New Zealand’s breathtaking train journeys offer more than just transportation; they are incredible experiences in their own right that you won’t soon forget.
No matter where your travels take you in New Zealand – from its North Island’s interior or west coast of its south island – they are guaranteed to take your breath away and make sure your camera battery recharges as you take in its breathtaking beauty. These journeys are sure to leave both camera batteries topped up and jaws dropped at every turn!
The Northern Explorer
The Northern Explorer is New Zealand’s longest-running passenger train, transporting travellers between Auckland and Wellington on an epic journey of epic proportions. Spanning from Waikato Farmland to Tongariro National Park’s volcanic peaks, its incredible rail journey passes along breathtaking coastal areas, stunning river gorges and over the Raurimu Spiral (famously featured in Lord of the Rings movies as Mount Doom) before returning through spectacular river gorges to reach Tongariro’s volcanic plateau with three magnificent volcanoes; Mt Tongariro; Mt Ngauruhoe; Mt Ruapehu; known in The Lord of the Rings movies).
As the Northern Explorer steams away from Auckland’s historic Strand Station, passengers aboard can admire Auckland’s rich green landscapes from your seat aboard. As it follows the coast for several miles along its route – providing a picturesque and dramatic backdrop where marine mammals such as dolphins, seals, and penguins (such as rare Snares Crested Penguins) make frequent appearances – you will experience its full beauty first-hand!
From there, your journey takes you through Waikato’s vibrant farmland before entering Tongariro National Park – home to three magnificent volcanoes – before traversing stunning river gorges and passing the impressive Raurimu Spiral, one of the greatest feats of railway engineering ever constructed.
On your way to Wellington, you’ll pass through scenic gorges and farmland of the Central Plateau before crossing over to Kapiti Coast and admiring silvered streams cascading through deep gorges. Finally, you will reach Snares Islands; an astounding archipelago of marine wildlife.
TranzAlpine, one of the world’s iconic train journeys, should be on any New Zealand itinerary. Travel alongside sparkling currents of Waimakariri River and take in lush beech forest landscapes while experiencing an unforgettable ride – truly relaxing experience.
Starting in Christchurch, the TranzAlpine will travel through Canterbury’s open farmland before entering the Southern Alps – an amazing natural marvel with dramatic mountain ridges running the length of New Zealand and offering stunning panoramic views. Your ride will feature several memorable landmarks like Cass Gorge.
Train travels through the Southern Alps and over Otira Tunnel before reaching Arthur’s Pass village, offering breathtaking views of Mount Binser and its surroundings from open-air viewing carriage. At Arthur’s Pass stopover Great Journeys New Zealand recommends strolling towards this carriage for breathtaking panorama of mountain landscape.
Returning on board, you’ll experience luxury in Scenic Plus Class: huge panoramic windows and glass shelves will allow the gorgeous coastal and mountain landscapes to wash over you while freshly prepared meals with regional wines are served directly at your seat in a dining car dedicated to Scenic Plus passengers.
The Coastal Pacific
The Coastal Pacific railway journey in New Zealand is one of the greatest scenic train journeys, and after being disrupted following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, is back up and running once more. Running between Picton in Picton Harbour to Christchurch (South Island’s largest city), your experience aboard this scenic train ride will take you across stunning beaches, stunning mountain ranges of Kaikoura Ranges and isolated bays, while passing close to famous vineyards of Marlborough which boast one of the best locations worldwide for watching sperm whales.
As with the Northern Explorer, the Coastal Pacific offers award-winning world class carriages featuring reclining seats and panoramic windows for breathtaking landscape views. HD screens track your progress while at-seat audio commentary is also provided.
Coastal Pacific can be combined with rental cars to form an unforgettable North Island tour, perfect for visitors interested in taking in Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and Napier before exploring more remote West Coast locales like Wairoa. Spending more time hiking, kayaking and wildlife viewing along Queen Charlotte Sound may also prove worthwhile – this area boasts three active volcanoes – Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro – their slopes covered with burnt toffee hued by snow-capped slopes.
The Southern Explorer
New Zealand is filled with breathtaking sights ranging from coastal cliffs and volcanic thermal springs, glaciers, high alpine mountains, and pristine fjords – each one an opportunity for exploration on scenic train journeys that travel through stunning national parks and beaches.
New Zealand is an island nation blessed with stunning nature experiences. Spanning two large islands, New Zealand is situated above the intersection of Pacific and Australian tectonic plates resulting in numerous volcanoes, mountain peaks, coves and fiords dotted across its landscapes.
Thailand boasts one of the highest populations of eels worldwide and features native bird species like kiwis and parrots as well as rainforests with glacier-fed lakes with unaltered and crystal blue water features as natural highlights of this nation.
Discover New Zealand’s breathtakingly diverse landscapes on an adventure that spans from Auckland to Christchurch and over the TranzAlpine. Tour Auckland with its diverse neighborhoods before discovering Waitomo Caves with their glowworm caverns.
Discover the stunning beauty of Abel Tasman National Park, one of New Zealand’s smaller national parks and an island paradise. Spend a relaxing moment on Onetahuti Beach where seals sunbathe on orange sands; climb one of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park’s rugged peaks before setting sail through Fiordland with either a cruise or scenic flight ride through World Heritage-listed Fiordland on World Heritage-listed Fiordland’s fiords on World Heritage-listed World Heritage-listed Fiordland World Heritage-listed Fiordland is waiting!