Destination view


Considered the gateway to the Bay of Islands this small town is known affectionately as 'train town' for the train line running through the centre of the town, the reason being Kawakawa was once a distribution hub for local coal mines.

A rather strange attraction to add to anyone's itinerary are the public toilets. This is the only building in the southern hemisphere designed by the famed Austrian artist Frederick Hundertwasser. About 5 km south are the Kawiti glow-worm caves at Waiomio.

Bay of Islands Vintage Railway

Bay of Islands Vintage Railway

The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust is a heritage Steam railway in Kawakawa, home of the world-famous Hundertwasser toilets, in the Bay of Islands region of Northland, New Zealand. The railway at Kawakawa was the North Island’s first railway to be opened and the first to run a rail passenger service in the North Island. The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is unique in the world as it is the only working railway in the world where the trains travel down the middle of a State Highway and right through the middle of the town. The star attraction Gabriel, built-in 1927 is a fine example of a working steam engine and is the only one in her class left in the world. Today the railway operates on part of the former Opua track and offers train rides to visitors using both steam and diesel locomotives. See a working vintage steam engine and enjoy a ride through scenic countryside for a unique experience and a great family day out!

Check out our travel blogs here

Get inspired with stories and advice on visiting New Zealand.

Planning your New Zealand touring holiday
Let the experts at Discover New Zealand help

Our team of New Zealand specialists can help you create the perfect touring itinerary. Whether you want to explore the South Island on a self drive holiday or the North Island on an escorted coach tour package we can design or recommend the best options. We have a huge range of accommodation ideas to suit everyone and our first hand experience of destinations and activities means that we can give the best, most up to date honest advice.