The Coastal Pacific

Duration: 1 Day

Price: from NZ$177 One-Way / SAVE 15%!

Departure From: Christchurch or Picton

Departure Date: Daily from mid December to early May.

Tour Type: Day Tour

Tour Operator: Kiwi Rail

Physical Grading: 1/5


Join the Coastal Pacific and explore the stunning Kaikōura coastline, famous for its marine mammals and whale watching, through the idyllic Canterbury Plains to the Garden City of Christchurch.

Travelling between Christchurch and Picton, the Coastal Pacific journeys breathtakingly close to the Pacific Ocean, where the roaring sea meets enormous bush-clad mountains. The Coastal Pacific isn’t just a scenic New Zealand train trip, when combined with the Interislander Ferry it is the perfect way to connect between Wellington, Blenheim, Kaikoura and  Christchurch. 

SAVE 15% Travel North from Christchurch and save 15% on your fare, either Scenic Class or the Scenic Plus Dining Experience. What better way to enjoy those stunning views than with a full menu of delicious regionally inspired cuisine! Valid for new bookings made up to 24 December 2023 only for travel up to 31 January 2024.

If you are travelling north, the Coastal Pacific train departs Christchurch Railway Station in the early hours of the morning, arriving in Picton at lunchtime. Once you reach Picton you can take the Interislander ferry to Wellington and board the Northern Explorer train to Auckland to carry on your train journey through the North Island.

The Coastal Pacific train runs once daily taking just over 5 hours to traverse 348km and is an incredibly memorable experience. The journey is quite flexible so you can alight along the way and enjoy exploring the enticing destinations you travel through. Contact LOCO for all your travel arrangements including pre and post journey options

Coastal Pacific Train Highlights

  • Coastal Pacific One-Way Journey
  • Reserved Seating
  • Panoramic Windows
  • Choose from Scenic Class or Scenic Plus
  • Licensed Cafe for snacks, hot drinks and meals
  • Terrific audio commentary telling the stories of what you can see
  • Air Conditioning and heating for those cooler days
  • Disability Accessible
  • Enjoy the open-air viewing carriage for that photo opportunity
Coastal Pacific Mountains and Sea

Coastal Pacific Booking Classes

The Coastal Pacific has recently brought in two distinct service levels to their train journey. Both classes are worthy of what you pay, and both a thoroughly enjoyable way to make the most of your Coastal Pacific train experience.

Scenic Class Experience

Glide through the heart of New Zealand’s beautiful scenery in Scenic Class carriages, with epic landscape views filling your window while you relax in your seat.

In Scenic Class you’ll experience spacious reclined seats with generous amounts of legroom and comfort, panoramic windows, glass shelves and skylights. And to heighten your comfort, state-of-the-art airbag suspension has been used to guarantee a smooth ride across our rugged New Zealand terrain.

While onboard, you might like a stroll to the Scenic Cafe carriage where you’ll find a great selection of hot and cold snacks, drinks and ice creams. Indulge in a freshly brewed specialty tea or barista coffee married with a sumptuous cake? Or perhaps toast your special journey with a bottle of bubbles?

The Scenic Cafe opens for coffee and breakfast before the train departs and continues serving throughout the day. You can take a seat in the Scenic Cafe carriage and feast upon the views whilst eating. But you are also welcome to return to your seat to dine and drink if you would prefer. The day is yours to do as you choose! 

During the hot summer months, the Open-air Viewing Carriage is a great place to get some fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors while on the move. You can whittle away the hours chatting and gazing out upon spectacular scenery and wildlife. It is also that perfect place for capturing those magical views on camera.

Learn the stories of our land while you travel by plugging into the Scenic Class Audio Commentary at your seat. The commentary provides a seamless stream of stories, narratives and facts about the places outside your window and is available on all three Scenic Class services, including the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine.

Scenic Plus Class Experience

Inside the refined Scenic Plus Class carriages, it’s more than just a journey. You’ll be treated to fresh food, captivating commentary, great hosting and spectacular views, all delivered to your seat while you ease back and enjoy the journey. There really is no better way to discover New Zealand. 

At the heart of the Scenic Plus experience is the refined Scenic Plus Class carriage, with huge panoramic windows, glass shelves and skylights, bathing you in those gorgeous coastal and mountain landscapes. 

Scenic Plus Class

With freshly prepared food inspired by the fields that glide past your window and regional wines to match, you’ll be immersed in the flavours of our land. As you admire the views our Scenic Plus hosts will recount the stories and histories of the passing landscapes and landmarks. 

When you step off the train, you will have experienced some of the best New Zealand has to offer. 

Please note, Scenic Plus Class experience is currently suspended.

Coastal Pacific Station Shops

There are five official stops on the Coastal Pacific train journey:

  • Picton – Interislander terminal and gateway to the Marlborough Sounds
  • Blenheim – explore the Marlborough wine country
  • Kaikoura – for unique sea-life adventures and terrific scenery
  • Rangiora – by request only
  • Christchurch – consider an onward trip on board the TranzAlpine

Coastal Pacific Packages

To maximise your Coastal Pacific rail journey experience, we strongly recommend you consider taking a stop on the way and enjoying a break in some of New Zealand’s most popular destinations. Kaikoura and Blenheim are both incredibly popular destinations and don’t overlook Picton which offers access to some amazing locations throughout the top of the South Island.

LOCO Journeys can create an independent itinerary that suits your needs including Coastal Pacific train, accommodation, car-hire (if required), and activities of your choice.

Click here to enquire

Further Coastal Pacific Information

For more details on the following points, please continue below;

Coastal Pacific Timetable & Departure Dates
Coastal Pacific Discounts & Deals
Coastal Pacific Bookings
Your Coastal Pacific Journey Itinerary

Departure Dates & Timetable

  • Coastal Pacific operates daily from 14th December –  (excludes Xmas Day).
  • The Coastal Pacific does not operate from 8th May – 18th September.
  • The Coastal Pacific departs Christchurch at 07.00 arriving into Picton at 12.40
  • The Coastal Pacific departs Picton at 13.40 arriving in Christchurch at 19.30
  • There is one departure each way on operating days.
  • You must be at the station at least 20 minutes prior to departure.
  • Please note, Scenic Plus Class experience is currently suspended.

Pricing Notes

  • The Coastal Pacific is a one-way journey between Christchurch and Picton or vice versa
  • Advertised price is per person from $177 one-way
  • You can stop at selected stations and re-board at a later date free of charge, providing we are advised 3 days prior to travel.
  • All changes to departure date and route are free up to 24 hours before travel. Upgrade fees may apply
  • All cancellations are free up to 24 hours before travel.
  • No changes can be made within 24 hours of travel.
  • Child fare is available for 2-17 years.  Children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Infants under 2 are free when sitting on an adults lap.
  • Please Contact LOCO for pricing if you would like to connect with the TranzAlpine, Northern Explorer and Inter-island Ferry

Scenic Class Includes

  • Ever-changing views through panoramic windows
  • Comfortable reclined seats
  • Open air carriage – perfect for photography
  • Hot and cold food and drinks available for purchase from our Scenic Café
  • Location-triggered headphone audio-commentary
  • One item of luggage (up to 23kg)
  • One small bag* (up to 7kg)

Scenic Plus Class Includes

  • Inclusive food and drink served to your seat
  • Includes a locally-inspired menu served throughout the journey
  • Specialist hosting and storytelling
  • Ever-changing views through panoramic windows
  • Comfortable reclined seats
  • Open-air Viewing Carriage – perfect for photography
  • One item of luggage (up to 23kg)
  • One small bag* (up to 7kg)
  • Must be booked 3 days in advance of travel

Tour Itinerary

Your Coastal Pacific Itinerary
Whether you are travelling on the Coastal Pacific train from Christchurch to Picton in the crisp early morning or from Picton to Christchurch in the afternoon sun, the Coastal Pacific's journey along the South Island's north-east coast is one to savour. From craggy coastal cliffs and rocky outcrops to modern vineyards and rustic farmsteads, the Coastal Pacific cruises through the full spectrum of New Zealand culture and character. Throw in a healthy dose of seals, seagulls, dolphins and the occasional whale, and the Coastal Pacific train easily ranks as one of best days out in New Zealand. The Main North Line railway, on which the Coastal Pacific runs, began its journey as two separate railways - one heading north from Christchurch to Kaikoura and one heading south from Picton to Blenheim. When it came to connecting them together, from Parnassus in the south to Mirza in the north, the impenetrable Kaikoura mountain ranges forced the railway to the very edge of the world. Today, this sensational stretch along the Pacific Coast is the highlight of the Coastal Pacific journey. Here the Coastal Pacific voyages along New Zealand's wild coastlines, pressed against the sea by rugged cliffs that arise from the Pacific Ocean and continue climbing onward and upward to form the peaks of the Kaikoura mountains. It is pure magic, with New Zealand's best scenery, wildlife and engineering feats filling the windows as the Coastal Pacific winds around bend after bend after bend. And as the train skirts around secluded bays and across isolated beaches, have your camera ready because words cannot do justice to the beauty that unfolds. But it isn't all sea and scenery. As the Coastal Pacific ventures along this historic railway, the fundamental challenges and rewards of life in New Zealand are framed within its huge panoramic windows. The Kaikoura earthquake of 2016 is the latest chapter of an incredible story. Spanning a colossal 200km from north to south and 70km from east to west, the Canterbury Plains are New Zealand's largest expanse of continuous flat land. Essential to successful large-scale agriculture, these vast plains were bought by the Canterbury Association in 1850 as the perfect region for building their new English colony. Although the Coastal Pacific ventures only through the north-eastern tip of the Canterbury Plains, the immense flatness allows the imposing hills of the Torlesse Range to be seen 70km to the west. These are the hills through which the Coastal Pacific's sister train, the TranzAlpine, climbs on its way into the Southern Alps. The TranzAlpine's path frequently follows the valley forged by the "braided" Waimakariri River, which the Coastal Pacific crosses near Kaiapoi as it travels across the plains. Bridging the Okarahia Stream between Claverley and Oaro, the Okarahia Viaduct is an unexpected treat. The southern approach is hidden by the trees lining Claverley Road, while the northern approach is hidden by the 975m Amuri Tunnel (Main North Line Tunnel 3). So whichever direction you arrive, the amazing vistas afforded by the viaduct appear suddenly. Traversing the Okarahia Viaduct is a stunning spectacle. At 21 metres high and 115 metres long, it is by no means the longest or tallest viaduct on the network. However, the Coastal Pacific seems to fly magically over the beach far below, with tremendous views of the Pacific Ocean stretching away into the blue. The view to the west is equally remarkable, with the broad tree-lined Okarahia valley winding away into the nearby hills. This view continues along the embankment between the viaduct and tunnel, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the view in both directions. Although the antithesis of scenic, the Main North Line railway's many tunnels are a major feature of the journey. The expense and difficulty of building these tunnels resulted in the railway taking more than 80 years to complete. All but one of the Main North Line's 20 tunnels are clustered in the cliffs that rise either side of Kaikoura's vast plain. Tunnels 1-14 are located within a 19km stretch between Claverley and Okiwi Bay, while tunnels 15-20 are cut within a10km stretch between Managamaunu and Okiwi Bay. The majority of these tunnels were needed to meet the railway's speed requirement by keeping bends within the decreed 240m radius. Other tunnels were built only to protect the railway from slips using cut and cover barrel vaulting methods. Of particular interest is the winding 899m ParatitahiTunnel. While each end uses conventional tunnelling to cut through Riley's Hill, the middle section is barrel vaulted with ventilation slits added to the walls. You will know when you are passing through, as the sea view will be blinking through slits giving the impression of sitting inside a life-size zoetrope! Immediately adjacent to Riley's Road Tunnel 14 is the Kahautara River Bridge 101. Stretching 241 metres over the Kahautara River, the bridge provides spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Seaward Kaikouras to the west. For those travelling northbound on the Coastal Pacific to Picton, this is the first of many stunning views of the Seaward Kaikoura mountains. The range rises from the south with the highest peak visible in the north, Manakau, at 2610 metres. During summer, this beautiful mountainous seaside region gets intensely hot, so you need to travel in spring or autumn to catch the mountains capped with snow. Nothing says "summer" more than a hot sunny day on the beach - and between the peninsulas of Kaikoura and Hapuku, the Coastal Pacific roams along miles upon miles of beautiful beach. However, it isn't just the sea providing the scenery here. The flat plains surrounding Kaikoura leading into the piedmont of the Kaikoura mountains also provides vast vistas of stunning natural beauty. Meanwhile, to the north, the Kaikoura Ranges can be seen descending into the sea, while to the south the Kaikoura Peninsula sweeps out into the sea. It really is a magnificent panorama, with spectacular scenery in all directions! One of the most spectacular moments comes at Mangamaunu Bay, just north of Hapuku. Here the train rounds the southern end of the bay delivering exceptional close-up views of the Kaikoura mountain ranges rising up out of the water to the north. Mangamaunu Bay is also a highly rated surf beach with a right-hand point break. When the waves are on form, the bay is so popular that surfers queue up to take turns. The Coastal Pacific then crosses the border into Marlborough and the landscape quickly changes. The climate in Marlborough is renownedly hot and the grasses soon turn to parched shades of yellow and orange. You will also notice the landscape turn curiously pink as the Coastal Pacific travels through the heart of the salt plains at Lake Grassmere. By lunchtime, the Coastal Pacific is amongst the sunny vineyards of Blenheim at the heart of Marlborough, New Zealand's premier wine region. The Coastal Pacific ends its epic voyage in the quaint port of Picton, in perfect time for the afternoon Interislander ferry to Wellington.

For more information about this tour, price queries and updates on specials, please Enquire Now.