There are limited scheduled passenger rail services in New Zealand, however this itinerary takes advantage of all the services operating and provides rail fans with the opportunity to visit some of the many preserved rail sites with vintage locomotives that are located throughout the country. Journey through the North Island from Auckland to Wellington with road detours to view Waitomo Caves and the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. In the South Island rail from Picton to Christchurch and through the Southern Alps to Greymouth on the West Coast with road trips to Franz Josef Glaciers, Queenstown Resort, the natural beauty of Milford Sound to the Scottish city of Dunedin.

New Zealand Rail Experience

Combine Rail with Self Drive Rental Vehicle – Private Car & Driver/Guide – Group Tour

(Note these days there are limited scheduled rail services in New Zealand, however this itinerary is designed to take advantage of the services that do operate and also provide rail fans with the opportunity to visit some of the many preserved rail sites with vintage locomotives that are located throughout the country)


Arrive at Auckland International Airport where you will be met by our staff who will provide the final touring documents and vouchers for your New Zealand tour. Then transfer to the hotel by private car and driver. The balance of the day is free to rest.


Your choice today of a half day Discover Auckland Tour by coach; a visit to the Museum of Transport and Technology where there is a static collection of vintage trains and trams, a visit to the Mainline Steam Depot to view operational steam locomotives and others in various states of restoration; and / or a visit to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway which is located in the countryside 45 minutes drive south of Auckland. This is best planned for a Sunday when there are usually trains steamed up and operating.


Depart Auckland on the Overlander train and travel south through the Waikato Valley, which is an important dairying region to Otorohanga where you will be met and transferred to the famous Waitomo Caves for a guided tour. In the afternoon travel on to Rotorua by coach. In the evening enjoy a hangi dinner and concert of Maori song and dance on a Marae.


Morning Rotorua Highlights Tour by coach includes a guided tour of Te Puia – the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve to see the geysers and other weird thermal activity and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where young Maori are being taught traditional carving and weaving skills, a visit to lovely Rainbow Springs to see the trout and rare kiwis, and the popular Agrodome farm show.

In the afternoon travel by coach across the Mamaku Ranges to Hamilton – New Zealand’s largest inland city.


Depart Hamilton on the Overlander train and travel to Wellington. En route you will pass through the lush Waikato dairying region and Hamilton City. Continue through Te Kuiti and the once forbidden King Country where the train crosses some amazing viaducts over deep gorges, and climb the famous Raurimu Spiral, which is a masterpiece of 19th century railway engineering. On a fine day there will be good views of the mountains of Tongariro National Park including volcanic Mt Ruapehu, which erupted spectacularly in 1995 and again in 1996. Pass through the towns of Waiouru, Taihape and Palmerston North City. Cross the Manawatu Plains and travel down the Kapiti Coast into Wellington City. Food is available from the buffet car. Arrive in Wellington at 7.25 pm.


Free day to explore New Zealand’s capital city. Suggest take the cable car to Kelburn and walk down through the Botanic Gardens to Parliament buildings and around the waterfront to Te Papa – the National Museum of New Zealand where there are some excellent exhibits and inter active displays. Other options for rail fans include visiting the Steam Inc workshops at Paekakariki, the Silverstream Railway in the Hutt Valley or the Fell Engine Museum in Featherston.


Depart Wellington on the ferry and cruise across Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island. The last part of the voyage through Queen Charlotte Sound is especially scenic.

At Picton board the Tranz Coastal train for a scenic journey to Christchurch, travelling through Blenheim and the Marlborough wine region and down the Pacific Coast through Kaikoura.


This morning take a half day Discover Christchurch tour by coach featuring the city centre, the Canterbury Arts Centre, Botanic Gardens and including the popular International Antarctic Centre. Then in the afternoon visit Ferrymead historic village where there are a number of vintage locomotives and trams operating on the site of New Zealand’s first public railway. There is also the option here of taking in the show “Chronicles of Uitara, Lost in our own land”, about the affects of 19th century European settlement on the Maori people which involves an operating vintage steam train.


\Depart Christchurch on the popular Tranz Alpine train and travel across the sheep and cropping farmlands of the Canterbury Plains through Porters Pass to Arthur’s Pass in the heart of the mighty Southern Alps. The alpine scenery is spectacular. Pass through the Otira Tunnel under the Alps and descend through native rainforest to Greymouth, which is the largest town on the West Coast. Travel south by coach or rental car through forests and farmlands to Franz Josef Glacier. If self driving there is the option of stopping at Shantytown to ride the bush tramway there. Time on arrival to view the Franz Josef Glacier, which is a huge river of snow and ice that flows from vast snowfields high in the Southern Alps almost to sea level. There is the option of scenic flights over the Glacier.


Depart Franz Josef and travel south past the Fox Glacier and through magnificent rainforests and inland across the Haast Pass. The scenery is spectacular with high snow capped peaks all around. Descend past glacial Lakes Wanaka and Hawea to Wanaka Township on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Wanaka is a very popular holiday resort, with a wide choice of outdoors activities such as trout fishing, boating, river rafting, hiking trails, golfing and lots more. From Wanaka it is a 75-minute drive to Queenstown travelling past Lake Dunstan, through the fruit growing area around Cromwell and via the rugged Kawarau Gorge and Gibbston Valley Wine area into Queenstown.


Free day for your own choice of sightseeing – and there is lots to choose from in this wonderful alpine resort including an exhilarating excursion across the Central Otago countryside on the vintage Ab class steam locomotive the Kingston Flyer (seasonal). In the evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the 1912 vintage lake steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Sheep and Cattle Show for a farm show and dinner at the homestead.

Day 12 - MILFORD SOUND DAY TOUR (Coach/air)

This morning travel by coach around Lake Wakatipu in the lee of the Remarkables Ranges and across the picturesque Southland countryside to Te Anau and into Fiordland National Park. The scenery is stunning with high mountains and deep valleys carved out by ice age glaciers. There are clear rushing streams and cascading waterfalls set in magnificent native rainforest. Stop en route to see the Mirror Lakes and The Chasm. On arrival at Milford Sound cruise down the fiord past Mitre Peak to the open sea. Seals, penguins and dolphins are often seen. Lunch is served aboard. In the afternoon return to Queenstown on a wonderful scenic flight, which will provide you with panoramic views over Milford Sound, high mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers and lush rain forest.


Depart Queenstown on a full day tour travelling by coach north through the Kawarau Gorge and Central Otago farming country. Pass through Cromwell, which is a major fruit and grape growing area and past Lake Dunstan. View the huge Clyde hydro dam on the Clutha River and drive through the picturesque Central Otago countryside and isolated townships such as Omakau to Pukerangi. Here board the Taieri Gorge Excursion train, which will take you through the hills down to Dunedin on the pacific Coast following the trail of 19th century gold miners to the gold fields of Central Otago. You will be amazed by the skills of railway engineers of the time who laid the track through such difficult terrain. There are some wonderful viaducts across deep valleys and delightful stone bridges. Arrive in Dunedin where you will be delivered to your accommodation.


Free day. Dunedin was originally settled by the Scots and retains a good deal of tartan character. Suggest today visit the Royal Albatross Colony -- the only mainland nesting place in the world for these magnificent seabirds. Also visit Penguin Place to see the rare Yellow Eyed Penguins from especially constructed “hides”. For rail fans suggest a visit to the Ocean Beach Railway.


Today fly out of Dunedin to Christchurch or Auckland and connect with your flight home.


The Auckland / Hamilton / Wellington Overlander Rail Service only operates daily over New Zealand’s summer months, as does the Kingston Flyer.

There are several vintage / private railways in New Zealand which are open to visitors. For example The Glenbrook Vintage Railway, The Goldfields Railway, the narrow gauge Driving Creek Railway, Weka Pass, The Plains Railway, and Pleasant Point. Most of these only have trains running on the weekends.

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