New Zealand Rail Adventure itinerary
|2022||City / Port|
|Fly from Australia to Auckland.
Welcome to New Zealand! You are met on arrival at the Auckland International Airport before being transferred to your hotel. Auckland, gateway to New Zealand, is a modern city set on a narrow isthmus between the restless Tasman Sea and the calmer waters of the Pacific Ocean. The Waitemata Harbour, one of the city’s greatest treasures, is a mecca for sailors, and the popularity of sailing on the harbour has led to the affectionate term, ‘City of Sails’. The volcanic cones of One Tree Hill and Mt Eden are characteristic of the legacy of over 60 craters and cones concentrated in an area which is geologically unique.
Accommodation: Airedale Suites, Auckland (D)
|Auckland to Wellington – This morning we depart Auckland on the Northern Explorer train for a full day scenic rail journey through the heart of the North Island to Wellington. En route pass through picturesque farming country and forests. A highlight will be the climb up the famous Raurimu Spiral, which was a masterpiece of 19th century railway engineering. See rural towns and villages, the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park and the sea views as you travel down the Kapiti Coast into Wellington. On arrival in Wellington, we’ll be met by our touring coach and driver and will be transferred to our accommodation.
Accommodation: James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Wellington – 2 nights (B,D)
|Wellington – Today we enjoy a rail journey to the town of Featherston on the local Wairarapa line, which passes the 8.8km long Rimutaka Tunnel. Here we’ll pay a visit to the fascinating Fell Locomotive Museum and discover an abundance of rail history and technology, including the H199, the only locomotive of its type in the world. Following this, we travel via coach a short way to Upper Hutt, where we’ll visit the eclectic collection of the Silver Stream Railway, and enjoy a ride on a diesel electric hauled goods train and an ex Public Works Department steam train (Barclay 1749) before travelling back to Wellington by coach, arriving in the late afternoon. (B,D)|
|Wellington to Blenheim – This morning board the Interislander for a journey described as, “one of the most spectacular ferry rides in the world”. Journey across the Cook Strait to Picton, then on arrival board our coach for the short drive to Blenheim. After stopping for lunch in Blenheim (own cost) we board the little narrow-gauge Riverside Railway from Brayshaw to Omaka. Here visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre home to a collection of military aircraft from both World Wars, displayed in brilliantly realistic dioramas created by the magic of Weta Workshop and WingNut Films, including Sir Peter Jackson’s own WW1 aircraft and artefact collection. Dinner is included at the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Chateau Marlborough – (B,D)
|Blenheim to Christchurch – Today depart for a scenic drive to Christchurch. Stop at Waikari to embark on an exclusive private charter of a vintage railcar on the historic Weka Pass Railway. Travel on the 12.8-kilometre scenic line through stunning limestone formations, down the escarpment to the Canterbury Plain. This round trip is an hour in total, and it showcases the exceptional beauty of the Waikari and Waipara areas. Following
this, continue onto Christchurch. Tonight, we dine on the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant, a colonial-style dining tram, incorporating fine food with city sightseeing on the reconstructed, historic tram network.
Accommodation: Rydges Latimer Hotel – 2 nights – (B,D)
|Christchurch – Hit by devastating earthquakes in 2011 and 2012, Christchurch lost many of its heritage buildings and churches. However, it is being rebuilt and the city is as vibrant as ever, with its open air markets and the innovative Cardboard Cathedral. Start the day with a half-day city tour with our first stop being the Ferrymead Heritage Park, an early 1900s (Edwardian) township complete with its own school, church, jail, railway station and more. Next, visit the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, the national museum for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and New Zealand military aviation. Set on the site of a former air base at Wigram, this is home to a collection of aircraft telling the story of military aviation in New Zealand. More than just planes, it’s also about the people who crewed and serviced them. From pre-World War I, through the formation of the RNZAF in the 1930s, and then World War II to the present day, the mostly original aircraft are supported by displays and other artefacts that bring the airman’s experience to life. While here we enjoy a fully-guided ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour delving into the collections areas. Dinner tonight is at your leisure. – (B)|
Christchurch to Franz Josef – Today we have a full day of railway highlights and changing landscapes. An early start this morning as we board the TranzAlpine train to Arthurs Pass, a scenic rail journey across the fertile Canterbury Plains and into the heart of the mighty Southern Alps. Travel across towering viaducts, through spectacular gorges and river valleys and into the lush forest of Arthurs Pass National Park. Our coach will meet us in Arthurs Pass, and we make our way to the popular heritage park, Shantytown. Here, there will be time to enjoy lunch and explore the living museum. Take a ride on the vintage steam train and experience gold panning in the alluvial streams that flow through the area. Departing, travel by coach along the scenic West Coast to arrive in Franz Josef in the early evening.
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel – (B,D)
|Franz Josef to Queenstown – Today we enjoy a day of ever-changing spectacular coastal, rainforest, and alpine scenery. The journey along the West Coast features native rainforest, wetlands, bush-fringed lakes, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. At Haast head in-land over the Haast Pass, the lowest of the South Island Mountain passes crossing the Southern Alps. Once over the Pass the scenery changes dramatically as the road descends past Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea and into Central Otago. Continue past stone fruit orchards and through the rock hewn Kawarau Gorge to Queenstown stopping en route at the historic gold-mining town of Arrowtown.
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Lakefront – 2 nights – (B,D)
|Queenstown – At leisure.
Queenstown has a plethora of optional sightseeing activities available from jet-boating on the thrilling Shotover Jet; a jet-boat excursion along the scenic and remote Dart River; winery tours to the premier Central Otago wineries; 4WD tours into unforgettable Skippers Canyon; scenic flights; fly-fishing or if you dare – bungy jumping or tandem sky-diving! Extra cost for optional sightseeing excursions.
We re-group this evening for an unforgettable steamship cruise. Steeped in Queenstown’s pioneering history, our experience commences with a cruise across Lake Wakatipu in the 1912 vintage steamship, the TSS Earnslaw. Disembark at Walter Peak High Country Farm, one of the first farms set up in the region and still a working farm. In the ambience of the Colonel’s Homestead, enjoy a delicious gourmet BBQ dinner which the chef will prepare in front of you. After dinner enjoy an entertaining brief farm experience including a sheep shearing demonstration. On the magical night-time cruise home, enjoy the camaraderie of a sing-a-long with the ship’s pianist or breathe in the fresh night air on the moonlit decks as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer. – (B,D)
|Queenstown to Milford Sound / Te Anau – Leaving Queenstown we skirt the shores of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s third largest lake. Travelling via Te Anau we reach the beautiful Eglinton Valley climbing to Homer Tunnel before descending through the spectacular Cleddau Canyon to reach Milford Sound where we enjoy a cruise of the Sound. The Sound is dominated by the grandeur of Mitre Peak and the Bowen Falls. From Milford Sound we return to Te Anau reaching our overnight accommodation.
Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau – (B,L,D)
|Te Anau to Dunedin – Departing Te Anau we travel through some of New Zealand’s most populated sheep country to Lumsden and on to Gore before arriving in Dunedin – “the Edinburgh of the South”. On arrival, travel out to the Otago Peninsula and Larnach Castle. Enjoy a guided tour of the castle, set high on the hills above Otago Harbour, and built in 1871 with a unique collection of New Zealand antiques and furniture. Climb the tower for unique panoramic views over Otago Harbour, Dunedin City and Taiaroa Heads and explore the vast grounds and picturesque gardens.
Accommodation: The Victoria Hotel – 1 night – (B)
|Dunedin to Christchurch – On the last day of our adventure, journey back to Christchurch by coach. On the way, stop at Oamaru, a gorgeous harbour town famous for some of New Zealand’s best 19th century architecture. Here, enjoy lunch (own cost) and pay a visit to Whitestone City in the Victorian precinct of Oamaru. Set in an original grain store built in 1882 and located within New Zealand’s most complete streetscape of Victorian commercial buildings, Whitestone City is a central heritage hub that facilitates interactive tours of the Victorian Heritage Precinct. Fit-out in the style of a colonial town, where activities, displays, merchants, and an array of people in costume provide a glimpse of what the street would have been like in the town’s early days. Live displays, video imaging and plenty of interaction will immerse visitors in a living, breathing past. The next stop is the Pleasant Point Railway, to enjoy an exclusively chartered ride on their impressive little steam train. A farewell dinner is included at the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Rydges Latimer Hotel – (B,D)
|Christchurch – Farewell from New Zealand. Today you will be transferred from the hotel to Christchurch Airport to connect with your homeward flight. – (B)|