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Ian Balme, Managing Director of his pioneering tour business Forgotten World Adventures, has captured a large portion of the domestic tourist market in the five years it, has been in operation.

The next step, says Mr Balme, is to attract more international tourists.

By Tristan Hooker / Media PA

“Internationals are what we’re ultimately targeting but it takes quite a bit of time to build that international profile and that credibility,” says Mr Balme.


Forgotten World Adventures Founder Ian Balme


Last year, in its fourth year of operation, Forgotten World Adventures’s clientele was made up of approximately 85 percent domestic tourists, with that section being predominantly baby boomers and retirees. 

“The tours enable those that are less physically able (aged 65+) to have a unique, memorable adventure and experience an area that they wouldn’t normally have access to,” says Mr Balme.

“The international demand this year is significantly stronger, so I expect by the end of this season we’ll be sitting somewhere near 25 percent internationals.”

Forgotten World Adventures has become an iconic apart of one of New Zealand’s most beautiful and mysterious areas.  Utilizing the decommissioned railway line between Okahukura, Whangamomona and Stratford, Forgotten World Adventures uses self-driven Rail Carts  to explore the historic towns, bridges and tunnels of the area.


“It was a bolt out of the blue idea that has morphed into what’s turned out to be a pretty exciting business,” says Mr Balme.

Mr Balme says part of the attraction for international tourists is that Forgotten World Adventures hires local guides who know the area well and provide a unique perspective and local knowledge.

“We’ve developed an incredibly good team of people. We’ve employed virtually all locals and they bring a special flavour to what we offer. Our clients love the guides.” 

“What I have learned is what an amazing part of the country the Forgotten World/Whanganui area is and there’s still a huge amount of untapped potential there,” says Mr Balme.

“So it has far exceeded everybody’s expectations. Who would’ve thought?”