbor. The 10-day Premium New Zealand South Island trip (from $3,220) goes from Christchurch to Queenstown, bringing travelers to glaciers and lakes, as well as on a Milford Sound cruise and brewery tasting.

Underground Tunnel Rail Cart Tour in New Zealand
Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

The New Zealand tours are just some of Intrepid's new itineraries, which also include a collection of eight new itineraries in the U.S. that celebrate diversity, including ones focused on Black communities, designed with the National Blacks in Travel & Tourism Collaborative, and Indigenous culture, with representatives from the Crow and Lakota nations. The company is also offering $1 deposits through March on more than 1,000 trips for travel by the end of the year.

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