More than 200 people jumped aboard the Taieri Gorge Railway Silver Fern railcar yesterday to try a different route from Oamaru to Maheno.
Passengers on the sold-out Silver Fern were greeted by waves and smiles from Oamaruvians, including Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton and a couple of swaggers, when it pulled into the Oamaru Railway Station yesterday.
When the 94 visitors from Dunedin jumped off the train in time for the Oamaru Farmers' Market and visits to the Victorian Precinct, Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, harbour attractions and shops, about 225 Oamaruvians boarded for three 45-minute trips to Maheno.
Tourism Waitaki marketing and sales co-ordinator Megan Howell said the visit, the second trial in a series, was a huge success and she was pleased to see a strong Oamaru contingent greeting the train. "There were Oamaru people down there waving and the mayor was there, and a few swaggers," Ms Howell said. "The market was buzzing. There were just people everywhere."
On Friday ticket sales had been slow with just 82 tickets sold for the three Maheno trips.
But by yesterday Oamaruvians and tourists were lining up at the i-SITE for tickets.
On board the train from Dunedin was a Waimate man who had driven to Dunedin, just so he could catch the train to Oamaru.
Another passenger enjoyed last month's jaunt to Palmerston so much, she jumped on board again for the trip to Maheno.
And it was not just locals checking out the scenery en route to Maheno - a visitor from the North Island heard about the Silver Fern and took one of the three journeys.
Radio New Zealand reporter Ian Telfer was also on board taking in the scenery and atmosphere and in Oamaru for a story.
Ms Howell said she would continue talks with Taieri Gorge Railway on the regularity of the service.
"I'll be talking to them about putting together three more dates that I would like to propose that the train comes up," she said.
"I've spoken to [promotions co-ordinator] Louise Burnside and she was really positive about three more." Ms Howell hoped the service would continue to be well supported because it was beneficial to the town and a boost for tourism.