Tararua's iconic tourist hot spot, Tui Brewery, continues to attract visitors to our region, most recently on Sunday last week when 209 visitors made the steam-train journey from Wellington and the Kapiti Coast for a real taste of Tararua Country at Mangatainoka.
The train travellers joined 60 other visitors already at Tui HQ on the day.
"It was great," said Rosie Rogers from The Experience Collective, which manages Tui Brewery. "It was a terrific day out for everyone."
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The hundreds from the Wellington region travelled to Mangatainoka on steam locomotive Jb1236 from Plimmerton.
This was a popular Mainline Steam Trust adventure and guests enjoyed a scenic ride in the restored fleet of AO carriages up the Kapiti Coast, into the Manawatu and through the spectacular Manawatu Gorge, Rogers said.
"The ride included their visit to Tui Brewery for our famous Kiwiana barbecue lunch in the historic Flagon Room, a real hit with everyone, a brewery tour and live music."
(The AO 56-foot carriage is a class of 17.07 metre-long railway passenger car built at Otahuhu Railway Workshops and Addington Railway Workshops).
And while these visits have an immediate impact on the businesses involved, Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis, said the flow on to our wider community is immense.
"People talk about what Tararua has to offer," she said. "Train trips are a unique thing our district can take advantage of as every part of our district, from Ormondville in the north to Eketahuna in the south, is connected by rail.
"There are more opportunities to maximise rail tourism in Tararua, from the Pahiatua Railcar Society, as well as steam. We've got lots of opportunities."
Collis said Tararua had huge destination benefits.
"People living in our cities are surprised to see what regions such as Tararua have to offer," she said.
The visitors added to the golden glow Tui Brewery has been experiencing on the back of its recently awarded Qualmark gold sustainable tourism business award.
Gregg Anderson, general manager of Qualmark New Zealand, said Tui Brewery was a standout organisation in the region, with its innovative marketing programmes, commitment to community engagement and understanding of the tourism sector.
"Tui Brewery has established a raft of initiatives that have encouraged year-round visitation, particularly at weekends and an ongoing commitment to address and improve freedom camping at Mangatainoka Reserve," he said.
Sunday's Tui Express visit came a week after the brewery hosted its monthly car day, which in June was aimed at Japanese cars.
The next car day will be held on Sunday, July 29, a Holden v Ford day.