Join us on this scenic guided New Zealand rail highlights tour through the heart and soul of New Zealand. Immerse yourself in history, culture, and geology as you travel off the beaten track through New Zealand’s regions.
Travelling from Auckland to Queenstown on each of the Great Journeys, your New Zealand rail highlights tour wil enable you to enjoy the changing landscapes, local tales, terrific hospitality and a rail-based New Zealand holiday that will live long in the memory.
This is the perfect option for those who enjoy free time to create their own adventure while having the structure of a guided expert. Meet like-minded travellers and share this journey of a lifetime on a truly magnificent expedition.
Boarding in Auckland, your first few days are aboard our Northern Explorer train travelling through the volcanic heart of the North Island. Cruising between islands, the Interislander journey takes a leisurely course around Wellington Harbour and through the magnificent Marlborough Sounds to Picton.
From Picton, you’ll voyage through vineyards and along the Pacific Coast to Kaikoura and then Christchurch aboard the Coastal Pacific train. Your final journey is aboard the TranzAlpine train, traversing the Southern Alps on a breathtaking journey from east to West Coast.
New Zealand Rail Highlights Top Experiences
Encounter the volcanic peaks of Middle Earth in Ruapehu
Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand’s City of Sails! Auckland is known for its multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts, and culture. Your great journey will officially begin the moment you check into your hotel room. After reading your welcome letter from your Tour Director, head out and explore all that Auckland has to offer. This is the perfect opportunity to visit the Sky Tower or shop along bustling Queen Street. You may even fancy a drink in one of the charming bars or eateries of Vulcan Lane. After an exciting day on the town, join your fellow travellers as well as the Tour Director at this evening’s welcome reception. A welcome drink is included in tonight's reception.
Day 2 | Auckland -Northern Explorer Train - Ohukune (B,D)
Today you will marvel at rural New Zealand’s lush landscapes from the comfort of your seat onboard the Northern Explorer scenic train journey. From the green pastures of the Waikato to the icy mountain streams of Ruapehu, you won’t want to miss a moment. If you are interested in culture and history, enjoy the audio commentary as you cross historic viaducts and traverse up the Raurimu Spiral. This experience is one like no other. For the next two nights, you will stay in Ohakune. This charming town is the adventure base for the Tongariro National Park - home to three volcanic mountains. Tongariro National Park is also recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Join your fellow travellers for dinner.
Day 3 | Ohakune - Ruapehu & Tongariro National Park (B)
Today is free for you to discover one of the region's many exciting excursions. Choose from the optional activities on offer and personalise your perfect holiday. Perhaps you will enjoy a hot tub soak, or a meander along the lazy river. If you're after an active day, why not explore Ohakune’s historical cycle trail? Rent e-bikes and discover old viaducts, tunnels, old settlers’ camps and reclaimed native forests along the Old Coach Road!
Day 4 | Ohukune - Northern Explorer Train - Wellington (B)
After breakfast, we begin our day by travelling to the Tūroa ski field. You won't want to leave this mini excursion to Middle Earth without a panoramic photo in hand! Joining the Northern Explorer train once again, you will wave goodbye to Ohakune as you settle into your uber-comfortable seat. Don’t get too comfortable though; dramatic rivers, gorges and ravines are just around the bend! Stretch your legs and explore the open-air carriage to acquire the best view on the train. As you glide through rich green farmland and past a dramatic coastline, why not indulge in a treat from our onboard licensed café? All too soon the train will arrive into Wellington leaving the picturesque Porirua Harbour behind. You have arrived at Wellington Railway Station. Welcome to New Zealand’s windy capital! You won't want to waste a moment of time after checking into the hotel - your evening is free to explore this award-winning culinary capital from Queen's Wharf, Cuba Street and beyond.
Day 5 | Wellington (B,D)
The perfect day does exist – and it includes exploring Wellington! Today is free for you to experience vibrant Wellington as you please. Start by joining our Wellington City introduction tour and then heading off to explore Cuba street’s cafes, bookstores and eccentric shops. Get cultured at the Te Papa Museum or Zealandia to uncover the rich stories of Aotearoa New Zealand. You won’t get bored with the plethora of activities on offer. From urban eco-sanctuary, cable cars, botanical gardens and more, the list goes on! If you need any suggestions or recommendations, just reach out to your experienced Tour Director.
This morning you will say Haere ra to Te Ika a Maui (good-bye to the North Island) as you sail to the South Island, crossing the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry. As the shores of the North Island slowly disappear, enjoy a hearty seafaring breakfast on board. Around mid-day, you will be spoiled with harbour views entering the Queen Charlotte Sound. Admire the beauty of this coastal paradise as you arrive at the gateway of the South Island, Picton. Step off the Interislander Ferry and join your next world-class experience on a Marlborough Wine Tour!
After enjoying a delightful breakfast, the morning is yours to explore sunny Blenheim. Enjoy the roses at Upton Oaks Garden or perhaps learn a thing or two about aviation at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. You’ll hear the hoot of the Coastal Pacific train as it pulls in to bring you on yet another scenic experience. This time – along the rugged coastline of the South Island. On this train journey, you will glide across remote beaches, between mountains and sea, on a timeless voyage of breath-taking beauty. Keep an eye out for the fur seals lazing on the rocks! Once in Kaikoura, the evening will be yours to enjoy some iconic kai moana (seafood) at one of the well-known restaurants.
Today will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will have the opportunity to go whale watching! Enjoy today’s optional thrill of an up-close encounter with the world's largest-toothed predator, the Giant Sperm Whale. Want to get an aerial experience of the wildlife? Why not request a plane or helicopter ride to capture the true grandeur of it all? Whether you have decided to go llama trekking or swimming with the dolphins and seals, we're sure you will be feeling peckish. Head to the beach to sample some iconic New Zealand food - you can't go wrong with the humble Kiwiana fish and chips. Work off the deep-fried delights by wandering through the wonderful array of local artisan stores and souvenir shops. In the late afternoon, your journey will continue, once again, on the Coastal Pacific Train en route to Christchurch, or “The Garden City”. The spectacular scenery doesn’t cease to amaze as you journey south through the rolling hills and flat plains. Enjoy the relaxing journey with a glass of wine in hand and a hit meal from the scenic café.
Day 9 | Christchurch (B,D)
Christchurch, the hub for South Island exploration is also a wonderful city that blends modern architecture and technology with the existing 19th-century Anglican influence. Often remembered for its earthquake in 2011, the city is still rebuilding itself into a multi-cultural haven. So, without further delay, jump on the historic tram to learn the history, tales and culture of Ōtautahi Christchurch. Enjoy your free time as you explore the Arts Centre, Quake City Museum, Antarctic Centre, and botanical gardens. Ride on the city tram to uncover Christchurch's great history. There is also a multitude of delicious cafes tucked into quaint side streets we're sure you will love. If you are in the mood for something different, set off for Akaroa, an ‘incroyable’ French coastal settlement just outside the city. Dinner awaits as you join your fellow travellers once again to tell them about the exciting places you discovered.
Day 10 | Christchurch - TranzAlpine Train - Greymouth (B)
The moment has come to experience the world-famous TranzAlpine journey through the Southern Alps to the West Coast! On this fantastic escape, you will see epic vistas, soar on the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and experience miles of native beech forest. The natural scenery isn’t the only marvel though. The TranzAlpine will also pass through the Otira Tunnel, a true engineering marvel of almost 100 years! Once you arrive on the West Coast, you will travel even further off the beaten track by coach to Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. Here you will walk amongst limestone formations before finishing your day in the coastal town of Greymouth.
Day 11 | Greymouth - Franz Josef (B)
This morning you start your West Coast adventure by visiting one of the South Island’s most popular activities– The Treetop Aerial Walkway. This elevated adventure will get you acquainted with the locals – the ancient Rimu and Kamahi trees of course. After your sky-high experience, you will continue south into Glacier Country. Franz Josef glacier is quite unique in that it survives in coastal rainforest temperatures. On this short walk to a viewpoint, you'll get a fantastic view of the valley with Franz Josef glacier as the main event. If you’d prefer to get up close, we recommend booking an optional helicopter flight. This will ensure you are getting the best possible view of this natural wonder. After our glacial experience and checking into our hotel, you’ll have some free time to enjoy Franz Josef town. Indulge in a little retail therapy, the helicopter flight, nature walk or tap into some natural tranquillity at the hot pools.
Day 12 | Franz Josef - Queenstown (B)
Heading southwards, enjoy exploring the Southern Lakes region as you marvel at the sublime scenery. From glacier country, you will tread through the incredibly dense West Coast rainforest. In the distance, enjoy the spectacular picture-perfect mountain peaks as you journey along the cliff-tops. After enjoying Haast, you will continue south through the dramatic Haast Pass and alongside impeccable lakes. The next stops will have you sipping aromatic coffee and perusing through the delicious South Island fruit selection of fruit stalls. Charming and quirky Arrowtown is next on the itinerary. After an exciting plunge into the gold rush village history, you have arrived in the world-famous resort town of Queenstown!
Day 13 | Queenstown (B)
Today we highly recommend you join an excursion to the 8th Wonder of the World - it truly is a remarkable experience. Milford Sounds/ Piopiotahi is a scenic escape approximately three hours from Queenstown. The natural landscape will engulf you as you waltz through plunging valleys and towering peaks. This could possibly be one of the most scenic drives you'll experience in your lifetime! Take this encounter to the next level by booking a return visit by plane or helicopter and soar like the Piopio (ancient bird) back to Queenstown. Whether you’ve decided to hop aboard the steamship lake cruise on the iconic TSS Earnslaw, or marvel at the power of ancient roaring rivers - tonight you have the night to indulge in Queenstown's exciting nightlife. Sip cocktails and indulge in the sparkling views of Lake Wakatipu.
Day 14 | Queenstown (B,D)
Queenstown truly has something for everyone. Personalise your day to be as active, or relaxed as you’d like. Whether it’s sipping wine in Gibbston Valley, or bungy jumping with AJ Hackett, there is no shortage of activities to delight your senses. This evening you’ll come together as a group for a farewell dinner before departing.
Day 15 | Queenstown (B)
Departing Queenstown Your journey will end after enjoying a final breakfast with your fellow travellers. Tour Ends. Please advise your LOCO Journeys consultant at the time of booking if you require transfers or flights to onward destinations.
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