13 Day Ultimate New Zealand Rail Journey

Experience many train journeys such as Driving Creek in the Coromandel, the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine trains as you travel around New Zealand.

13 Day Ultimate New Zealand Rail Journey

Join us on this 13 day tour covering much of New Zealand. With four train journeys included and many opportunities for additional train / tram spotting, this tour is sure to please railfans of all ages.

Tour Type: Rail Tour
From: Auckland to Christchurch
Departs: Daily
Duration: 13 days
Tour Code: RT13U

Regions Visited

Click on the region name to view more information about the region

Auckland, Coromandel, Wellington, Picton and Marlborough Sounds, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Dunedin, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Haast, Franz Josef, Greymouth

Tour Inclusions

  • 7 day car hire
  • All additional transport & transfers
  • 12 nights accommodation
  • Superior accommodation includes breakfast
  • Coromandel Day Tour
  • Northern Explorer train
  • Interislander ferry
  • Coastal Pacific train
  • Whale Watch tour
  • Sunset Nature Harbour cruise, Dunedin
  • Milford Sound coach & cruise
  • Skippers Canyon 4WD & Jet Boat
  • TranzAlpine train

Day By Day Itinerary

DAY 1: WELCOME TO AUCKLAND
Auckland City Sights and Harbour Cruise Tour

On arrival at Auckland Airport you will be met and transferred into the city. You have time to explore the “City of Sails” at your leisure. It is a short walk down to “the viaduct”, a vibrant area with many restaurants and cafes.

Stay: Auckland

DAY 2: COROMANDEL DAY TOUR
Coromandel Tours

This morning you will be collected from your accommodation for your small group tour to the Coromandel Peninsula. It is a 90 minute drive to Thames, from there you will follow the “Firth of Thames” up to Coromandel town . You will visit Hot Water beach (tide dependent), Cathedral Cove and Driving Creek Railway where you can ride the personally designed and built mountain railway through the rugged landscape and native forest.

After taking so much diversity you will be returned to your Auckland accommodation.

Stay: Auckland

DAY 3: AUCKLAND / WELLINGTON - NORTHERN EXPLORER TRAIN
NZ rail journeys

You will be collected form your hotel and transferred to Britomart for your wonderful Northern Explorer train journey – a stress free train trip to Wellington. This takes you along the entire 681 kilometres of the North Island Main trunk line. Through a variety of scenery, from volcanoes, coastlines, farmlands and mountains. You will view engineering feats such as the viaducts at the gorges of Rangitikei and the Ruapehu District. On arrival into Wellington’s historic Railway Station you will be met and transferred to your accommodation

Stay: Wellington

DAY 4: WELLINGTON / CHRISTCHURCH - COASTAL PACIFIC TRAIN
New Zealand tours

Today begins by cruising on the Interislander. The ferry leaves from Wellington CBD, as you cruise through Wellington Harbour and into Cook Strait, through the Tory Channel and Marlborough Sounds arriving at Picton Terminal. It is a short walk from Interislander terminal to Picton Railway Station where you will board the Coastal Pacific Train.

The Coastal Pacific train is a truly spectacular journey with the Pacific Ocean lapping at its wheels on one side and the Kaikoura ranges rising majestically on the other. Keep an eye out for seals as they rest on the rocks. On arrival at the small seaside settlement of Kaikoura you will be met and transferred to your accommodation.

Stay: Kaikoura

DAY 5: KAIKOURA / CHRISTCHURCH - COASTAL PACIFIC TRAIN

This morning you have time to explore this wonderful seaside village. This morning you will join a Whale Watch trip. Enjoy this unique whale watching experience, an up-close encounter with the world’s largest toothed predator, the giant sperm whale. Look out for other wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and birds. Looking back to land view the prestigious mountain range.

After you whale watch excursion you have ample time to board the Coastal Pacific Train to Christchurch. View the ocean you have just explored, before heading inland to the rolling hills and lush farmlands of North Canterbury – Crossing braided riverbeds before arriving into Christchurch. You will be met at the railway station and transferred to your accommodation.

Stay: Christchurch

DAY 6: CHRISTCHURCH / DUNEDIN
South Island Tours

Collect your rental car this morning and head south to Dunedin travelling through the Canterbury Plains. On arrival into Oamaru we suggest you make your way to the “Victorian Precinct”. Take a step back in time as you view the exquisite buildings from the Victorian era. Leaving Oamaru it’s a short trip to the world famous Moeraki Boulders – photo opportunities abound. Continue south through undulating hills and farmlands to Dunedin – New Zealand’s very own Edinburgh of the South.

This evening you are booked on a sunset harbour cruise. Cruise past Port Chalmers to Taiaroa Head where you can view an abundance of wildlife the region is famous for.

Stay: Dunedin

DAY 7: DUNEDIN AT LEISURE
Tours of New Zealand

A day to explore Dunedin. We highly recommend you make your way to Dunedin Railway Station. A station with unique architecture an iconic photo stop. You may also wish to visit “The Early Settlers Museum and visit ‘Josephine’ – one of two Double Fairlie locomotives brought from England to operate the railway in 1872.

Stay: Dunedin

DAY 8: DUNEDIN / TE ANAU
New Zealand Tours

Today you travel through New Zealand’s prime farmlands where you will see an abundance of livestock and the green, green grasses. Arrive in Te Anau with free time to enjoy the Lake, and mountain views.

Stay: Te Anau

DAY 9: TE ANAU / MILFORD SOUND / QUEENSTOWN
Milford South, New Zealand Tours

This morning you will be collected from your accommodation for the journey through to “Rudyard Kiplings” 8th Wonder of the World, Milford Sound. Sit back and relax as you travel through one of the most memorable highways in the world. Your driver will give a full commentary, with many photo stops on the way – the highway to Milford is as impressive as the destination.

On arrival at Milford Sound, you will board a vessel and travel the length of the Sound to the Tamsan Sea. Make sure your camera is fully charged for this iconic spot. Travel back to Te Anau by coach, collect your car and drive to Queenstown, another scenic wonderland.

Stay: Queenstown

DAY 10: QUEENSTOWN
Queenstown Tours

Today enjoy a 4WD excursion into the historic Skippers Canyon. Whirl and twirl along the Canyon on a memorable jet boat ride. This really will make you think about what the early pioneers achieved during the gold rush days.

This afternoon you are free to explore Queenstown and all it has to offer. Maybe take a trip to historic and beautiful Arrowtown.

Stay: Queenstown

DAY 11: QUEENSTOWN / FRANZ JOSEF
Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk Tour

Time to bid farewell to Queenstown and head north west towards Wanaka. From Wanaka and the beautiful Mt Aspiring National Park, travel into the lush native bush clad World Heritage Area of Haast Pass. Your journey winds out to the West Coast and Tasman Sea and later to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.

Stay: Franz Josef

DAY 12: FRANZ JOSEF / CHRISTCHURCH - TRANZALPINE TRAIN
South Island Tours

It’s farewell to the Glaciers as you continue through rainforest and reflective lakes with the bush opening up to farmlands and the Tasman Sea. You may have time to stop at the rural support town of Hokitika, before continuing on Greymouth.

Here, return your rental and board the world famous “TranzAlpine train.” Once onboard, relax let someone else do the driving, so to speak. One of the most scenic train trips anywhere in the world, crossing the Southern Alps, over viaducts and through tunnels, following the braided Waimakariri River through the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.

Stay: Christchurch

DAY 13: FAREWELL FROM CHRISTCHURCH
Christchurch, South Island Tours

A chance to reflect on the memories you have created as you have travelled around New Zealand by train. You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to Christchurch airport for your departure flight.

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Prices valid from 1st October 2020

Accommodation Standard Superior  
Twin/Double $4,292 NZD $5,179 NZD Enquire / Book
Triple $3,917 NZD $4,957 NZD Enquire / Book
Single $6,346 NZD $8,479 NZD Enquire / Book
Prices are per person and in New Zealand Dollars.

Frequently Asked Questions – Rail Tours

What is a Rail Tour?
Our rail tours are designed to make the most of New Zealand’s intricate Scenic Rail network. As New Zealand’s passenger rail services are limited, we have taken the worry out of the logistics. We have connected the dots for you, so you can travel by rail as much as possible during your time on tour. Our packages include the iconic Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine train journeys. Where possible we have added in some local gems operated by volunteers with in certain regions – all our rail tours have been created with the ferroequinologist in mind. Essentially it’s a very relaxing way to travel.

What dates do your tours depart?
Due to train timetables, rail journeys leave on specific days of the week. Most major services run at least 3 times a week, so let us know your arrival date and we will work out the day your tour will start.  All tours are subject to availability at time of booking.

What is included in the tour cost?
All tours include transfers, rail journeys, car hire (if required), accommodation and sightseeing activities where specified. A detailed travel wallet with your travel vouchers and comprehensive itinerary will be sent to you or delivered to your pre tour accommodation for you to collect on check in.

What is not included in the tour cost?
Expenses of a personal nature such as meals (except where stated in the itinerary), beverages, travel insurance, laundry and optional sightseeing (except where stated in the itinerary) are not included in the tour cost.

What services are provided on the rail journeys?
The major rail services (Great Journeys of New Zealand), offer a buffet dining car providing drinks, tea and coffee, snacks and meals. Bathrooms are also provided. You can upgrade (additional cost) to “Scenic Plus”. This upgrade includes a fully serviced carriage with local cuisine. Please advised us should you wish to upgrade.

Do the local trains run by volunteers offer services on the excursion train?
All these services are round trip excursions, there will be a local café and restrooms usually at the starting pointing and sometimes both ends of the track. Parking is available at these stations. Note: These services are usually historical trains and are short excursions.

What is required to hire a vehicle within New Zealand?
A valid driver’s licence in English is required to hire a rental vehicle within New Zealand.  Please note drivers must be over 21 years to hire a vehicle. If you are aged between 21 – 25 years, a young driver surcharge is applicable. We recommend all clients have a credit card for car rental, the card number is then held for a bond. All vehicles are automatic transmission, we do not offer manual transmissions. Winter conditions may see the need to hire snow chains.

I am travelling alone – can I pay the triple or twin share rate and be linked with other travellers?
No, unfortunately. You must pay the single room – per person cost.

I am travelling with children, what price will I pay?
Please contact us for information on child fares, as these vary based on the specific product you require. Some sightseeing activities are unsuitable for children.

Are any meals included in the tour cost?
Our Superior and Premium accommodation option includes breakfast. No other meals are included in the tour cost except where stated in the itinerary.

Is Halal and other speciality food available in New Zealand? 
Along with a small population of Muslims, New Zealand has an increasing number of Muslim visitors. Halal food and restaurants are now found in many areas of the country, let us now if you require this and we will compile a list for you. We can also offer advice in regards to Vegan and other special requirements.

Can I add in additional nights to a tour?
Yes you can. All tours are very flexible. Please ask one of our Travel Consultants for extra nightly rates.

What is the difference between the two tour types Standard, Superior Tours?
Standard:  Motor Lodge, apartment style accommodation, self-contained accommodation, ensuite bathrooms. Your rental car is a small compact car.

Superior: 4 star hotel accommodation, includes breakfast. Your rental car is a mid-size car.

Note all accommodation is reviewed regularly by staff, we have high standards and good relationships with all our providers.

What if I cannot find exactly what I am looking for on the website?
Let us know what is on your wish list to see and do and we are more than happy to help you plan a customised tour.

How much luggage can I take on my tour?
Each passenger may take 2 pieces of luggage (max 25kg each). For safety reasons, each passenger is limited to one carry on item (max 5kg). We also advise you check the maximum baggage allowance with your chosen airline.

How do I make a payment for a tour?
For bookings made more than 30 days prior to travel, Pacific Travel require a deposit of NZ$50 per person. This deposit is non-refundable. Balance of payment is due 30 days prior to travel. For bookings made 30 days or less prior to travel, full payment is required at the time of booking. Visa & MasterCard are accepted forms of payment. A 2.5% Credit Card Fee applies to all payments by credit card. You may pay via direct bank transfer to avoid the credit card fee. Bank details will be on your booking advice. All prices advertised are in New Zealand dollars and are GST inclusive.

What is your cancellation policy?
If after your booking has been confirmed you wish to cancel, the following cancellation fees will apply:
Cancellations 30 or more days prior to travel: Your deposit.
Cancellations 0 – 29 days prior to travel: no refund.
Booking amendments made by you. An amendment fee may be charged, to cover our administration and communication costs. We may also need to pass on any amendment/cancellation fees imposed by our suppliers.

Conditions of travel
Pacific Travel reserves the right to alter fares, amend itineraries, book alternative accommodation or to cancel tours. Pacific Travel Ltd shall not be held responsible for any loss or damage to luggage or personal effects and/or damage resulting in death or personal injury, which may arise whilst travelling with Pacific Travel Ltd or its nominated suppliers. All transportation, both land and sea, is subject to the terms and conditions of the company providing the transport, some of which limit or exclude liability. These are available from the carriers concerned on request.

Will I need travel insurance?
We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance. Factors may arise that require you to cancel or amend your holiday, so it is essential you are covered for any costs that may be incurred. We recommend purchasing your travel insurance locally at the same time as you book your tour and flights. Pacific Travel Ltd does not sell travel insurance.

Do I need to tip in New Zealand?
If you wish to reward someone for a job well done it is always much appreciated.

Do I need a visa to visit New Zealand?
Most visitors to New Zealand do not require a visa to enter for the purpose of a holiday or vacation under the visa waiver program. If you do need a visa to visit New Zealand then you should contact the New Zealand consulate in your home country well before your departure date. We recommend you also check with your local travel agent or airline for any visa requirements to New Zealand particularly if you are passing through Australia. Information on the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) can be found here: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/about-visa/nzeta

What currency is used in New Zealand?
The New Zealand dollar is the only legal tender in New Zealand. View a guide between your local currency and the New Zealand dollar. Please note: Your tour and all purchases using a credit card in New Zealand will be charged in New Zealand Dollars (NZD) at the current exchange rate at the time of purchase.

13 Day Ultimate New Zealand Rail Journey

Tour Type: Rail Tour Tour Code: RT13U From $3,917 Per Person Departs: Daily Experience many train journeys such as Driving Creek in the Coromandel, the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine trains as you travel around New Zealand. Enquire about this tour

Where this tour will take you...