The thing I loved about Driving Creek Railway the most was the sense of discovery – that around every corner there was something new, quirky and unusual – just waiting for the careful eye to spot it. It felt like the type of trip you could take multiple times and not see the same thing twice.
For me Driving Creek Railway is quintessentially Coromandel.
It is firstly passionately concerned with its environment with a Charitable Trust set up for the preservation and enhancement of local endangered native wildlife species and for public education. I got a little lump in my throat when driving though this amazing place and the train driver told us that owner Barry Brickell doesn’t take any profit from ticket sales, instead putting it back into the project and that when he is gone this amazing place will live on in trust for the people of New Zealand to enjoy.
Secondly it has that cheeky sense of humour that seems to live and breath so effortlessly in Coromandel – in places like Driving Creek Railway and further down the road in Water Works and in the little quirks that you see elsewhere if you look hard enough.
And lastly, it exemplifies Kiwi ingenuity and the can do attitude in a way that will most definitely make you proud to be a kiwi. It was a labour of love for Barry Brickell to reach the clay in the mountains for his pottery – Barry worked tirelessly on his dream of a narrow-gauge railway system for 15 years before in 1990 he opened to his first paying customer. If you talk to the locals Barry is in local mythology as having laid half the tracks barefoot – whether this is true or not only the man himself could tell you. There are viaducts and spirals – imagined and many built by Barry alone and many using recycled materials (like the retaining wall made out of old bottles) when money was tight.
For railway enthusiasts this place is magic. For your everyday family like us, this place is, well magic.
Driving Creek Railway is well priced at $90 for us to take 2 adults and 3 children (with the money being much easier to hand over knowing it is going back into keeping this place the wonderful sanctuary it is) and we easily spent 2 hours here.
There are is no cafe on site so if you are travelling over lunch time make sure to take a few snacks so that the kids aren’t hungry – there is however a great cafe – Driving Creek Cafe – just a few metres down the road so make sure you stop in there.
You can find out more at the website below and in the busy time bookings are essential.