Winter is a magical time to experience the South Island, and there is something romantic and dreamy about the TranzApine Winter Wonderland rail journey set against a backdrop of snow.
The TranzAlpine Winter Wonderland round trip self-drive tour takes you from the metropolitan city of Christchurch into the Southern Alps, to experience the winter wonderland of Arthur’s Pass, Franz Josef, Queenstown and Mt Cook.
Your journey begins onboard the TranzAlpine scenic train in Christchurch, taking you into the heart of the Southern Alps for an overnight stay in Arthurs Pass. You have time to get a taste of the National Park – drop in to the Visitors Centre and explore one of the short walks, such as Bridle Veil Falls Walk or the Devil’s Punchbowl Walk.
From Arthur’s Pass you continue on the TranzAlpine train to Greymouth on the rugged West Coast. Here you will pickup a rental car and its time to explore at your leisure. There’s lots to do on the West Coast and we’ve made some suggestions in the itinerary below. With some activities its a good idea to book ahead and Loco Journeys can help you arrange this.
Leaving Greymouth, you meander south to Franz Josef. A gem of a town on the edge of the rainforest. A special treat awaits you here as you enjoy your own private wood-fired hot tub, nestled in a lush rainforest setting. A chance to soothe away the days travelling in the comfort of warm water in a very unique atmostphere. An unforgettable experience!
Next stop is the adventure capital of the world – Queenstown – where you stay for 2 nights. In winter this town is alive with the buzz of visitors to the snow. There are a myriad of activities that await you – from a day’s sking or snowboarding to a leisurely wine tour of the Gibbston Valley. We’ve included entry and a drink at the Minus 5 Ice Bar where you will be dressed up warm to explore the intricately Ice carved world.
Mt Cook is your last destination of winter wonderland before returning to Christchurch. Take time to go through the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre at the Hermitage Hotel, explore one of the walking/biking trails, Big Sky Stargazing or have the ultimate ice adventure with a boat tour to view the Tasman Glacier!
Please contact LOCO for any pre/post travel arrangements we can help you with beyond your Winter Wonderland package.
TranzAlpine Winter Wonderland Highlights
The magnificent ride through the Alps on the TranzAlpine Scenic Train
Be wowed by the ice sculptures in the Minus 5 Ice Bar in Queenstown
Playtime in the snow!
Snow-capped vistas of Arthur’s Pass, Franz Josef, Queenstown and Mt Cook
LOCO Journeys can tailor-make this tour to a journey that delivers you to your desired destinations, your time, budget and the train timetable.
Fully Flexible Tour
TranzAlpine Booking Classes
The TranzAlpine 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 TranzAlpine 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.
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.
TranzAlpine Winter Wonderland Accommodation
Bella Vista Greymouth and Bella Vista Franz Josef offer the perfect no-fuss central accommodation. You will be assigned a comfortable, warm Queen Studio unit with ensuite bathroom.
Holiday Inn Express and Suites is a brand-new hotel in a prime location in Queenstown offering stylish rooms and free breakfast.
Aoraki Court Motel offers spacious, modern accommodation within the Aoraki/Mt Cook Village. Each motel unit has stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
For a detailed itinerary, the TranzAlpine timetable, departure days, and TranzAlpine fare conditions, please see below.
Day 1 | Christchurch - TranzAlpine Train - Arthur’s Pass
Your journey begins 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. Today you will only travel as far as Arthur's Pass in the heart of the Southern Alps. You will have the afternoon free to check out the Vistor's Centre and perhaps explore one of the popular short walks such as Bridle Veil Walk and Devil's Punchbowl. Your accommodation is at the Arthur's Pass Alpine Motel which is 300m walk from the station. There is a restaurant and cafe only a short walk from the Motel where you can dine.
Day 2 | Arthur's Pass - TranzAlpine Train - Greymouth
This morning after breakfast and checking out of your motel make your way back to the Arthur's Pass Railway Station to continue your journey on the TranzAlpine Scenic Train. After exiting the Otira Tunnel you will notice that the scenery changes from Alpine to lush rainforest. On arrival into Greymouth, you will pick up your rental car which will be dropped off in Christchurch at the end of your trip. This afternoon you are free to explore at your leisure. Perhaps take a drive to Punakaiki Blowholes and Pancake Rocks. You may want to hop on a Monteith's Brewery Tour or visit Brunner Mine Site. Your accommodation is at the Bella Vista Greymouth which is close to the town centre. Tonight head down the road to Buccleugh's Restaurant for dinner.
Day 3 | Greymouth - Franz Josef
Your drive today to Franz Josef will take just over 2 hours. We suggest you stop in Hokitika for a look around the arts and crafts. Drive out to the Hokitika Gorge for a look at the stunning turquoise waters or walk in the canopy at the Treetops Walkway. If you get to Franz Josef with time to spare, you might fancy a heli and snow landing on the Glacier or check out the West Coast Wildlife Centre. Your accommodation tonight is at the Bella Vista Franz Josef. After check-in head to Waiho Hut Tubs for a 60 minute hot tub experience nestled in the rainforest. A great way to relax into your holiday.
Day 4 | Franz Josef - Queenstown
This morning you head further south away from the West Coast to Central Otago via the dramatic Haast Pass and the beautiful lakes of Wanaka. From Wanaka you head through the Cardrona Valley, Its worth a afternoon stop at the Historic Cardrona Hotel before climbing over the Crown Range into the Wakatipu. Make sure you stop at one of the look outs for the stunning vistas. The drive will take about 5 hours. Your accommodation for the next 2 nights is the Holiday Inn Express and Suites. A great location to enjoy the nightlife of Queenstown.
Day 5 | Queenstown
Today is yours to enjoy at your leisure. If you fancy a day on the slopes, a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw steamship across for a bbq lunch at Walter Peak, meandering around the shops, a ride up the gondola or a winery tour of Gibbston Valley Wines, there is something for everyone. Later this afternoon or evening be wowed inside the intricately carved ice world at the Minus 5 Ice Bar with entry and a drink included in your package.
Day 6 | Queenstown - Mt Cook
Today you leave Queenstown behind. Meander out via Gibbston Valley with its many wineries through the Kawarau Gorge to Cromwell. Driving through the Lindis Pass is unlike any landscape in New Zealand. Its high tussock covered mountains create a stunning landscape in all seasons. In winter, snow can cover this area so please take care. If time permits for a stop, the town of Omaramara is home to the Clay Cliffs and more hot tubs. Its also a great stop for refreshments or petrol before you do the last leg via Twizel and Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook. The drive will take around 3 hours. If you arrive early afternoon you may have time to check out the Sir Edmond Hillary Centre or take a boat trip like no other to view the Tasman Glacier. Your accommodation tonight is at the Aoraki Court Motel, situated in the Mt Cook/Aoraki Village. A great place to dine out tonight is the Old Mountaineers Cafe. Opening times vary so ring ahead to check so that you aren't disappointed.
Day 7 | Mt Cook - Christchurch
Wake up to the stunning vistas of the National Park. Today you are on your final journey to Christchurch. A 4 hour drive that takes you past the beautiful lakes of Pukaki and Tekapo and the little township of Fairlie and the bustling Geraldine before arriving into Christchurch where your tour ends. Please don't hesitate to contact Loco Journeys if you would like help with other travel arrangements such as flights or accommodation.
For more information about this tour, price queries and updates on specials, please Enquire Now.