The seldom-used Gore Railway Shelter was treated to a near 90-year-old visitor last week when a 1938-built Standard railcar from the Pahiatua Railcar Society in Manawatu stopped in Gore.

The 48 to 52-seat railcar had stopped in Invercargill the night before as part of an Australian travel group’s South Island charter.

Napier-based locomotive engineer Darryl Hoare said the group hired the railcar for their journey.

“It’s the first time this vehicle has ever been in the South Island,” Mr Hoare said.

The 14-strong group began its journey in Picton and had visited areas across the South Island, including Hokitika, Christchurch, Hanmer Springs and Dunedin, he said.

“They booked the whole railcar to themselves so they can just get on and get off.”

In 2019 the group hired the railcar for a North Island charter, he said.

Mr Hoare, who is one of the railcar drivers, had been with the group for the entire journey.

“I’ve brought [the railcar] all the way down from Wellington, across on the rail ferry, all the way down here.”

Big red … This 1938-built standard railcar carrying an Australian tour group arrived at the Gore Railway Shelter yesterday. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

So far he had driven the railcar for 10 days, and would do the journey back to Pahiatua as well, he said.

Named Tokomaru, the railcar was one of six Standard railcars built in the New Zealand Railways Hutt Workshops in 1938 and 1939.

It was built to provide comfortable and fast rail services across the North Island, he said.

“She’s the only railcar of that age that is allowed to run around on the KiwiRail network to this day.”

Train passenger Paul Tuckerman, of Sydney, spent the night in Invercargill after travelling down from Picton.

“It’s been a tremendous experience,” Mr Tuckerman said.

His favourite part of the tour had been viewing the scenery of Dunedin, he said.

During his stop in Gore he planned to go to the Gore Visitor Centre and taste some Hokonui Moonshine, he said.

The railcar travelled back to Christchurch from Dunedin on Friday.