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New Zealand

Kiwi Specialist .

Graeme Brett of Westoe Travel have been appointed Gold Kiwi Specialist by Tourism New Zealand for our specialist knowledge and experience of New Zealand.
Please call to discuss your ideas for New Zealand and we will help you with suggestions and advice

Explore New Zealand
You can explore the beauty of Aotearoa New Zealand by taking one of our connected journeys. Whether you want to ferry to the South Island, take a train through our mountains, or experience the rugged landscape of the Central Plateau, we can connect you.

Our rail and ferry trips offer easy hop-on hop-off excursions, so you and your family can experience all that New Zealand has to offer along the way.

The Great Journeys of New Zealand
Sit back and let us connect you to a rich diversity of people and places throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our three iconic trains, Coastal Pacific, Northern Explorer, TranzAlpine and our Interislander Cook Strait ferry offer a seamless connection between the North and South islands, and to many spectacular destinations along the way. Jump on for one leg, or sit back and relax for the whole journey. It’s the simplest way to experience New Zealand’s rich diversity and breathtaking beauty. So go on, hop on board.

Tranz Alpine
Take in the South Island’s stunning mountains and the vast Canterbury Plains aboard the TranzAlpine. New Zealand’s finest inland rail journey.

Tranzalpine journey
Christchurch Rolleston Darfield Springfield Arthur's Pass Otira Moana Greymouth

Discover Christchurch
The beginning or end to your TranzAlpine journey, discover this vibrant capital of the South.

Mighty Viaducts
Traverse towering viaducts as you journey above the ice-fed Waimakariri river towards Arthurs Pass.

Views on the east
During the summer, roll by dry tussock land on the east with stunning alpine views of steep mountain ranges.

Braided Rivers
Climb into the Southern Alps beside the broad braids of the Waimakariri River ('cold water' in Maori).

Arthurs Pass National Park
Begin an alpine adventure from the South Islands highest altitude settlement, at 900 meters above sea level.

Views on the west
Emerge from Otira into luxuriant sub-tropical rain forests of the West Coast.

Beautiful Lake Brunner
Enjoy a leisurely lunch on the shores of Lake Brunner (Moana), followed by a few hours of leisurely fishing.

Wild West Coast
The West Coast is a land of rugged beauty, wild rivers, rain forests and glaciers. Stay a night or two in Greymouth and explore it all.

The Journey
Experience the South Island’s striking natural landscape by taking a train between Christchurch and Greymouth. Along this journey you’ll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest.

The TranzAlpine is one of the world's great train journeys covering 223 kilometres (139 miles) one-way, taking just under 5 hours. You’ll traverse the majestic Canterbury Plains, to the backdrop of the mighty Southern Alps - the journey of a lifetime.

The TranzAlpine's route across the mountainous spine of our South Island is truly spectacular and is rightly described as one of the great train journeys of the world.

Sit back and marvel on this great train journey of the world
Starting at Christchurch on east coast of the South Island, the TranzAlpine begins its journey by roaming across the vast patchwork plains of Canterbury - one of New Zealand's primary agricultural regions. On the far side of the plains you will arrive at Springfield, where the Southern Alps suddenly rise from the plains like megalithic skyscrapers, creating an seemingly impenetrable barrier.

TranzAlpine Waiting on Platform at Springfield
For many years, Springfield was the end of the line with the Alps forming a formidable blockade. Eventually, a route to the West Coast through the Alps was agreed upon and construction began. This section, between Springfield and the township of Arthur's Pass, is considered a masterpiece of railway engineering and is the section for which the TranzAlpine is most famed.

The route firstly heads north-east to join the Waimakariri River gorge. This aqua-blue river will appear and disappear out of your window several times as the TranzAlpine clings and climbs up the cliffs above it. During the ascent to the high plains of Craigieburn, there are 15 short tunnels and four dramatic viaducts, including the 72 metre high Staircase Viaduct.

View of Mount Binser from the open air carriage on the TranzAlpine
The most iconic views come at the far end of the Cragieburn Straight, where the high plains stretch out to give a stunning view of Mount Binser and the edges of Arthur's Pass National Park. Shortly after, the train meets again with the Wiamakariri River and then crosses it to reach Arthur's Pass. This section is stunningly beautiful and is where the famous views of the TranzAlpine crossing the Waimakariri River are taken.

From Arthur's Pass, the TranzAlpine descends through the 8.5km long Otira Tunnel. This landmark structure was the second longest tunnel in the world when it was completed in 1923. It's historic completion also marked the completion of the Midland Line and the opening of the railway line from Christchurch to Greymouth.

Approaching Otira on the TranzAlpine
The Otira Tunnel marks the transition from Canterbury to West Coast and the landscape becomes remarkably different on the far side. The weather is typically wetter and the scenery more green and vibrant. The TranzAlpine follows a series of river valleys as it descends to Greymouth, starting with the Otira River and the Taramakau River. During these stretches you are nestled intimately between the mountainous hills, with the rugged, broad, riverbeds meandering alongside the tracks.

At Inchbonnie the TranzAlpine loops back on itself to head around the lush lake valleys to Moana, on the banks of the spectacular Lake Brunner. The TranzAlpine then joins the Arnold River valley which spills out into the Grey River valley on its final stretch before finally pulling into Greymouth in perfect time for lunch.

Explore beyond the tracks
The most popular destination is Arthur's Pass. Most people hop off and hike the alpine tracks for a few hours before catching the TranzAlpine back to Christchurch, however there are plenty of places to stay overnight if you want to explore this remarkable region fully. Further west, Moana is also a magnificent place to stay, with fishing and long walks along Arnold Valley just two of the outdoor pursuits you can enjoy in this green and serene haven.

Christchurch to Greymouth by Train
From East to West Coast by Rail

The TranzAlpine train traverses the rugged and breathtaking scenery of the South Island, and passes through some of New Zealand's most iconic towns as part the journey. Whether you're looking for a gorgeous scenic escape or a tranquil and relaxed way to get to some of New Zealand's favourite destinations, the TranzAlpine train is the perfect way to travel.

Take the train from vibrant Christchurch to Greymouth and back, or stop in at one of the destinations the train passes through. On the way, the TranzAlpine will travel through Rolleston, Darfield, Springfield, Cass, Arthur's Pass, Otira, Jacksons, Moana and Kokiri.

The TranzAlpine train journey will treat you to some of the most stunning scenery the South Island. From the rolling, lush farmland of the Canterbury Plains, the looming beauty of Arthur's Pass, and the majestic Southern Alps to the untouched and wild West Coast, the TranzAlpine sees the best of what the New Zealand landscape has to offer.

Discover Christchurch
Before boarding the TranzAlpine train, be sure to get a taste of all that Christchurch has to offer. Explore the area's rich culture and local hot-spots at one of the many museums and cafes such as C1, or take a ride on the famous Christchurch Gondola for 360 degree views of the cityscape, Canterbury plains, Southern Alps and other surrounds.

It's impossible to visit this charming 'Garden City' without admiring the resilience and creativity of the locals. Be sure to pay a visit to the Gap Filler project sites such as Pallet Pavilion and take a visit to the 'Cardboard Cathedral'. Plus, don't forget to take advantage of Christchurch's most well-known attractions, and visit the Willowbank Wildlife Park, Avon River, and the romantic Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Arrive in gorgeous Greymouth
Once you have arrived by train to Greymouth, take your pick of what to see and do - there's plenty happening in this historic location. Be sure to explore the town's rich history of gold mining, coal mining pounamu jade stone at History House Museum. You can even give gold mining a go yourself at Shantytown in Paroa, or fossick for your own piece of pounamu on the rugged West Coast beaches.

Other must-do's to add to your Greymouth itinerary are to check out the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, taste the local beer at Monteith's brewery, and to try the wide range of adventure activities such as black water rafting and hiking the West Coast trails.

Stopovers on the way
Taking the Christchurch to Greymouth train gives you the flexibility to stop off at one of the great destinations along the way. It's just $10 per person, per stopover.

Choose from taking a scenic horse trek in quaint Springfield, meet cheeky keas at Arthur's Pass National Park, or cruise Lake Brunner when you stopover in Moana - there's plenty to choose from.

Travelling on the TranzAlpine train
Travelling from Christchurch to Greymouth by train means an unrivalled opportunity for stunning views of the landscape. The train's new, world-class carriages offer panoramic side and sky view windows for gorgeous scenery without moving from your seat, or you can take advantage of the open air viewing carriage for the perfect, unobstructed photo opportunity - there's nothing between you and the surrounds.

Our on-board licensed cafe has a wide selection of snacks, meals and beverages to keep you refreshed during the journey. And with generous luggage allowances, you won't have to leave anything behind.

If you're looking for the perfect way to explore the South Island and all its wonders, scenery, and attractions, there's no better option than to board the TranzAlpine train. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, unrivalled scenery and fantastic service for the ultimate Christchurch to Greymouth train trip - it's the best way to discover the treasures of our beautiful country in style and comfort!

Greymouth to Christchurch by Train
From West to East Coast by Rail

The TranzAlpine train takes you through some of New Zealand’s most dramatic scenery. It’s the perfect way to travel, whether you’re traveling from Greymouth to Christchurch by train, or returning from the West Coast. On the way, you’ll pass through the patchwork farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, over a series of viaducts to the dizzy heights of Arthur’s Pass, crossing the Southern Alps to reach the wildly beautiful West Coast and seeing the country in all its spectacular variety.

And if you want to do more than simply pass through, if you choose to explore more deeply the many wonders, sights and experiences you’ll find along the way from Christchurch to Greymouth by train, the TranzAlpine is the easy, relaxed way to do it.

Explore Greymouth
Before boarding the Greymouth to Christchurch train, make sure you explore the region’s rich history, shaped by gold, coal, pounamu jade and rugged isolation. Be a gold miner for a day at Shantytown in Paroa, try the local beer at Monteiths brewery in Greymouth, or go further afield to the awe-inspiring Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.

Christchurch, the gateway to the South
If your journey begins in Christchurch, The Garden City, you’ll be in the colourful midst of the more than 740 parks which give the city its name. While you’re in Christchurch, go punting on the Avon River, visit the Ferrymead Heritage Park, the International Antarctic Centre, Christchurch Casino, or the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. And don’t leave town without taking advantage of all that’s available to you just outside the city limits: the charming French settlement of Akaroa, the skifields of Mt Hutt, and the alpine hot pools of Hanmer Springs.

Stopovers on the way
On the way, stop over at Moana on Lake Brunner and take a walk in the native bush, or get off at the Arthur’s Pass train station to explore an alpine National Park and meet the keas – New Zealand’s cheeky native parrots.

Stopovers can be booked for $10 per person, per stopover, and are a great way to add flexibility to your train journey.

Travelling on the TranzAlpine Train
The world famous TranzAlpine train features new, world class carriages designed to provide passengers with the best scenic experience. Huge panoramic side and sky view windows give stunning at-seat views, while the open air viewing carriage means there is nothing between you and that perfect photo opportunity.

The train has an on-board licensed café with a selection of snacks, meals, and beverages which you can enjoy while listening to the GPS triggered at-seat audio commentary.

Whatever your itinerary, and whichever of the wonders of the South Island you’re eager to explore, the train from Greymouth to Christchurch or Christchurch to Greymouth, is the best way to enjoy your trip. Ignore the traffic, fold away your road-maps, sit back, relax and enjoy the view, so you arrive at your destination refreshed and ready for adventure.

Connecting with New Zealand on the TranzAlpine
Whether you are travelling around New Zealand on public transport or hiring a car or campervan, the TranzAlpine is the best way to soak up the stunning sights of the Southern Alps.

Connecting by train
If you are using public transport to see New Zealand, then our passenger services will connect you from Auckland to Greymouth in epic style. Your route will start with the Northern Explorer in Auckland, followed by sailing the Interislander from Wellington to Picton, and then cruising down the east coast on the Coastal Pacific before arriving in Christchurch.

Your onward route is then across the Southern Alps on the TranzAlpine to Greymouth where you can connect with the southern tip of the South Island by coach. We sell Through fares that include the interconnecting InterCity coach journey to Fox , Franz Joseph or Queenstown to help get you on your way. This loop will bring you back to Christchurch, where you can fly back to Auckland to complete your tour.

Connecting with the TranzAlpine by car
If you are touring New Zealand by car or campervan, then you deserve to book yourself a day off from driving! So why not park up in Christchurch or Greymouth and let us show you the spectacular Southern Alps while you sit back and relax.

From Christchurch, you can do the return journey in a day. The TranzAlpine stops in Greymouth for an hour, which is plenty of time for lunch before climbing back on-board. Or, you can hop off at Arthur's Pass for a few hours to explore the Southern Alps before catching the train back again mid-afternoon.

Alternatively, the train is far less busy from Greymouth and the TranzAlpine makes for a very relaxing afternoon travelling through the Alps. You will then arrive in Christchurch in perfect time for dinner out in the city. Then return back the next day or a couple of days later, however the mood takes you.

Perhaps the best option though is to leave your hire car behind and then pick up another from the other end. Both Christchurch and Greymouth have plenty of car rental firms for you to choose from. This enables you to complete your circuit without doubling back.

Take your time, add a Stopover
Why cruise straight through that beautiful landscape and leave it all behind? There are a number of stops along the TranzAlpine route that are worth exploring and taking a couple of days to complete the journey makes it an invigorating journey.

With a Flexi or Flexi Plus ticket, you can stop off along the journey for a day, a week, or a month, for no extra charge. This allows you to explore New Zealand fully, whilst returning to the relaxing calm of the Northern Explorer at any time to continue your journey onwards.

From Christchurch, the first major stop is Springfield. The landscape here is phenomenal. The town sits on the vast, flat, Canterbury Plains, but just a couple of miles to the west, the Southern Alps ascend from the ground like primordial skyscrapers. Activities in the area include serene walks and horse trekking into the foothills of the mountains.

At the middle of the TranzAlpine's journey, the train ascends to Arthur's Pass - a very popular stop for exploring the mountains. The township of Arthur's Pass has plenty of accommodation and is the perfect base camp for exploring Arthur's Pass National Park.

Lastly comes Moana, a sleepy fishing town set on the banks of Lake Brunner. At Moana you can connect with your inner peace as you wander around the walking tracks or fish on the idyllic lake surrounded by greenery and tranquillity.

Connect with the West Coast
At the end of the line is Greymouth, where you can connect with New Zealand's rugged West Coast. This region of New Zealand is famous for its chiselled landscapes and the pure glaciers of Fox and Franz Joseph. A touch further south and you will enter the adventure playground of Queenstown, where bungy jumping, white water rafting, jet boating and skiing are just a few of the dangerous activities you can put yourself through. InterCity operate coaches along this route and you can buy them as part of you TranzAlpine ticket.

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.
The Journey
New Zealand's longest running passenger service, the Northern Explorer is a long distance scenic train service running between Auckland and 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.

The Journey
The Northern Explorer rumbles through the heart of the North Island on an epic journey that covers 680km of New Zealand's finest scenery, as it travels between Auckland and Wellington.

Settle down for the journey of a lifetime
Setting off from Auckland, our cosmopolitan City of Sails, the first chapter of the Northern Explorer's epic journey is across the mighty Waikato Plains to Hamilton, famous for its gardens and the Hobbiton film set. The Northern Explorer then begins is journey into the rolling hills of King Country, stopping at Otorohanga in late morning.

the Northern Explorer train journeys across the Hapuawhenua Viaduct
In the early afternoon, the Northern Explorer begins its ascent onto the Central Plateau, where the snow-capped volcano of Ruapehu dominates the skyline. En-route you will find yourself winding tightly around the historic Raurimu Spiral that was designed in 1898 to make the 139 metre ascent onto the plateau possible, without a lengthy diversion.

As you travel through National Park, the eastern skyline will feature the distinctive volcanic cone of Nguarahoe, which starred as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movie. Further south, the massive peak of Ruapehu will dominate the horizon as the Northern Explorer skirts around its foothills and over the dramatic Hapuawhenua Viaduct before stopping at Ohakune and heading out to Palmerston North.

Northern Explorer Crossing Bridge at Paramata
The final stretch of this marathon scenic journey sees you clinging to rugged cliffs of the Kapiti Coast before easing into our twinkling harbourside capital city, Wellington. Your arrival is perfectly timed with the descent of early evening, when the city's boutique bars and worldly restaurants come to life.

Explore beyond the tracks
The most popular stops on the Northern Explorer are Otorohanga, for the magical Waitomo Caves, and National Park, for the Tongariro Crossing. Ohakune is renowned for its winter skiing, but it is rapidly becoming a popular stop for its off road cycle trails and, in particular, the Old Coach Road.

Connect with our scenic network
Wellington is the gateway to the South Island and no trip to New Zealand would be complete without taking the iconic three-and-a-half hour Interislander cruise through the Marlborough Sounds. The Interislander brings you to Picton, where the Coastal Pacific train will take you on to Christchurch.


When you alight your Wellington to Auckland train in the City of Sails, you’ll be in the heart of New Zealand’s biggest city, a short walk from the waterfront and the buzz of the capital city.

While you’re in Auckland, take a leap from the Sky Tower, spend a day at the vineyards of Waiheke Island, explore the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, see sub-Antarctic penguins at Kelly Tarlton’s, or visit the Auckland Museum to learn more about the city and its history.

Auckland is also your gateway to the natural beauties of the Bay of Islands and Northland, famed for its ancient Kauri forests and the sweeping sands of Ninety Mile Beach, leading all the way to New Zealand’s northern-most point, Cape Reinga

Waitomo Caves
The village of Waitomo Caves has been hosting tourists since the early nineteenth century. Today it is home to a wealth of tourism activities, centred around its amazing glowworm population.

Exploring Waitomo Caves
Waitomo Caves village is the base camp for several top tourism activities. By far the most popular and renowned of these is the Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour, but almost all the activities include having a good look at these glowing worms.

The glowworms are a form of fungus gnat larvae that are unique to New Zealand. Known scientifically as Arachnocampa luminosa, these luminous worms huddle in their thousands on the ceilings of caves and dangle their silk down to the water to catch small insects.

There are several different caves to explore at Waitomo Caves and each host a number of different activities operated by different companies. The main activities include: glowworm boat rides, cave walking tours, abseiling, pot-holing and black water rafting (underground tubing).

Getting to Waitomo Caves by train
Reaching Waitomo Caves by train is very easy. The Northern Explorer train from Auckland and Wellington stops in Otorohanga, which is just 15 minutes taxi ride from Waitomo Caves.

Many of the hotels and hostels will organise to collect you from the station, or there is a taxi company in Otorohanga you can contact directly (our train staff can help you get the phone number for them).

Tongariro National Park
National Park is situated at the heart of New Zealand's North Island and is home to two enormous volcanoes. If you wish to see the extremes of New Zealand's harshest scenery, then this is the place to come.

Hike into a world of extreme beauty
Tongariro National Park is New Zealand's oldest national park and is designated as a dual World Heritage area. This designation recognises National Park as both a place of geological significance for scientific study and of spiritual importance to the Maori culture. For most people, Tongariro National Park is a rare chance to scale an active volcano and sit beside steaming crater lakes amidst a landscape more befitting of Mars.

National Park is home to two volcanoes, Ruapehu and Tongariro. However, it is most famous peak is Mount Ngaurahoe, which is a large secondary cone of Tongariro. Ngaurahoe's distinctive cone dominates the skyline and is instantly recognisable for the role is played in the Lord of the Rings films, as Mount Doom!

The most popular tourist activity in National Park is the Tongariro Crossing. This hike can be completed in a day from the iconic Chateau Tongoriro hotel and the nearby Skotel. Alternative longer routes can take up to three days and include staying in DoC huts.

In winter, the region is also very popular for skiers.

Exploring Tongariro National Park by train
Getting to Tongariro National Park by train is very easy. The Northern Explorer train from Auckland or Wellington stops at National Park six days a week. From the station, it is a very short journey to the nearby hotels and most of them will organise to collect you from the station (be sure to ask when you are booking your accommodation).

Set beneath the imposing crater of Ruapehu, the alpine town of Ohakune comes alive during the winter ski season. During summer, Ohakune has a great reputation for its cycle trails and outdoor pursuits.

visiting Ohakune by train
Exploring Ohakune

Ohakune is well known in New Zealand as a winter playground. The dramatic slopes of Ruapehu shimmer in the distance from Autumn to Spring, beckoning skiers and snowboarders to come and play. However, the slopes don't open until winter descends, with Whakapapa opening in early June and Turoa in early July. Then, when the ski lifts grind to a halt each evening, the town of Ohakune cranks up, with its bars and restaurants bustling with exhilarated skiers winding down for the night.

During the summer months, Ohakune is also an outdoor playground. Activities include: walking, hiking/bushwalking, mountain biking, canoeing, fishing, horse trekking.

walking and biking the Ohankune Old Coach Road
In particular, Ohakune is renowned for its walking and cycle trails, and there is none better than the astonishing Old Coach Road. This route was once a cobbled coach route that linked the incomplete railway from Wellington to Auckland. Passengers wishing to travel from Wellington to Auckland by train would have to disembark and go by coach across this 39km gap. Once the railway was completed, the Old Coach Road was lost to the forest for almost 100 years until local volunteers converted it into one of New Zealand's most popular cycle/walking trails. The route wanders through the foothills of Ruapehu and connects with the 297km Mountains to Sea trail.

A little bit of history
The history of Ohakune is very close to our hearts. The first settlement was built in the early nineteenth century to house the railway workers who were building the final section of the North Island Main Trunk railway. This work included the incredible "old" Hapuawhenua Viaduct, which is now a centrepiece of the Old Coach Road walking and cycle trail.

Today, you can cruise straight through Ohakune on the Northern Explorer and the new Hapuawhenua Viaduct is one of many superb feats of engineering you will se on your way. However, we recommend you hop off at Ohakune and spend a day or two exploring this historic and outstandingly beautiful area. There is also a fascinating railway museum in Ohakune where you can learn all about it!

Getting to Ohakune by train
Thanks to the hard work of Ohakune's first settlers, getting to Ohakune by train from Wellington and Auckland is a easy as hopping on the Northern Explorer and hopping off at the centre of town. You can bring all your ski gear, your mountain bike and two suitcases packed with thick winter clothing on the train - we've got plenty of room.

Nestled around a huge sparkling natural harbour, Wellington is where coffee, craft beer, international cuisine and boutique shops meet the bustle of modern business in a distinctly New Zealand style.

Discover the "Coolest little Capital"
Wellington is our sparkling capital city, where modern business style blends with a cultured, bohemian, spirit. On a summer's day, the harbour waters gently lap against the boardwalks and people eat their lunch while dangling their feet in the water. Nearby, in the sunny harbourside restaurants, glasses clink and laughter rings out. Meanwhile, in the streets of Te Aro, visitors and locals drift between boutique shops and European style cafés by day, then by night mingle with the city's workers in vibrant bars and curious restaurants selling cuisine from around the world. With a population of less than 200,000 people, there is no capital city on earth that marries relaxed and refined better than Wellington.

Days out in Wellington
There are a number of attractions to fill your days with in Wellington. The most popular day out is taking the Wellington Cable Car up to Kelburn, followed by a leisurely stroll back down the hill through the Botanical Gardens - there's an excellent children's playground en-route. The national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, tells the story of our land in exceptional style and has an astonishing World War I exhibition that was created by Peter Jackson's WETA studios. Speaking of which, the WETA Cave studio tour also ranks highly on the list of top tourist activities.

Getting to Wellington by train
You can get from Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North to Wellington by train very easily. The Northern Explorer train heads southwards from Auckland on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The journey is an epic day-long exhibition of New Zealand's finest scenery and is a great way to see New Zealand. See the Northern Explorer page for a detailed timetable and list of stations.

Northern Explorer
Connecting Your Journey

The Northern Explorer connects the North Island cities of Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North with Wellington and the South Island. When it comes to exploring New Zealand, there is no greater (or longer) journey!

Connecting with New Zealand on the Northern Explorer
The Northern Explorer will connect you with the best that New Zealand has to offer. At 675km long, the Northern Explorer's route from Auckland to Wellington passes many of the North Island's top destinations - and those that it doesn't pass, are in easy reach from the four cities that the Northern Explorer connects together.

With a Flexi or Flexi Plus ticket, you can stop off along the journey for a day, a week, or a month, for no extra charge. This allows you to explore New Zealand fully, whilst returning to the relaxing calm of the Northern Explorer at any time to continue your journey onwards.

The Northern Explorer begins its journey in the bustling metropolis of Auckland, where you can enjoy the bright lights and the razzle-dazzle of New Zealand's super-city.

The Northern Explorer's first stop is the city of Hamilton, where you can step off and explore the mighty Waikato. Top destinations that you can reach from here include the surfers paradise of Raglan and the Hobbiton film set. You can also catch long distance buses to Rotorua, Taupo, Tauranga and Napier from Hamilton.

One of the most popular stops on the Northern Explorer's route is Otorohanga, which is just a few minutes drive from Waitomo Caves. From Waitomo, you can organise a tour that includes Waitomo Caves, Hobbiton and Te Puia in Rotorua before returning to the tracks to continue your scenic journey to the Central Plateau.

National Park station is situated in the volcanic heartland of the North Island. For those interested in hiking the Martian terrain of the Tongoriro Crossing or scaling the active cone of Ngaurahoe (Mount Doom), the Tongoriro National Park is the place for you!

Ohakune is next along the tracks and is a popular alpine resort for skiers in wintertime. More recently though, Ohakune has become a popular stop for mountain biking and walking, with the newly restored "Old Coach Road" becoming one of New Zealand's favourite cycle and walking trails.

The Northern Explorer terminates at Wellington, our quaint harbourside capital and one of the coolest cities in the world. Wellington is a great place to enjoy everything from street food to haute cuisine, washed down with award winning local wine or sophisticated craft beer. Give yourself at least a couple of nights to soak up the atmosphere of this sparkling city.

Connecting with the South Island
From Wellington, you can connect with the Interislander and cruise across the Cook Strait on one the one of the most beautiful ferry journeys in the world. The journey takes three hours, much of which is spent meandering through the inspiringly beautiful Marlborough Sounds. If you are planning to visit both of our islands, then this is the way to do it!

The Interislander will take you to Picton, which is an ideal spot to explore the serenely beautiful hills of Marlborough. From Picton, you can also head west around the coast to the popular tourist town of Nelson and explore the Abel Tasman National Park.

Connecting with Christchurch
From Wellington, you can also connect directly with Christchurch via our interconnecting Interislander and Coastal Pacific services. Starting in the morning, you travel across the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry. Arriving in Picton in the early afternoon, you have time to stretch your legs around this quaint harbour-town before boarding the Coastal Pacific train.

Aboard the Coastal Pacific, you will venture through Blenheim and Kaikoura, both of which are worthy places to stop, before arriving at Christchurch in the early evening in perfect time to check in to your hotel and head out for dinner.

Coastal Pacific Picton to Christchurch

The Journey

Explore the stunning Kaikōura Coastline, famous for its marine mammals and whale watching, through the idyllic Canterbury Plains to the Garden City of Christchurch.

Travelling between Christchurch and Picton, the Coastal Pacific journeys breathtakingly close to the Pacific Ocean, where the roaring sea meets enormous bush-clad mountains. The Coastal Pacific isn't just a scenic activity, combined with the Interislander Ferry it is the perfect way to connect between Wellington, Blenheim, Kaikoura and Christchurch.

The Coastal Pacific runs once daily taking just over 5 hours from the Christchurch Railway Station to Picton.

Once you reach Picton you can take our Interislander ferry to Wellington and board the Northern Explorer train to Auckland to carry on your train journey through the North Island.

On-board our trains
Our carriages are designed to glide through the heart of New Zealand's beautiful scenery, bringing you an intimate view of our epic landscapes through huge panoramic windows, from the comfort of your seat.

Your window to New Zealand
At the heart of our carriages' design are our spacious reclined seats, panoramic windows, glass shelves and skylights. These details bathe our carriages in light and deliver an incredible view of New Zealand's epic landscapes. We even sacrificed seat numbers to create spaciousness and extra-wide viewing angles.

Scenic trains inside the carriage
By spreading the seats out, we also created generous amounts of leg room and comfort. And to heighten this comfort, we used state-of-the-art air bag suspension to guarantee a smooth ride across our rugged New Zealand terrain.
Quite simply, we have done everything we can to ensure you feel at peace as you sink back in your reclined seat and soak up the scenery.

Licensed café
Our journeys are all about relaxing and what could be more relaxing than sitting back with a freshly brewed speciality tea or barista coffee married with a sumptuous cake? Well, maybe you'd like to toast your special journey with a bottle of bubbles or an award winning local wine? Or perhaps you'd prefer to keep it simple with an elegant cold beer or cider? Whatever it is that makes you smile inside, you are likely to find it in our licensed Café Carriage.
When it comes to food, our Café Carriage serves a broad menu of delights. From sweet or savoury snacks, to tasty and substantial meals. Hot or cold, for young or old, we're sure to have something that tingles your taste buds and satisfies your appetite.

Open air viewing carriage
Nothing gets you closer to the great New Zealand scenery than our outdoor Viewing Carriages. These carriages have open sides and allow you to be genuinely outdoors while travelling across our great plains, through our dense forests, along our gorgeous coastlines and over our spectacular mountain passes.

Tranzalpine open air viewing carriage
The outdoor viewing carriage also provides uninterrupted views making the ideal spot for some amazing photos.

If you're travelling during the winter months be sure to pack a coat and hat as it can get a little chilly, especially in the alpine regions.

Follow the stories of our land
Connect with the histories, legends and myths of New Zealand by tuning into our audio commentary system. We've packed a seamless stream of stories, narratives and facts about the places outside your window, which playback as we pass by them. Our passion is New Zealand and we want you to step off the train with an intimate knowledge of our land, our history, and our culture.

Coastal pacific on board listening to audio
The audio commentary system is mounted in the arm of your chair. We provide you with a free headset to use for the journey, however you are welcome to use your own headphones if you prefer (the system used a standard mini headphone jack). The commentary is in both English and Mandarin.

Power sockets
Get snap happy on your digital SLR, video the whole journey on your handycam, go into social overdrive on your phone or watch films on your iPad; you can do it all. Just make sure you bring your charger so that you can power-up along the way. All our seats have a power outlet for you to stay switched on for the whole journey!

Secure baggage carriage
To keep your possessions safe and out of the way, we store all baggage in our dedicated Baggage Carriage. Please bring a small day-bag or handbag if you wish to keep a bag with you on the journey (see Travel Tips and Baggage Allowance for more details).

Carriage seating plan
All of our seats enjoy spectacular views thanks to the spacious design of our carriages. Window seats do get a better view out of one side of the carriage. But, aisle seats enjoy a better view out of both sides of the carriage.

Onboard Carriage Seating Plan
When it comes to seating arrangement, our carriages feature two different styles:

• Forward facing seating: these are the more spacious of the two options. We rotate these seats at the beginning of each journey to face the direction of travel. The forward facing seating has the advantage of always facing in the direction of travel and has much greater legroom than the table seating.

• Table Seating: this features four seats around a large table. This is perfect for families and groups who want to eat, drink, play games and enjoy time together. The downside is that two people have to face against the direction of travel and the legroom is shared with the person sitting opposite you.

Booking your seat
When you book your journey, we automatically reserve your seat(s). We do not carry standing passengers and when all seats are sold the service will show as Sold Out.

We calculate the seating plan on the day before travel. We aim to sit passengers on the same booking number together, with couples and singles in the paired seating and groups around the tables. Our priority is making the journey enjoyable for everyone and we have a lot of experience in making sure you get a seat that you will love.

Air Conditioning
You'll be kept beautifully comfortable in our Air Conditioned carriages, which are cool and fresh in the summer and warm and cosy in the winter. If you like it the other way around, then simply stroll through to the Open Air Viewing Carriage!

Apparently, on other forms of transport you have to hold it in until its convenient for the driver to pull over. We think you should stay comfortable and go whenever you like, so we have added plenty of toilets, including an accessible toilet near the Café.

Baby changing facilities
Keep your baby comfortable at all times with out on-board changing facilities. They are located in the Accessible Toilet near the Café.

All our trains are fitted with lifts/hoists for step-free access and have accessible seating.

Sail between Wellington and Picton on the Interislander Cook Strait ferry and enjoy the spectacular Marlborough Sounds on one of the most scenic ferry journeys in the world.

The Cook Strait Ferry Journey
The Interislander ferry is the longest running Cook Strait ferry service in Aotearoa New Zealand. Interislander sailings are between Wellington (North Island) and Picton (South Island). Our Interislander ferry trip is known as one of the most beautiful ferry cruises in the world. The Cook Strait ferry covers 92 kilometres (58 miles) and takes just over three hours. The journey between Wellington and Picton is one of New Zealand’s most iconic tourist experiences.

Connecting the North Island rail network and our Northern Explorer scenic rail experience with the South Island rail network’s TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific services, the Interislander is an unmissable part of New Zealand’s Great Journeys.

The Journey across the Cook Strait averages 3 to 3.5 hours and we sail daily from Wellington to Picton.

All of these options can be combined with your New Zealand holiday
Tours operate by First Class Holidays and Anzcro for who Westoe Travel act as agents

We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns

We advise customers take travel insurance for all bookings

We strongly advise that you check the latest advice from the Foreign and commonwealth office about travelling abroad both before booking and before travelling

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