Train and Rail Journeys
New Zealand offers four superb train journeys including the Overlander through the central North Island; the spectacular Coastal Pacific linking Picton and Christchurch; the world-renowned Tranz Alpine from Christchurch through the majestic Southern Alps to Greymouth on the West Coast and the Taieri Gorge Railway which features engineering wonders through the hinterlands of Dunedin.
Australia has some of the most spectacular and unforgettable rail journeys in the world. Traverse the Red Continent on the famous Ghan linking Darwin and Adelaide or choose the Indian Pacific connecting Perth and Sydney. Sightseeing rail journeys such as the Kuranda Scenic Railway near Cairns are perfect to include in a leisure itinerary or for the rail enthusiast.
15 Day Kiwi Rail Adventure ~ Sample Itinerary
Day 1 – ARRIVE AUCKLAND
Welcome to New Zealand! You are met on arrival at the Auckland International Airport before being transferred to your hotel.
Day 2 – AUCKLAND – PAIHIA (BL)
There’s no place in the world like the Bay of Islands a stunning region of 144 secluded islands, abundant in natural wonders and marine life. Regarded as the birthplace of New Zealand as a bi-cultural nation, the Bay of Islands is rich in both Maori culture and early European history. Discover well-preserved Maori and European relics of the past, and learn more about the unique history that has shaped our country. Departing Auckland city you tour to the Bay of Islands taking you through spectacular scenery of native forests and sub-tropical bush to the foreshores of the National Maritime Park, arriving at your destination seaside town of Paihia. Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds before enjoying a Cape Brett Cruise, travelling through the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ (weather permitting).
Day 3 – BAY OF ISLANDS (B)
Today is a day of leisure. The Bay of Islands has so many options for you to discover – perhaps a day trip to the light house at Cape Reinga the most northern tip of New Zealand, followed by a safari along 90 Mile Beach on the way home. Maybe try your luck at deep-sea fishing, or take the plunge swimming with the dolphins or just take time out to relax within Paihia or Russell – New Zealand’s first capital.
Day 4 – PAIHIA – AUCKLAND (B)
This afternoon you travel back to Auckland. The departure time today allows you to spend a full day in the Bay before leaving for Auckland. Your journey will take you past scenic native forests and sub-tropical bush, before crossing the Auckland Harbour Bridge to arrive into the spectacular city scene of Auckland by night.
Day 5 – AUCKLAND – WELLINGTON (B)
(Northern Explorer departures from Auckland are available on Monday, Thursday and Saturday). This morning, you are transferred from your hotel to the Auckland Train Station to board The Northern Explorer. The Northern Explorer is a journey through the heart of the North Island, travelling between Auckland – New Zealand’s largest city and home of the Sky Tower, to Wellington – New Zealand’s arts and culture capital. Along the way you pass the Central North Island ski towns of National Park and Ohakune, popular with young and old alike. Also see fantastic views of New Zealand farmland, the volcanic plateau, Mount Ruapehu, the world famous Raurimu Spiral, and stunning river gorges – all from our panoramic windows or open air viewing decks allowing you the best possible views. On arrival into Wellington you are transferred to your accommodation.
Day 6 – WELLINGTON SIGHTS (B)
This morning you enjoy an informative sightseeing tour including visits to St Pauls – the original cathedral built entirely of wood, the modern city centre and the rose garden at the Botanic Gardens. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore New Zealand’s capital city and make a visit to Te Papa (Our Place), New Zealand’s national museum.
Day 7 – WELLINGTON – CHRISTCHURCH (B)
Today cruise the Cook Strait heading through the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound into the South Island. On arrival in Picton board the Coastal Pacific train journey to travel from the delightful port of Picton through to Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city. This journey is a scenic feast of New Zealand, with the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side of your train and the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline on the other. One of the world’s most scenic train journeys, the Coastal Pacific travels through 22 tunnels and crosses 175 bridges. The Coastal Pacific includes an open air viewing carriage where all your senses are awakened with the clean, fresh, sea air. On arrival you are transferred to your accommodation.
Day 8 – CHRISTCHURCH – FRANZ JOSEF (BD) From Christchurch you traverse the Southern Alps aboard the famous Tranz-Alpine rail journey to Arthurs Pass. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps. Once you have crossed into the Southern Alps you are met at the village of Arthurs Pass by our coach to continue our journey to the West Coast – or the Coast as locals call it, stopping in Hokitika where a visit is made to the Greenstone and Glass Blowing factories. Further south you tour the Westland National Park, the home of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. On arrival, time is available for optional scenic flights, before continuing onto our accommodation for the night.
Day 9 – FRANZ JOSEF – QUEENSTOWN (B)
Driving towards the southern end of the South Island’s West Coast Road, there is a strong sense of entering a primeval land, and a feeling of total isolation. Arriving at Haast, you are surrounded by a landscape of rainforest, wetlands, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. This wilderness forms part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, so designated because South Westland and Fiordland have some of the most dramatic forest and mountain scenery and natural resources in the world. From the Westland National Park you travel through the Haast River valleys and over the Haast Pass to Makaroa and onto the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka. Travelling past Lake Hawea you reach the popular Lake Wanaka, the starting point of the mighty Clutha River. This afternoon you travel via Cromwell following the Kawarau Gorge Road into Queenstown. Tonight is free for you to explore the local restaurants, cafes and bars.
Day 10 – QUEENSTOWN (BD)
Today is at leisure. Visit the Remarkables or Coronet Peak. Experience the thrill of a jet-boat ride along the Shotover or Kawarau Rivers. Perhaps a scenic 4 wheel drive excursion through Skippers Canyon, it’s up to you. This evening you take a cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station to dine at the Colonel’s Homestead.
Day 11 – QUEENSTOWN – TE ANAU (BD)
Leaving Queenstown you skirt the shores of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s third largest lake. Travelling via Te Anau you reach the beautiful Eglinton Valley climbing to Homer Tunnel before descending through the spectacular Cleddau Canyon to reach Milford Sound where you enjoy a cruise of the Sound. The Sound is dominated by the grandeur of Mitre Peak and the Bowen Falls. From Milford Sound you return to Te Anau reaching our overnight accommodation.
Day 12 – TE ANAU – DUNEDIN (BD)
Departing Te Anau you travel through some of New Zealand’s most populated sheep country through to Lumsden and onto Gore before arriving in Dunedin – “the Edinburgh of the South”. Upon our arrival into Dunedin, you board the Taieri Gorge Train Excursion from the historic Dunedin Railway Station for a scenic train ride into the spectacular Taieri Gorge to Pukerangi and return. Experience the dramatic changes in scenery from a bustling city to the remote hinterland regions, marvel at graceful wrought iron viaducts spanning deep ravines and admire skilfully crafted stonework on bridges and tunnels.
Day 13 – DUNEDIN – OMARAMA (BD)
This morning you visit Olveston House – an impressive turn-of-the-century house that is still home to all the lavish furnishings and art collections that have been collected from all corners of the world. You continue to then take in the sights of this old Scottish City. Then onto Oamaru where you have time to look at the ‘White Stone City’. The old buildings have been constructed with local limestone. It was from Oamaru that New Zealand’s first frozen meat was shipped in 1882 taking over three months to reach England, and thus began New Zealand’s most important export industry. Travelling inland through Benmore
and Otematata, through Sailors Cutting you arrive at Omarama.
Day 14 – OMARAMA – CHRISTCHURCH (BD)
A day for spectacular sights. You head north to skirt the shore of Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Time is available to enjoy an optional scenic flight over the ancient rivers of ice and the West Coast Glaciers (weather permitting – a highly recommended option). Travelling to Tekapo you witness the magnificent blue waters of Lake Tekapo. Here you visit the Church of the Good Shepherd and the statue of the Collie dog, before travelling the vast Mackenzie Basin, over Burke’s Pass through Fairlie, Geraldine, Ashburton and across the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch.
Day 15 – CHRISTCHURCH – HOME PORT (B)
Farewell from New Zealand, today you will be transferred from the hotel to Christchurch International Airport for your flight home.