FWA was founded by Ian Balme, farmer and former Waikato Regional Councillor, when he recognized the hidden potential that the rail line has.
Since 2011, FWA have been offering those with an adventurous spirit, a chance to see our beautiful country in a self-driven rail cart, driving down a decommissioned railway line through tunnels and over bridges to small townships that seem untouched by modern life.
“Local guides bring the history and stories of the line, the people and communities that lived in the area alive,” adds Paul. Following ancient Maori pathways and built on colonial bridle paths formed late in the 19th century, the FWA tours are like taking a step into the past.
FWA gives visitors an exciting opportunity to self-drive along the 142 kms of heritage rail tracks during the summer season of October through to May, with some shorter winter tours available by arrangement. “Meals, shuttles and guides are included in the tour price. Customers on most tours along with the rail also get to experience the spectacular forgotten world highway,” says Paul.
“We also offer the opportunity to experience the Whanganui River by jet boat on some of the tours,” adds Paul
Paul Chaplow, General Manager of Forgotten World Adventures, has an abundance of experience in the tourism sector. He is a Tourism Business Advisor with Qualmark, Contractor with the Tourism Industry Association and he also has 7 years’ experience running a world class sea kayaking business in Canada
“We are distinguished from other rail cart operations by our sheer size,” says Paul.
FWA are over four times longer than the length of all other New Zealand operations combined (142km) and have a fleet size more than 2.5 times greater.
“Another differentiation are the tunnels, there are 24 of them totalling 10km in length if you placed them back to back. None of the other operations have any,” comments Paul.
FWA have seen great business growth from 2500 customers in the first year to 6300 in the 4th year. “And we are on track for 7500 plus in our 5th season,” adds Paul.