Sea Side – Mountains – KiwiRail

Duration: 20 Days
PAX: 2-6

Tour

Overview

This rail adventure takes you on a guided tour on many of New Zealand’s fabulous railway lines. Travel on the “Northern Explorer” through the volcanic plain of the North Island.

Ride on the “Coastal Pacific” on the South Island along the Pacific coast. Travel on the TranzAlpine in spectacular fashion over the New Zealand Southern Alps, and feel the touch of a bygone era with a nostalgic train journey through the narrow valley of the Taieri Gorge.

A unique characteristic of this trip is a visit to the locomotive depots of the Taieri Gorge Railway and the Ferrymead Heritage Parks.

Tour

Highlights

  • Northern Explorer
  • Coastal Explorer
  • Taieri Gorge Railway
  • TranzAlpine

Tour

Essentials

Day 1 - Arrival in Auckland

Transfer to your accommodation, just a short walk from the centre and harbour of Auckland.

Location: Auckland
Accomodation: Hotel
Meals: N/A

Day 2 - Auckland - Tongariro National Park with the "Northern Explorer"

Journey begins in the “Northern Explorer”, destination Tongario National Park. Just before the first stop at “National Park” station, the train crosses the famous Raurimu spiral, a masterpiece of engineering architecture. From the settlement “National Park”, the journey continues on the tour bus to the beautiful Lake Taupo (ca. 1.5 hours).

Location: Taupo
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3 - Photographic highlights Raurimu Spiral and Makatote Viaduct

In the morning, we return to the Raurimu Spiral. This offers the opportunity for unique photo shoots, when the “Northern Explorer” or a freight train (timetable – dependent) overcomes three hairpin turns, two tunnels and an ascent of 132 meters. Another stunning photo point is located at Makatote Viaduct. Transfer back to Taupo in the afternoon.

Location: Taupo
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 4 - Day trip to Rotorua

This day is all about culture and nature. Visit to the geothermal wonderland “Wai-O-Tapu”. Here geysers and hot springs provide an insight into five million years of geologic history. The evening will be filled with lots of folklore and a “hangi” (traditional Maori dish and gathering) in a Maori village.

Location: Taupo
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: Dinner

Day 5 - Tongariro NP – Wellington with the "Northern Explorer"

About 1am the journey continues on the train from National Park Station. The “Northern Explorer” passes through the beautiful sights of several volcanoes, such as Mt. Ruapehu, Tongariro und Ngaruahoe, across typical New Zealand farmland to the coast down to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.

Location: Wellington
Accomodation: Hotel
Meals: N/A

Day 6 - On the way to the South Island

The morning provides time to discover Wellington and to visit the New Zealand National Museum TE PAPA. The name of the museum comes from the Maori language and means “The place of treasures of this land”. The ferry to the South Island and Picton leaves in the afternoon.

Location: Picton
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 7 - Scenic Marlborough Sounds

A boat ride into the Marlborough Sounds, lets you discover the natural beauty of New Zealand from a different perspective. The branched sounds are habitat for many marine creatures, wildlife and numerous birds. The Marlborough region is also well known for their first-class Sauvignon Blanc, which taste delicious in combination with the “Greenlip” mussels which thrive here particularly abundant in the bays.   The “Queen Charlotte Walkway” one of the most beautiful coastal walks in New Zealand is also located in the Marlborough Sound and easily accessible for hiking. Return by boat to Picton in the afternoon.

Location: Picton
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 8 - Christchurch with the “Coastal Pacific”

Time to hop on the train again. At lunch time the “Coastal Pacific” heads south toward Christchurch. Along one of the most beautiful coastal sections the railway leads through Blenheim, the town with the most sunshine hours in New Zealand (according to the residents of Blenheim). It follows the vineyards of the Marlborough region, passing a huge flat area that is used for sea salt production known as the “icing on the cake” for New Zealand. In some areas the railway line meets the coast so close to the water edge that you could almost touch the waves. An unforgettable adventure.

Location: Christchurch
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 9 - Christchurch - Dunedin

Now the journey continues in the bus along the coast to Dunedin, reputably the most Scottish city outside of Scotland. On the way stop in Oamaru, the centre of the so-called “steam punk movement” and a city that resurrects “the old days”. Maybe we visit the Little Blue Penguis Colony, or, outside of the city, the Yellow-eyed Penguin Colony.

If we leave Christchurch early enough, another stop at the “Moeraki Boulders” – fascinating geological ball formations on the beach – is possible.

Tip: Dinner in a country-style restaurant with live music as possibility.

Location: Dunedin
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 10 - Dunedin – A glance behind the scenes

Day trip with the tour bus to the Otago Peninsula with a side trip to Larnach Castle, the only castle in New Zealand (visit optional). Situated at the end of the peninsula “Taiaroa Head” is home to a colony of the Royal Albatross and the rare yellow-eyed penguins. In the afternoon, a visit to the depot of the Taieri Gorge Railway.

Location: Dunedin
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 11 - Taieri Gorge Railway

A nostalgic train on the “Taieri Gorge Railway” leads through the Taieri Gorge to Middlemarch or Pukerangi. The train journey starts in Dunedin in one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world. The drive through the beautiful countryside with its amazing landscapes and canyons makes this trip a special experience. Central Otago has a gold mining tradition and on the coach back to Dunedin we pass through “abandoned lunar landscapes”, relics from time gone by. If the time allows, we stop at a still active gold mine, Macraes Flat.

Location: Dunedin
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 12 - Dunedin - Milford Sound - Te Anau

Bus drive to Te Anau. From Dunedin we travel off the beaten, touristic tracks via the Catlins to Te Anau. On the way we visit the Viewing Point Nugget Point and the “Petrified Forest” in Curio Bay. The so-called petrified forest is about 180 million years old and offers possibilities for a walk. Close by we could visit Surat Bay, a home for sea lions and seals.

Location: Te Anau
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 13 - Te Anau - Queenstown

In the morning, we drive to Milford Sound – the 8th Wonder of the World. The tour leads into an area where the nature is unchanged since the last glacial period. The “Fiordland National Park” is a world heritage area and a boat trip through the dreamy backdrop of the sounds, surrounded by 1200 meters high, almost vertical rocks is breathtaking and mystical. We reach Queenstown in the afternoon.

Location: Queenstown
Accomodation: Hotel
Meals: N/A

Day 14 - Free day in Queenstown

Queenstown offers a broad range of activities (optional). Whether you are interested in jet boats, bungee jumping, rafting or a steamship cruise on the Lake Wakatipu including a visit to a farm or rather taste the Central Otago wines at a local vineyard – almost anything is possible.

Location: Queenstown
Accomodation: Hotel
Meals: N/A

Day 15 - Queenstown - Franz Josef Village

A day of travel to the West Coast – if time permits in the morning, stop at a winery below the mountain range of the “Remarkables”. This offers the chance for another wine tasting and any purchase you feel “necessary”! Or would you prefer local chees this time? The bus continues through the mountains via the “High Country” driving past large lakes, above the Haast Pass into the rain forest and to the West Coast. The final destination for the day is the small settlement Franz Josef, located near the glacier of the same name.

Location: Franz Josef
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 16 - Free day in Franz Josef

Optional program:

  • Hike through the rain forest to the glacier (up to approx. 400m in front of the glacier face)
  • Scenic flights by helicopter over the Southern Alps and landing on the glacier.
  • Glacier hike. With the helicopter onto the glacier, hop off and walk the glacier with a local guide
  • Just enjoy the mountain panorama of the New Zealand Southern Alps.
  • Finish the day with a swim in the “Glacier Hot Pools’ – and gaze above to the Southern Cross.
  • Boat trip on the Okarito Lagoon

Location: Franz Josef
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 17 - Franz Josef - Greymouth

The journey continues along the wild coast line to Greymouth, a city with an interesting and curious past. On the way or in the afternoon a visit to Shanty town (10km before Greymouth).

Shanty Town: Over 30 historic buildings take you back to the time of the “gold rush” in the 1860s. An old, still operating steam train of type 508 – Avonside Engine Company, Bristol, England (built in 1879) invites you on a tour.

Try your luck and use the frying pan to wash gold like in the old times. Maybe you can take a nice souvenir back home.

Location: Greymouth
Accomodation: Motel
Meals: N/A

Day 18 - Greymouth – Christchurch with the "TranzAlpine"

A morning excursion to the famous Pancake Rocks (Punakaiki) which were formed 30 million years ago. Back in Greymouth the “TranzAlpine” departs the Wild Westcoast around noon on one of the most beautiful train rides in the world through the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. The train crosses large viaducts, narrow gorges and the magnificent Waimakariri valley. An unforgettable experience! The train arrives in Christchurch later this evening.

Location: Christchurch
Accomodation: Hotel
Meals: N/A

Day 19 - Christchurch

The last day offers a visit to the “Ferrymead” Railway museum as well as the steam museum “Steam Scene”. In the evening will be a hearty farewell dinner organised for you. (Farewell dinner in the “Tramway Restaurant”)

Location: Christchurch
Accomodation: Hotel
Meals: Dinner

Day 20 - Departure from Christchurch

Transfer to the airport and departure.

Tip: Individual extension of your holiday, eg beach holiday in the Cook Islands or Tonga or a couple of days in the High North of New Zealand in a luxurious Homestay with view of one of the most beautiful natural harbours of the world – Whangaroa.

Owing to possible changes beyond our control (eg weather or changes in accommodation), we reserve the right to confirm the final itinerary approximately 2 weeks prior to departure.

What is included in this tour:

  • Transport by People Mover and shuttle transfers to and from airports in New Zealand
  • German and English speaking guide
  • All accommodation in good 3-4 stars class hotels/motels (rooms with shower and toilet)
  • Meals as per itinerary / B = Breakfast, D = Dinner
  • All train rides, Ferry from North to South Island as described in the itinerary
  • Visit of the Taieri Gorge Railway Depot
  • Ferrymead Heritage Park
  • Steam Scene Museum
  • Visit to a Maori village including Hangi (meeting/food)
  • Excursion to Milford Sound
  • Visit to Thermal Park “Wai O Tapu Wonderland”
  • Boat trip into the Marlborough Sounds
  • Option to hike on the Queen Charlotte Track
  • Visit to gold mining “Shanty Town”

What is not included in this tour:

  • International flights
  • Optional excursions

During the Train trip travelling on Northern Explorer, Pacific Coastal, Taieri Gorge Railway and TranzAlpine you are traveling without a guide, since the tour bus will be taken to the respective stations where you will board the bus again.

Owing to possible changes beyond our control (eg. weather or unpredictable changes in accommodation, schedules of KiwiRail), we will confirm the final itinerary approximately 2 weeks prior to departure.

Meals

Breakfast on the day of arrival is included in the price and offers the opportunity to meet the tour guides and group. On other days you can have breakfast either in the hotel or visit any of the nearby cafes. Prices range between $18 and $30 NZD (e.g. “Continental”or “Cooked” breakfast). Two dinners are also included and most accommodation have cooking facilities, microwave and sink, partly electric cooker or hob / electric frying pan, if you want to cater for yourself. Your guide will give you tips for shopping and usually knows a good restaurant.

Accommodation

The right choice of overnight stays is very important to us, for at the end of an active day, every guest wants to relax in comfortable and pleasant surroundings. In cities such as Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown, we choose centrally located 3-4 star hotels/motels. In other areas we prefer selected accommodation, “NZ-owned and operated” where possible, combining authenticity with the comfort of good 3-4 star accommodation.

Queen Charlotte Track Options

Early morning boat trip into the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. Target is one of the bays, such as Ship Cove. From here, the most beautiful section of the Queen Charlotte track starts to Furneaux Lodge (approx. 5 hours). Alternatively, you can also go directly to Furneaux Lodge by boat and do easier and shorter walks and enjoy the bay. In the afternoon, the boat returns to Picton. Requirements for the walk from Ship Cove: Moderate coastal hike with some steep ascents and descents, especially in the beginning, height difference 150m.