New Zealand Rail Tour March 2023

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Join us as we explore New Zealand by rail.

We begin our tour in Auckland where we climb aboard the Northern Explorer. Experience the extremes of New Zealand’s scenery, from the fertile farmlands of Waikato to the volcanic peaks of the Central Plateau and the sparkling Kapiti coast. After two nights in the Capital City, we join the Interislander ferry service across the Cook Strait to Picton. It is considered one of the most beautiful ferry journeys in the world!

After two nights in Nelson and two nights in Blenheim, it is time for our next rail journey – the Coastal Pacific train which takes us along rugged coastlines, across remote beaches, between mountains and sea, on a timeless journey of breathtaking beauty.

We overnight in Christchurch before heading to Hanmer and then Hokitika for overnight stays prior to joining our final rail journey, the TranzAlpine. During our journey we’ll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest.

We conclude the tour with another night in Christchurch.


  • Two nights Chateau Tongariro including The Rail River Run tour with Forgotten World Adventures
  • Wellington City Tour, including Weta Workshop & Zealandia tours
  • Lunch at Wither Hills Winery
  • Omaka Air Museum Blenheim
  • Hokitika Treetops Walkway

Additional information

Tour Departs

Tour Length

Wednesday 15 March:               Arrive Auckland                                                            (D)

Meet the group today in Auckland. Tonight, we enjoy a welcome dinner together.


Thursday 16 March:                  Auckland – Tongariro National Park                              (B.D)

This morning, we join New Zealand’s longest running passenger service, the Northern Explorer. We head south via Papakura and Hamilton before reaching Otorohanga, our final stop before we reach Tongariro National Park.

We disembark early afternoon and make our way to our hotel for the next two nights, The Chateau Tongariro.


Friday 17 March:                       Tongariro National Park                                                (B.L.D)

Today, we spend the day with Forgotten World Adventures, doing the The Rail River Run. Travelling along the first section of the Forgotten World Railway, between Okahukura & Tokorima, including the line’s longest tunnel (Tunnel 24 – 1.5km long); combined with a Jet Boat journey along the scenic Whanganui River, between Cherry Grove (Taumarunui) & Ohinepane. Enjoy the best of both worlds, encountering 10 tunnels and 20 bridges, as you travel 40km by rail and 23km by Jet Boat on the Whanganui River, a mixture of nostalgia and adrenaline. Lunch and afternoon tea are included today.


Saturday 18 March                    Tongariro National Park – Wellington                            (B.D)

The morning is at leisure for you to enjoy the surroundings before we re-join the Northern Explorer train mid-afternoon. Travelling via Ohakune, Palmerston North & Paraparaumu, we arrive in Wellington just before 7.00pm. We are collected by coach and transferred to our hotel for the next two nights. We enjoy dinner together at the hotel this evening.


Sunday 19 March                       Wellington                                                                   (B)

To quote a well-known company, Wellington is the Coolest Little Capital in the World. Famous for its food and coffee in various cafes and restaurants there is so much more to the Capital than that.  We will tour some of the best attractions including Te Papa, Weta Workshop and Zealandia. The remainder of the day is at leisure.


Monday 20 March                     Wellington – Picton – Nelson                                         (B.D)

This morning, we check out of our hotel and join the Interislander ferry service across the Cook Strait to Picton. It is considered one of the most beautiful ferry journeys in the world and one of New Zealand’s most iconic experiences. On arrival in Picton, we join our coach and make our way to Nelson, arriving mid-late afternoon. Dinner is at the hotel this evening.


Tuesday 21 March                     Nelson                                                                          (B)

Today we enjoy a morning sightseeing tour of Nelson. See local attractions such as Queens Gardens, The Suter Art Gallery, Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith, Founders Heritage Park and more.

We also visit the Classic Cars Museum. The Classic Car Collection displays a stunning range of cars dating from 1908, all in immaculate condition.

The afternoon is at leisure.


Wednesday 22 March                Nelson – Blenheim                                                         (B.L)

After a leisurely morning, we rejoin our coach and make our way through to Blenheim. On arrival we enjoy lunch at the Wither Hills winery – they take their name from the landmark Wither Hills range that borders their vineyards. At the conclusion, we transfer to our overnight accommodation. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.


Thursday 23 March                    Blenheim                                                                      (B)

After breakfast, we pay a visit to Omaka Air Museum, a world-class destination for the appreciation of historic aircraft. Not just for enthusiasts, the centre retells the story of aviation during two World Wars, the time in which the most intense period of aviation development took place. Here we have a chance to explore the Dangerous Skies WWII exhibition along with the famous Sir Peter Jacksons collection of WWI aircrafts & artefacts in his Knights of The Sky exhibition.

 The remainder of the day is at leisure. A chance to relax or for further self-exploration of this beautiful town.


Friday 24 March                        Blenheim – Christchurch                                                (B.D)

Today, we check out of our accommodation and travel to Upton Oaks Garden, right in the heart of Grape Country. A one-and-a-half-acre site spilling with romantic gardens developed and created to harmonise with the style of the 1911 Victorian Villa. We enjoy a tour of these lovely gardens.

There is time for lunch before we climb aboard the Coastal Pacific, one of the most picturesque rail journeys in New Zealand, meandering along the Pacific coast between Picton and Christchurch. We travel along rugged coastlines, across remote beaches, between mountains and sea, on a timeless journey of breathtaking beauty.

We explore the stunning Kaikōura Coastline, famous for its marine life and whale watching. Voyage through the vineyards of Blenheim, dripping with New Zealand’s premium crop. Canter amidst the idyllic Canterbury countryside to the Garden City of Christchurch. We spend the journey in Scenic Class, which offers panoramic windows and an open-air viewing carriage.

On arrival in Christchurch, we are met by our coach and transferred to our hotel for our overnight stay.


Saturday 25 March                    Christchurch – Hanmer Springs                                      (B.D)
Today we remember one of New Zealand’s most tragic events with a morning tour of the Christchurch City rebuild. It has been nine years since the earthquake occurred in Christchurch on Tuesday 22 February 2011 and since this time, over 40 billion dollars has been invested into development to rebuild the once-vibrant city.

We continue through to Hanmer Springs for an overnight stay, a picturesque alpine town best known for its natural hot pools and dazzling landscapes. There is time this afternoon to relax at the famous Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools. Every drop of thermal water is heated by Mother Nature and infused with minerals – a process that takes 173 years. Ease your aching muscles in the natural rock and Sulphur pools, while savoring the stunning backdrop.


Sunday 26 March                       Hanmer Springs – Greymouth – Hokitika                        (B.L.D)

Today our trip will take us through the red and silver beech forest as we leave Hanmer Springs before travelling through the Lewis Pass and onto the rugged natural beauty of the West Coast.

We stop en route to visit the Brunner Coal Mine Memorial Site to view the historic site of the 1896 disaster. When coal ruled, this was New Zealand’s most important centre of industry, and to this day the Brunner Mine explosion remains New Zealand’s worst workplace accident. The disaster caught the attention of the whole nation and eventually led to improved workplace safety legislation and practices.  Here at the Brunner Mine Site, we can walk through the industrial ruins and see some of the last remaining beehive coke ovens.

We arrive in Greymouth early afternoon and visit Monteith’s Brewery to enjoy a tasting of the local produce over a delicious lunch. This brewery has been family owned since 1868 and are still brewing with the same traditions they used back then. We rejoin our coach for the short stretch through to Hokitika, where we overnight.


Monday 27 March                     Hokitika – Greymouth – Christchurch                            (B.D)

This morning, we visit Hokitika Gorge, a glacial river turquoise in colour surrounded by dramatic rock formations. A short walk descending through the hardwood forest leads to a swing bridge which crosses the Hokitika River and provides a postcard-worthy photo opportunity. we visit the famous Treetop Walkway, a thrilling treetop adventure among temperate rainforest giants. Experience life with the birds, high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. Enjoy a leisurely walk along a steel platform 20 metres high and over 450 metres long and feel the adrenalin rush as you climb to the top of Hokitika Tower 40 metres above the forest floor.

Leaving Hokitika late morning, we travel back to Greymouth, where there is time for a lunch stop before we join the TranzAlpine train mid-afternoon for travel through to Christchurch. The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great train journeys covering 223 kilometres one-way, taking just under 5 hours. Along this journey you’ll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the mighty Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest. Arrival time in Christchurch is approx. 6.30pm.

On arrival in Christchurch, we are met and transferred to our hotel. We enjoy our final dinner together this evening.


Tuesday 28 March                     Christchurch – Home                                                     (B)

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and it is time to bid your fellow tour members farewell. Travellers will be transferred to the Christchurch Airport domestic terminal, to join their return flights home.

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