Morgan Jones was 6, travelling by train through Kaikoura when he fell through a safety rail and onto the tracks below.
He was left with horrific injuries - blind, with his right leg amputated and one side of his body partially paralysed.
Tranz Rail was taken to court over the accident, but was cleared of criminal negligence. A settlement was reached with Jones' family outside court.
Now 29, he has been able to do more than he thought was possible - including competing in a dance competition and taking on an adventure trip.
He took home a trophy from the NZ World Latin Dance Cup competition last month - although he won by default as the only dancer in the category.
He also went to the Give It A Go! youth amputee camp in New Plymouth this month, where he conquered rock climbing, abseiling and a giant rope course.
"I tell people I'm not scared of heights, I'm just scared of the dark," he said.
But Jones has struggled to get a job.
He used technology like a "talking computer" to complete a Bachelor of Science at Canterbury University in 2013, hoping to work in conservation.
"I always loved and wanted to protect the environment," he said.
But in spite of several placements, he could not get work.
He then completed a medical terminology paper - but once he finished the course, he said no companies would hire him.
"I'd be happy to do anything, but even supermarket jobs I can't do," he said.
Instead he is concentrating on his dancing, and creating a sanctuary for native birds in his backyard.