Kiwi Rail Adventure
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. This 15 day itinerary includes all four of these journeys.
15 Day Kiwi Rail Adventure Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive Auckland Welcome to New Zealand! You are met on arrival at the Auckland International Airport before being transferred to your accommodation.
Day 2 – Auckland Sights After breakfast embark on an Auckland City Sightseeing Tour. Learn about the City’s history and discover the spectacular scenery on this introductory tour of Auckland – enjoy the panoramic views from the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park near Mission Bay, see the Winter Gardens in the Auckland Domain. Journey around Auckland’s waterfront to visit Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter for a scuba diver’s view of the sharks, massive stingrays and other deep sea creatures as you travel through the Perspex Tunnel. You will also take a trip to the ‘South Pole’ to see live penguin colonies, walk through a replica of Scott’s Hut at Antarctica and learn about his ill-fated expedition.
Day 3 – Auckland – Paihia 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 we 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 4 – Paihia 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 5 – Paihia – Auckland 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 6 – Auckland – Wellington 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 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. You 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.
Day 7 – Wellington Enjoy a sightseeing tour of New Zealand’s capital city set around a magnificent natural harbour. Highlights include the famous Beehive and Parliament Buildings; Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral, a fine example of Revival Gothic architecture; the lovely Lady Norwood Rose Gardens and the breathtaking views from Mt Victoria. Time also to visit Te Papa – the National Museum of New Zealand which offers visitors a unique and authentic experience of New Zealand’s treasures and stories.
Day 8 – Wellington – Christchurch Today we cruise the Cook Strait heading through the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound into the South Island. On arrival in Picton you 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 9 – Akaroa Day Excursion Depart the hotel by coach this morning to visit the beautiful unspoilt old French whaling depot of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula. Akaroa was settled by the French in an early attempt to colonise New Zealand and still retains a good deal of French character in its street names, boutique shops and cafes. Visit a cheese factory en-route and sample the local produce then explore the charming village with its cafes, art and craft shops and colonial style architecture. Time out allows you to explore the delightful village and for lunch at your leisure. In the afternoon enjoy a cruise on Akaroa Harbour which is known for its wildlife including penguins, marine birdlife and the very rare Hector’s Dolphins (smallest species in the world). This afternoon we return to our Christchurch accommodation.
Day 10 – Christchurch – Franz Josef From Christchurch we 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 we have crossed into the Southern Alps we are met at the Village of Arthurs Pass by our coach for us 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 we 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 11 – Franz Josef – Queenstown 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 we 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 we reach the popular Lake Wanaka, the starting point of the mighty Clutha River. This afternoon we travel via Cromwell following the Kawerau Gorge Road into Queenstown. This evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station to dine at the Colonel’s Homestead.
Day 12 – Queenstown Today is at leisure. Visit the Remarkable’s or Coronet Peak. Experience the thrill of a jet-boat ride along the Shotover or Kawerau Rivers. Perhaps a scenic 4 wheel drive excursion through Skippers Canyon, it’s up to you.
Day 13 – Milford Sound Day Excursion Travel by luxury coach on an unforgettable journey from Queenstown into Milford Sound. Located within the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, this region is rich with dense rainforest, lakes and waterfalls cascading from rugged mountain peaks. Journey through the Southern Alps via the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km tunnel drilled through a solid mountain of rock. Upon arrival at Milford Sound, board your vessel for a spectacular cruise where you will see the wonders of Mitre Peak, glacier scarred rock walls that rise 1,200m vertically from the sea, and waterfalls that tumble from hanging valleys and crash into the sound far below. Return by coach to Queenstown.
Day 14 – Queenstown – Christchurch Departing from Queenstown we travel through diverse farmland continuing along the Tasman River before arriving at the location of New Zealand’s tallest mountain Aoraki / Mount Cook. There is time to experience an optional scenic helicopter or ski plane flight (weather permitting). Next we arrive at Lake Tekapo, where you can view the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd. We continue to Christchurch where on arrival you will be dropped off at your hotel.
Day 15 – Depart Christchurch Today you are transferred from your hotel to connect with your outbound flight.
*Itinerary subject to change.