Great Southern Steam Train Tour – from Christchurch

Experience the adventure, the nostalgia, the romance of steam train travel on this 13 day tour to Wellington. Take a step back in time to a bygone era for an epic steam train journey exploring the majestic South Island of Aotearoa.

Journey with us into the deep south of New Zealand and experience the postcard perfect vistas and dramatic alpine scenery that this part of the world is renowned for.

You will start your journey departing Christchurch on the iconic TranzAlpine via Arthur’s Pass. Then we begin the traverse inland on luxury coaches to experience the wonders of Franz Josef, Milford Sound, Queenstown and Te Anau. In Invercargill, you will meet the star of the show, the historic WW1 memorial steam locomotive Ab608 Passchendaele, (named in honour of our fallen soldiers at The Battle of Passchendaele in 1917) and travel the entire length of the South Island (visiting Dunedin, Oamaru, Christchurch and Marlborough) steam-hauled, in the comfort of vintage carriages.

Tour Highlights

  • TranzAlpine Rail Journey
  • A soak in the hot pools at Franz Josef
  • Cruising Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw
  • Day Trip to the stunning Milford Sound
  • Exploring the historic townships of Te Anau, Queenstown, Arrowtown and Akaroa
  • A visit to the Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill
  • A OCHO Chocolate Factory Tour in Dunedin
  • High Tea & Garden Tour at Larnach Castle
  • Visiting Moeraki Boulders
  • Whitestone Cheese Tour in Oamaru
  • Blue Penguin viewing in Oamaru
  • Steam Tug Boat OR City & Tram Tour in Christchurch
  • Seal Colony Guided Walk in Kaikoura
  • Visit to the Store Kekerengu and Winterhome Garden tour
  • Yealands Estate winery tour
  • Farewell Reception at The Wine Station, Blenheim
  • Cruise on the Interislander Ferry

Tour Options

There are several tour options. Here’s a guide to help you find the right departure:

  • Christchurch to Christchurch, 10 days – departs 24th April 2021
  • Christchurch to Wellington, 13 days – departs 24th April 2021
  • Wellington To Christchurch, 13 days – departs 22nd April 2021
  • Blenheim to Christchurch, 12 days – departs 23rd April 2021
  • Wellington to Invercargill, 8 days – departs 22nd April 2021
  • Blenheim to Invercargill, 7 days – departs 23rd April 2021
  • Invercargill to Wellington, 7 days – departs 30th April 2021

Please note, southbound departures from Wellington & Blenheim are now SOLD OUT

Duration: 13 Days

Price: From $5,950 NZD

Departure From: Christchurch

Departure Date: 24 April 2021

Tour Type: Group Coach and Rail Tour

Meal Plan: B&B and selected meals

Physical Grading: 2

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Tour Inclusions

  • Transportation by train and luxury coaches that will escort the train throughout the journey, providing seamless transfers to your accommodation and excursions.
  • Prepaid Attractions:
    – TranzAlpine Rail Journey
    – Franz Josef Hot Pools
    – Walter Peak Homestead
    – Cruise Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw
    – Arrowtown Lakes District Museum
    – Akaroa Township Tour
    – Milford Sound Day Trip (cruise is optional)
    – Takahe Sanctuary
    – Bill Richardson Transport World
    – OCHO Chocolate Factory Tour
    – High Tea & Garden Tour at Larnach Castle
    – Moeraki Boulders
    – Whitestone Cheese Tour
    – Blue Penguin viewing in Oamaru
    – Steam Tug Boat OR City & Tram Tour
    – Seal Colony Guided Walk in Kaikoura
    – Visit to the Store Kekerengu and Winterhome Garden tour
    – Yealands Estate winery tour
    – Farewell Reception at The Wine Station, Blenheim
    – Cruise on the Interislander Ferry
  • Accommodation of at least 4-star rated properties
  • Services of a professional tour guide
  • Meals as indicated within the itinerary; 12 breakfasts and 12 dinners including:
    – Dinner at Walter Peak Homestead
    – Farewell Dinner at The Wine Station in Blenheim
    – Lunch at Tuatapere, Southland
    – High Tea at Larnach Castle
    – Lunch at The Store, Kekerengu

Pricing Notes

  • Advertised price based on per person, twin share
  • A 10% non-refundable deposit is due at time of booking and 40% due in December 2020
  • Optional activities listed in itinerary will be booked and billed separately.
  • Full balance of tour payment due in March 2021.
  • A single supplement is available for $500NZD
  • Price is subject to change unless paid in full
  • Flights to and from your points of arrival/departure
    are not included. Please contact LOCO Journeys if you would like a quote.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass to Franz Josef
Your journey begins with a Meet and Greet at Christchurch Railway Station, where the iconic TranzAlpine awaits. Often regarded to be one of the world’s great train journeys for the scenery through which it passes. The journey is 223 kilometres oneway, taking almost five hours. You will see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the majestic Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest. Luxury coaches await in Greymouth to transport you to your hotel in the ruggedly beautiful Franz Josef. Passengers stay at the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef.
Wake up to enjoy some pampering at the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools and options are available for helicopter tours of the glacier. Leaving Franz Josef, we travel along the West Coast through the Haast Pass, journeying through native beech forest and over the Southern Alps. This remote area has a ruggedly beautiful landscape of vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. After a tea break in Makarora on the border of Mount Aspiring World Heritage Park, we pass by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Dunstan, Lake Wanaka, and Lake Hawea. The adventure playground of Queenstown then awaits! Cap off a special day as we take in The Remarkables Mountain Range and the view of Lake Wakatipu from the hotel. Passengers stay at Copthorne Hotel Lakefront which is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, within walking distance of Queenstown’s central shopping and entertainment area. The hotel offers panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu and surrounding mountain peaks.
Spend a leisurely day exploring Queenstown. Later in the afternoon, we join a lake cruise on board the historic TSS Earnslaw, the 1912 Edwardian steamboat, which takes us across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm for dinner. Passengers stay at Copthorne Hotel Lakefront which is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, within walking distance of Queenstown’s central shopping and entertainment area.
Departing Queenstown, we call in to visit the historic and picturesque goldmining town, Arrowtown, on the banks of the Arrow River and taking in the Lakes District Museum. Continuing our journey through the Fiordland National Park district, we stop off to see the Te Anau glowworms caves. The Te Anau caves are a culturally and ecologically important system of limestone caves on the western shore of Lake Te Anau. We spend a couple of aweinspiring days experiencing the wonders of Te Anau and Milford Sound. Passengers stay at Distinction Hotel Luxmore.
Traveling along the Milford Road (between Te Anau and Milford) is one of the finest alpine drives in the world. The scenery is exceptional, ranging from broad grassy flats, dense rainforest and towering mountains through to glacial lakes and alpine herb fields. A day tour to Milford Sound offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery to be viewed anywhere in the world. Board the coach and travel through stunning scenery along the Milford Road and into Fiordland, where your cruise boat awaits you. The tour includes a cruise around the fiord so you can experience its wonders up close and see landmarks like Mitre Peak and amazing wildlife, such as dolphins and seals. Cruise the inmost reaches of Milford Sound to the open Tasman Sea and back. A one-day itinerary is enough to see all the beautiful views along the way, take a scenic cruise around the fiord, and get back to Te Anau in time for dinner. Passengers stay at Distinction Hotel Luxmore.
As we depart Fiordland National Park district, continuing to traverse the Southern Scenic Route, our journey by coach calls in to visit the Takahe Bird Sanctuary. Takahe are the stars of the show and meeting these prehistoric-looking characters is a ‘must do’ for Fiordland visitors. The sanctuary is a large part of the success of the Takahe Recovery Programme. Then a lunch stop at Tuatapere Café, followed by a visit to the Te Hikoi Museum in Riverton, the South’s ultimate heritage attraction, just 25 minutes from Invercargill on the Southern Scenic Route. The museum features authentic life size displays, adventurous characters and engaging stories. These reveal how our Maori and European ancestors adapted to survive on nature’s edge. An experience not to be missed. Famous Bluff oysters will no doubt be on the menu this evening. Passengers will stay at The Ascot Park Hotel, adjacent to the racecourse and with a relaxed and spacious layout.
Passengers may choose to relax in Invercargill, taking in the famous Bill Richardson Transport World or take an optional scenic flight or ferry to the wonderful Stewart Island, home to amazing wildlife and stunning scenery Departing Invercargill later in the day, we introduce you to the star of the tour, the historic WW1 memorial steam locomotive Ab608 Passchendaele, (named in honour of our fallen soldiers at The Battle of Passchendaele in 1917) - the Marlborough Flyer steam train as she is more recently known. Then it is “all aboard” and onward past the edge of the Blue Mountains to the town of Gore, and then northwards to Dunedin. Passengers will stay at Scenic Hotel Southern Cross which is Dunedin’s most established hotel, nestled in the heart of the city.
The morning starts with a guided tour and tasting at the new OCHO craft chocolate factory where they turn cacao into chocolate bars. OCHO moved into the new premises in January 2019 and are eager to share the OCHO experience with chocolate lovers with every part of their production process on display. We will then coach to historic Larnach Castle, is one of New Zealand’s premier visitor attractions, which is situated on the picturesque Otago Peninsula. Lovingly restored by the Barker Family, the Castle and surrounding grounds are at the heart of the Dunedin visitor experience. Passengers arrive in time for refreshing high tea in the Ballroom Café followed by a guided garden tour. Passengers will stay at Scenic Hotel Southern Cross which is Dunedin’s most established hotel, nestled in the heart of the city.
Departing North towards Oamaru, we call in to Moeraki Boulders, a group of large spherical “stones” on Koekohe Beach near Moeraki on the Otago coast. These boulders are actually concretions that have been exposed through shoreline erosion from coastal cliffs. The boulders are one of the most fascinating and popular attractions on the South Island. We arrive in one of New Zealand’s many towns of character, Oamaru. Gourmet cheese is then on the menu as we explore the Whitestone Cheese Factory, home of some of the world’s finest cheeses and you’ll be treated on a guided tour which includes a cheese and wine pairing. The Blue Penguin Colony in Oamaru is similarly not to be outdone, has specially designed nesting boxes for your convenience as well as stadium grandstand seating for your viewing pleasure, to see the penguins arrive home in the evening. Passengers will stay at Brydone Hotel – “fine accommodation and libations since 1881”- or the North Star.
The morning departure from Oamaru is by steam train as we set out further towards Timaru where we stop for lunch. Afternoon options on arrival in Christchurch include exploring the harbour on the historical steam tugboat (Tug Lyttelton Est. 1907) or a historical tram tour of “the garden city”. Passengers will stay at the luxurious and newly renovated Distinction Hotel in Cathedral Square, located in the heart of Christchurch.
Our destination is Kaikoura, home of resident whales, where the guardians of the seas – the mountains of the Southern Alps – rise majestically from the deep trenches of the Pacific Ocean. Several different species of whale can be seen off the coast of Kaikoura at different times of the year, and most of the time, the huge resident Sperm Whales can be sighted. The ocean trench just off the coast means sperm whales are often seen close to shore. There will be a leisurely Seal Colony Walk followed by optional excursions for whale, dolphin and seal watching (by boat or plane). Passengers will stay at The White Morph Hotel (or equivalent), taking in spectacular views of the Kaikoura Esplanade.
We continue to take in the spectacular coastal journey as we depart Kaikoura. We steam ahead for Kekerengu where we disembark for lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean at “The Store”. We also enjoy a garden tour at the beautifully manicured Winterhome formal garden. Boarding again, we stop at Seddon and disembark for a wine tour at the award winning, Yealands Estate. Then it is “all aboard” and onward North via the Dashwood Pass and Awatere Valley into Blenheim – the famous Marlborough wine region boasting over 100 vineyards. A farewell reception is appropriately held at The Wine Station where guests can taste from a selection of 80 of the region’s finest wines and craft beers, barista coffee and gourmet platters of local produce. Passengers will stay at Scenic Hotel Marlborough, a modern and stylish property located in the heart of Marlborough’s wine country town of Blenheim.
On the final day of the tour, we coach from Blenheim to Picton, where one of the most picturesque ferry crossings in the world awaits. We cruise across the Cook Strait then weave our way through Queen Charlotte Sound to the harbour city of Wellington. Tour ends in Wellington.

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