The Great New Zealand Rail Tour - RNZR20 (GRT)

Mike and Stephie
Oct 27, 2020

Join us on this great New Zealand rail tour and experience the Northern Explorer. New Zealand’s longest running passenger service. Travel from Auckland to Wellington, stopping at Palmerston North, Ohakune, National Park and Hamilton.

The journey through Tongariro National Park, with its three spectacular volcanic mountains – Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu – is a highlight, a place of extremes and surprises, where snow-blanketed fields, ancient lava flows and dense beech forests can be seen side by side. Explore Wellington, cross the Cook strait on the Interislander and board the Coastal pacific train. Spend a night in Christchurch before joining the TranzAlpine express for one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. Visit Hokitika, Greymouth and Punakaiki rocks before returning to Christchurch where your tour will conclude.



7.45am Depart Auckland Strand Railway Station aboard the Northern Explorer. 

Alternatives: Depart from Papakura, Hamilton or Otorohanga (times to be advised).

Sit back and relax and enjoy the scenes of suburban Auckland and rural Waikato dairy farmland on the way to Otorohanga. Continue south through the central North island and the Tongariro National Park with magnificent views of mountains and spectacular scenery including the famed Raurimu Spiral, a major engineering feat. Arrive in Wellington early evening. On arrival you will be met and transferred to our hotel and base for 2 nights.  Accommodation at Ibis Wellington Hotel, or similar. There’s the option to join other group members for our included welcome dinner at the hotel this evening. D

Day 2. Tuesday    WELLINGTON

Morning sightseeing includes Wellington's most famous sights including Parliament Buildings, Marine Drive, Oriental Bay, and an included ride on the famous Wellington cable car to the Botanic Garden and return.

There are two optional tours to choose from this afternoon.

The first optional tour includes… a visit to the fabulous TE PAPA Museum and then to ZEALANDIA - the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. The 225 hectare ecosanctuary is a ground-breaking conservation project that has reintroduced over 20 species of native wildlife back into the area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years. .

The second optional half day tour is… the LORD OF THE RINGS tour: This half day tour takes you to the best locations in Wellington City. Explore key sites in the film-making process with your specialist Lord of the Rings guide. We start with a drive past the Embassy Cinema, which hosted the world premieres of The Return of the King and An Unexpected Journey. You then visit the Mt Victoria lookout for stunning views across Wellington City and Harbour, before a short descent into a unique pine forest where Peter Jackson began the filming of his epic trilogy. You see such scenes as the “Dunharrow Encampment,” “Shortcut to Mushrooms,” “Race to the Buckleberry Ferry,” and the iconic “Get off the Road” scene, where the Hobbits hid from the Black Riders.

We then go to Miramar, the home of the Wellington film industry, to visit WETA WORKSHOP – the company who designed and fabricated almost everything Middle-earth. We show you the studios and post-production facilities that helped bring these films to screen before settling at the Weta Workshop. Here you have a chance to pose for photos with various characters and marvel at the craftsmanship of the sculptures, armour and weapons on display, and pick up those essential souvenirs and gifts.

Here you watch a behind the scenes documentary that details the history of the Weta company, from its origins through to present day, and enjoy an exclusive behing-the-scenes tour. This fascinating, insider’s look delves into the creativity and ingenuity needed to create the physical effects for some of the biggest and best movies ever, not just Middle-earth! You’ll be surprised by how many films have been made here. It will leave you amazed at the influence Weta has had on the film industry and see why we call the area “Wellywood.” We conclude this part of the tour with a scenic drive around the harbour back to the city. B


Transfer to the Interislander terminal for the cruise across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds into Picton. Here we join the "Coastal Pacific" train for the scenic ride down the Kaikoura Coast to Christchurch arriving early evening. You will be met and transferred to your accommodation. B

Day 4. Thursday     CHRISTCHURCH

We have left today free for your own activities. Your hotel is in the centre of the city. Optional tours are available of the city, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, Akaroa and Antarctic Centre. B

Day 5.   Friday     SOUTHERN ALPS – WEST COAST

Transfer to the railway station and join the "TranzAlpine" express for one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world across the Canterbury Plains and climbing through the foothills of the Southern Alps frequently crossing the Waimakariri River on the way to Arthurs Pass for a brief break. Travel through the Otira tunnel and descend into the rainforest of the West Coast. Pass Lake Brunner and the Grey River. On arrival in Greymouth you will be met by your local guide and after a short tour of Greymouth including the Monteiths Brewery, try your hand at Gold Panning and ride the steam train at Shantytown. Then head southfor an orientation tour of Hokitika.  Accommodation 3 nights at Hokitika Beachfront Hotel or similar. B

Day 6.  Saturday    HOKITIKA

This morning we visit Hokitika Gorge for a short walk among the breath-taking scenery and a leisurely Eco - cruise on the Lake Mahinapua waterways originally used by gold diggers and early explorers. Continue to the West Coast Treetop walkway for a treetop adventure in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi trees with views of Lake Mahinapua, Southern Alps, and Tasman Sea.  Following this there is free time to explore at leisure and enjoy the rugged West Coast scenery. B

Day 7.    Sunday    HOKITIKA

Free day – see options below. B


Drive north to Greymouth  and  continue through the coal mining towns of the area to the amazing Punakaiki Rocks ijn the Paparoa National Park. Explore the area  then return to Greymouth to re-join the "Tranz Alpine" for your journey across the Southern Alps to Christchurch. You will be transferred to your hotel. Included farewell dinner with fellow travellers tonight. Accommodation overnight at Ramada Suites Hotel or similar. B,D

Day 9. Tuesday    CHRISTCHURCH

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for departure. B


  • Guaranteed subject to availability with minimum of 2 adults.
  • Wellington optional tours each plus $149 per person.
  • Hokitika optional day tour to the gold fields at Ross, Franz Josef Glacier, and Lake Matheson - extra cost $245.  (N.B: November to March there is also the option to visit the amazing Okarito White Heron eco sanctuary).


  • Rail, ferry and coach transport from Auckland to West Coast and  Christchurch (or vice versa)  including Northern Explorer, Interislander, Coastal Pacific and Tranz Alpine train.
  • Wellington tour
  • Christchurch tour
  • Tranz Alpine" Chirstchurch to Hokitika
  • West Coast touring including Monteiths Brewery, Shantytown, Hokitika Gorge, Eco cruise, Greymouth, Punakaiki.
  • Meals: B = Breakfast, D = Welcome and Farewell dinners


  • Airfares or other items not specified as included in the final itinerary

Tour Dates:

On request

Tour commencing from either Auckland or Christchurch.

  • Southbound itinerary: Commences Auckland and concludes in Christchurch. 
  • Available weekly from Monday 12 October 2020. 
  • Northbound itinerary: Commences Christchurch and concludes Auckland. 
  • Available weekly from Thursdays from 09 October 2020.

Tour Cost:

  • Cost $3,890 pp - No single supplement charge.
  • Single supplement plus: On request

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