Welcome to the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway
The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust is a heritage railway in Kawakawa, in the Bay of Islands region of the Far North, New Zealand, and also the home to the world famous Hundertwasser toilets.
The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is unique as it is the only working railway in New Zealand where the trains travel down a State Highway and right through the middle of a busy town.
Trains run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, wet or dry weather, all year and every day in the school holidays. We have an incredible fleet of over six vintage diesel engines running alongside our famous steam engine Gabriel.
Gabriel is back in service for the last Sunday of every month, along with special charters, events and somedays in the holidays (when we have the drivers available). This is the only steam engine of this type left in the world – a unique trip indeed! All trains depart for return from Kawakawa Railway Station at 10am, 12 noon, 2pm for a 1½ hour return trip. Trains stop at Taumarere Railway Station, before going over Long Bridge to Te Akeake, a platform located at the halfway point between Kawakawa to Opua. There is no need to book for any train trip, but please arrive about 15 minutes before the train departs to allow time to purchase tickets. We also sell the monthly Steam engine tickets online through Eventbrite for those who prefer the peace of mind to book in advance, so look out for that promotional link. Thank you.
The railway section between Taumarere – Te Akeake provides a temporary link to join the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycleway. It takes about 1½ hours to return to Kawakawa – see “What’s Happening” for the latest daily information, and timetable and fares for more detailed information. Outside the time tabled trains we can arrange a Special Excursion – please contact us about this. Cyclists are advised to check cycleway trail information for the latest announcements about the condition of tracks due to recent weather and flooding.
The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is mainly volunteer-run, and a not-for-profit charity. It is the most northerly railway in New Zealand, and of significant historical and cultural importance. The railway at Kawakawa was the North Island’s first railway to be opened and the first steam loco in North Island also ran the first rail passenger train in New Zealand. It is now celebrating over 150 years of Rail on the North Island.
The station in Kawakawa was built in 1911 to replace the first that had been destroyed by fire and is recognised by the Rail Heritage Trust and Far North District Council as being of heritage significance.
Today the railway operates on a section of the former Opua track and offers vintage train rides to visitors using diesel locomotives as far as the Long Bridge – the longest curved wooden bridge in the Southern Hemisphere.
Enjoy a ride through scenic countryside for a unique experience and a great family day out whatever the weather!
Please note: our star attraction Gabriel, built in 1927, is a fine example of a working steam engine and the only one of her class left in the world. She will be running for special steam days, and vintage diesel engines haul all our other trains. BOIVR is grateful for the PGF grant which has enabled us to buy Gabriel’s new boiler. Check “What’s Happening” for the latest news!
See our “What’s Happening” page for the latest updates.
TWIN COAST CYCLE TRAIL
Part of the Twin Coast Cycle Trail runs next to the live track between Kawakawa and Taumarere. Trains are linking the 3 km gap in the Cycleway between Taumarere and Te Akeake (the halfway point between Kawakawa and Opua). The Cycleway continues temporarily on top of our line for the remainder of the distance to Opua. More info . . .