They laughed in the face of the lightbulb, mocked the first man to use an umbrella, and side-eyed New Zealander Ian Balme’s aspirations to ride disused rail lines in a golf cart. But, as history repeatedly shows us, as much as the collective naysayers snicker and snide, they rarely get the last laugh.
Today, Forgotten World Adventures is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the North Island, attracting over 9000 visitors every year, all hellbent on trundling along the tracks in a customised golf buggy while exploring 142km of abandoned rail line between Stratford and Taumarunui.
Trundle along the rail tracks in a customised golf buggy, exploring 142km of abandoned rail line between Stratford and Taumarunui. Photo / Visit Ruapehu
The appeal is undoubtedly its novelty value. How often does one get to languidly roll through New Zealand countryside in an open golf buggy? These are playful carts that wouldn’t look amiss on a Florida golf course, but tootling across a rugged patch of King Country, look a little like a poodle in a dog race. Sheer brilliance.
October 9 saw tours cranking up once again for the summer season, with jaunts ranging from half-day skedaddles to 10-hour ventures, roving well off the beaten track (figuratively speaking, no need to pack a puncture kit) into wild lands once roamed by hardy pioneers. For those after a longer adventure, the two-day Ultimate tour explores the entire Okahukura-Stratford Line, negotiating 98 bridges and 24 tunnels before stopping overnight in Whangamōmona, which of course, is renowned for being its own republic, complete with a standalone passport stamp and a series of elected presidents of which only two have been human.
Whichever route you choose, you’re guaranteed to explore remote countryside and ancient brick tunnels, the longest of which is 1.5km, while guides provide enriching commentary and insight, with plenty of stops for food, tea breaks and to peruse the homemade wares of local artisans.
Career down the Whanganui River as part of Forgotten World Adventures' seven-hour rail and river tour. Photo / Visit Ruapehu
And should all that seem far too sedate, you can also career down the Whanganui River as part of the company’s seven-hour rail and river tour, combining cart rides with a 23km spin in the jet boat.
For now, the jet boat is a jet boat, but who knows what the future entails with Ian Balme at the helm. Any day now and he might get his hands on a submarine…
Check alert level restrictions and Ministry of Health advice before travel. covid19.govt.nz