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A Kiwi tourism provider has created a new South Island steam train experience after Covid-19 crippled business with no cruise ships visiting Marlborough.
Pounamu Tourism Group, operators of the Marlborough Flyer steam train, have put together a range of tour options to explore the South Island on the 'Great Southern Steam Train Tour' from seven to 13 day options, departing from Wellington, Christchurch, Invercargill or Blenheim in April 2021.
Director Paul Jackson said over 10,000 cruise ship passengers journeyed on the Marlborough Flyer steam train between Picton and Blenheim last season, but the Covid-19 pandemic had put an immediate stop to that.
Adapting in a vastly changed Covid-19 world would be pivotal for New Zealand businesses and Jackson said they had no choice but to evolve. With Kiwis unable to travel overseas on holidays this year, New Zealanders are being encouraged to explore their homeland and Jackson hoped they would take advantage of the opportunity.
“Over the few months post-Covid, like all other businesses, we have had to change our business focus and pivot towards alternative options in order to move forward,'' Jackson said.
''As cruise ships have now stopped visiting [Marlborough] for the foreseeable future, we needed to make a plan. Every cloud has a silver lining, and we are very excited to share these new rail tours and help Kiwis explore their own backyard by rail.''
The Marlborough Flyer has been popular with tourists, but with no cruise ships, the operators had to evolve.
One of the tour itineraries is for passengers to spend the first week travelling the entire length of the South Island (from Marlborough, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Oamaru, Dunedin, and Invercargill), in vintage carriages hauled by the historic WW1 memorial steam locomotive Ab608 Passchendaele, (named in honour of the fallen soldiers at The Battle of Passchendaele in 1917).
On reaching Invercargill, the group begins the traverse inland on luxury coaches to experience Te Anau, Milford Sound, Queenstown and Franz Josef, before the home stretch to Christchurch on the TranzAlpine via Arthur’s Pass.
The guided tour is escorted by a fleet of luxury coaches that provide seamless transfers from the train to the hotel each evening.
The six tour options are:
13-day tour departing Wellington, departing 22 April 2021
13-day tour departing Christchurch, departing 24 April 2021
12-day tour departing Blenheim, departing 23 April 2021
8-day tour departing Invercargill, departing 30 April 2021
7-day tour departing Wellington, departing 22 April 2021
7-day tour departing Blenheim, departing 23 April 2021
This article first appeared on www.stuff.co.nz
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