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Trip Overview

Discover the natural beauty and wildlife of this remote land on the great 18-night rail adventure across New Zealand. From the historic beaches of the Bay of Islands travel into the ‘Pacific Rim of Fire’ and enjoy the unique setting of Rotoura. Pay a visit to the land of Hobbits and the Waitomo Caves with their mesmerizing population of glow worms, before making your way south and to the sea life mecca that is Kaikoura where you will find several Whales, Dolphins, Sea Lions and Penguins in their own habitat. Explore the quint city of Christchurch before crossing the majestic Southern Alps to marvel at the Franz Josef Glacier. Continue south to explore Milford Sound and the Fjordland region, then onto Dunedin, the most southerly city in the world where you will be amazed at the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Colony and other rare birds living in the wild.

Highlights

  • Relax on the unspoilt beaches of the Bay of Islands 
  • Have fun in the land of ‘The Hobbit' and ‘The Lord of the Rings' 
  • Soak up the natural beauty and rich Moari history of Volcanic Rotorua 
  • Marvel at the other worldly beauty of Franz Josef Glacier 
  • Enjoy the spectacular scenery onboard three scenic railways: The Northern Explorer, The Coastal Pacific and The Tranz-Alpine 
  • Be blown away by the abundance of wildlife just off the shores of Kaikoura 
  • Cruise the famous waterways of Queen Charlotte and Milford Sounds 
  • Catch up with a Yellow eyed Penguin Colony near Dunedin 

 

PACKAGE ALSO INCLUDES: 

  • All rail and coach journeys as per the itinerary 
  • All hotel and station transfers as per the itinerary 
  • 3 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast in Auckland 
  • 2 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast in Paihia 
  • 1 night's hotel accommodation with breakfast in Rotorua 
  • 1 night's hotel accommodation with breakfast in Wellington 
  • 1 night's hotel accommodation with breakfast Kaikoura 
  • 2 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast in Christchurch 
  • 1 night's hotel accommodation with breakfast in Franz Josef 
  • 3 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast in Queenstown 
  • 2 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast in Dunedin 
  • Seats aboard the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton 
  • Sightseeing cruise of the Bay of Islands 
  • Sightseeing tour of Hobbiton 
  • Sightseeing tour of Rotorua and a traditional Maori evening excursion 
  • Sightseeing tour of Waitiomo Caves 
  • Whale Watching cruise from Kaikoura 
  • All-day Christchurch Heritage Tram Pass 
  • Half day city tour of Queenstown 
  • Milford Sound day trip 
  • Half day wildlife tour of the Otago Peninsular from Dunedin 
  • Private city tour of Dunedin 
  • Private airport transfers 

 

Trip Map

Why Not...

Extend your trip or try this package in reverse. Call a Rail Expert for details.

Disclaimer:

Prices are per person and subject to availability, based on two people sharing a standard twin or double room. Prices are subject to change. Single occupancy supplements will apply for solo travellers. Hotel and room facilities vary and may be subject to additional fees. Some hotels require payment of local city taxes on arrival. Please call for pricing. We accept all major credit and debit cards.

DAY 1 - AUCKLAND

Welcome to Aotearoa! On arrival at the airport you will be escorted to your hotel to check-in. Then head off to acclimatize with the ‘City of Sails'. Head up the Sky Tour for a panoramic view of the surrounding land, then to any of the city's great restaurants for dinner. (Overnight Auckland) B

DAY 2 - BAY OF ISLANDS

After breakfast you depart Auckland on a scheduled coach service to Paihia. Travel north through the seaside resorts of the Hibiscus Coast and the city of Whangarei to the beautiful Bay of Islands. There will be a short stop for morning tea (own cost) before continuing on to the town of Paihia. On arrival why not visit the Waitangi Treaty House and Grounds where the historic agreement was signed between Maori and the British in 1840 forming the nation of New Zealand. (Overnight Paihia) B

DAY 3 - BAY OF ISLANDS

Enjoy a day at leisure to explore the region, which is renowned as the birthplace of the nation of New Zealand as well as for its beautiful beaches and wildlife. The township of Paihia is popular for its convenient location in the Bay of Islands and vicinity to the Bay's historical and scenic sights. The wharf, Paihia's focal point, caters for island and adventure cruises as well as the ferry connection between Paihia and Russell. (Overnight Paihia) B

DAY 4 - BAY OF ISLANDS/AUCKLAND

This morning depart on a scenic boat trip through the bay cruising past the Cape Brett Lighthouse, before arriving at the Hole in the Rock, which conditions permitting, your skipper will skilfully navigate through as well as taking in the Grand Cathedral Cave. On the return to Paihia pass several remote islands, fringed with golden sand beaches. In the afternoon depart Paihia on a scheduled coach for Auckland. (Overnight Auckland) B

DAY 5 - HOBBITON/ROTORUA

Depart Auckland on a trip from Auckland to Rotorua, which includes a magical journey through Middle-earth at the Hobbiton Movie Set from "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" films. Travel south from Auckland over the Bombay Hills to the rich farmland of the Waikato region. You travel through the heritage town of Cambridge where tree-lined streets add to the English-style atmosphere. From here your journey takes you through undulating green hills as you enter the world of Hobbiton Shire.

On arrival at Shire's Rest you embark on your Hobbiton movie set tour. This location is the largest “green set” in the world and the only place where you get an emotional response with a movie set in a natural setting. You see 44 hobbit holes, the Mill and double arch bridge, the party tree and visit the Green Dragon Inn (where a complimentary beer, cider or ginger ale is included). At this stunning location you can take a photo at the door of Bilbo's house, “Bag End”, looking out over the whole of Hobbiton to the hills in the distance. At the end of your Hobbiton movie set tour you will travel on to Rotorua by Hobbiton Shuttle.

With a unique thermal and volcanic landscape, living Maori culture, natural hot springs and bubbling mud pools, Rotorua is one of New Zealand's best known and most popular destinations. Rotorua forms part of the geologically active ‘Pacific Rim of Fire' and evidence of the bubbling thermal activity just under the earth's crust is surprisingly evident throughout the city. (Overnight Rotorua) B

DAY 6 - ROTORUA

This morning enjoy a half day small group tour and experience the geothermal activity, gushing geysers, boiling mud pools and the many colours of every tint and hue displayed in pools, lakes, craters, steaming vents and mineral terraces of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Then enjoy the Waimangu Volcanic Valley nature walk amidst the volcanic landscape with views of hot crater lakes, steaming cliffs, hissing fumeroles, colourful silica terraces, rare thermally adapted plants and the opportunity to see some of New Zealand's native birdlife. Tonight, experience the warmth of the Maori people during an evening of ceremonial rituals, powerful cultural performance, storytelling and hangi dinner. Enter a replica pre-European Maori village, see the hangi pit opened and enter the ancestral Meeting House to enjoy a powerful cultural performance featuring tribal songs, myths, legends and dance including the vigorous haka. Enjoy a hangi buffet dinner (Maori feast) cooked the traditional Maori way in an earth oven before bidding farewell your hosts and returning to your accommodation. (Overnight Rotorua) B/D

DAY 7 - ROTORUA/WAITOMO CAVES/AUCKLAND

Depart Rotorua by sightseeing coach travelling over the bush-clad Mamaku Ranges then through the virgin native bush of Fitzgerald Glade and across lush farmland into the King Country region with your driver sharing information on the area's history and highlights. After arriving in the small town of Waitomo, you will be taken on a 45-minute guided group tour through the world famous Glowworm Caves, which were discovered in 1887. Wander through subterranean caverns and learn how the stalagmites, stalactites and other limestone rock formations were formed. To end your tour, glide through the Glowworm Grotto on a magical boat ride, surrounded by the twinkling lights of thousands of glow-worms. Following this, enjoy a picnic-style lunch then continue your journey by coach through the fertile Waikato region, the dairy farming capital of New Zealand, and northward to Auckland. (Overnight Auckland) B/L

DAY 8 - AUCKLAND TO WELLINGTON

It's an early start this morning as you are collected from your hotel and whisked to the station for a journey aboard the Northern Explorer Train* to Wellington. The train runs through some amazing and diverse scenery; from rolling countryside to the volcanic mountains of the Tongariro National Park and across the Central Plateau before arriving in the capital city where you are met and transferred to your hotel for the night. (Overnight Wellington) B

**Please note that the Northern Explorer only operates on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

DAY 9 - WELLINGTON TO KAIKOURA

Enjoy breakfast before heading to the ferry terminal, then crossing the Cook Strait and majestic Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton. Here head to the station for the scenic Coastal Pacific Train* to Kaikoura where you will be shuttled to your hotel.

Kaikoura, meaning “to eat crayfish”, is a coastal town known for its abundant wildlife and its sperm whale population, which are spotted 95% of the year. The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway winds from the town centre to lookout points at Point Kean. Close by, the rock platforms are home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals. The 1800s Fyffe House is a cottage built on a foundation of whalebones, with displays on the town's whaling past. (Overnight Kaikoura) B

** The Coastal Pacific is a seasonal train, running from Spring (October) through to Autumn (April). Between April-October, the rail service will be replaced by coach.

DAY 10 - WHALE WATCHING IN KAIKOURA - CHRISTCHURCH

Today head out on the Pacific Ocean to enjoy a Whale Watch experience by modern purpose-built catamaran and enjoy an exciting close-up encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale in their natural environment. The upwelling of nutrient rich waters around Kaikoura support an abundant and diverse fauna of vertebrates, fish and marine mammals. At times you may also see Dusky Dolphins and the rare Hector Dolphins, NZ fur seals, sea lions and a large variety of seabirds including the smallest of the penguins, the little Blue Penguin. Spend around three hours on the water before heading back to land to collect your bags and boarding the Coastal Pacific Train* again, heading through the rich Waipara wine district to Christchurch. (Overnight Christchurch) B

** The Coastal Pacific is a seasonal train, running from Spring (October) through to Autumn (April). Between April-October, the rail service will be replaced by coach.

DAY 11 - CHRISTCHURCH

Enjoy a relaxing day in ‘the most English city outside of England' today and be sure to make use of your all-day pass for the Christchurch heritage Tram service around town. The tram runs every 15-20mins and you can hop on and hop off at any of its 17 stops, including the beautiful Botanical gardens and the quaint Avon river. (Overnight Christchurch) B

DAY 12 - CHRISTCHURCH TO FRANZ JOSEF

Transfer by shared shuttle from the hotel to the railway station, then depart Christchurch on the spectacular Tranz Alpine train to Greymouth. Travel over gorges on viaducts that were an engineering feat of their time then after a short stop at Arthur's Pass, climb the Southern Alps and pass through the 8kms Otira Tunnel before arriving at the old mining town. From here you'll ride the comfortable coach service down the Tasman Sea coastline to Franz Josef. The landscape here is dominated by the national park's two largest glaciers, Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, the only glaciers in the world that descend into lowland rainforest.

This part of the South Island is a World Heritage area of magnificent snow-capped Southern Alps, high alpine snowfields, the glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef, blue walls of ice, towering rainforests, mirrored lakes, and wild windblown beaches. Geographically isolated from the rest of New Zealand by the Southern Alps, West Coast locals have developed a distinctive culture of their own and are renowned for their pioneering values of self-reliance, friendliness, loyalty and down-to-earth characteristics. (Overnight Franz Josef) B

DAY 13 - FRANZ JOSEF/QUEENSTOWN

Depart Franz Josef this morning again by coach, heading south to Queenstown. The journey passes through dense forest then crosses the Southern Alps via the Haast Pass and through the Kawarau Gorge. Queenstown is blessed with being surrounded by majestic mountains and being set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and has made a name for itself as being the adventure capital of New Zealand! On arrival you will be taken to your hotel for the next three nights. (Overnight Queenstown) B

DAY 14 - QUEENSTOWN

Discover more about Queenstown on a guided tour this morning, with panoramic views from Queenstown Hill and some wine tasting at Gibbston Valley. After lunch enjoy the remainder of the day at your own leisure. (Overnight Queenstown) B

DAY 15 - MILFORD SOUND DAY TRIP

This morning you will be collected from the hotel for a full day tour by coach travelling around the eastern shores of Lake Wakatipu and across the picturesque Southland countryside to Te Anau and into the dramatic landscape of the Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound. Stop at the Mirror Lakes to see the near perfect reflections of the mountains in the calm waters then take a short walk to the Chasm and see where the waters disappear into the rocks before arriving in Milford Sound. Cruise the fiord past Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea enjoying the stunning scenery of cascading waterfalls, dense rainforest, steep cliff faces and marine life that inhabits these waters. Picnic box lunch is included, and your nature guide will give a commentary on the interesting features of the area. Return to Queenstown by coach in the evening or take the option of a scenic flights from Milford Sound to Queenstown (at an extra cost). (Overnight Queenstown) B

DAY 16 - QUEENSTOWN/DUNEDIN

Another scenic coach ride today, this time heading to Dunedin, the most southerly city in the world. The city can't hide its Scottish heritage and was envisaged as the ‘Edinburgh of the South' when founded by Scottish settlers.

After checking in to your hotel, head out on a tour of the Otago Peninsula for some close encounters with wildlife including penguins, albatross, seals and pelagic birds. You'll enjoy a cruise across the harbour to Taiaroa Heads where you'll see a huge variety of sea birds nesting. Then, at Wellers Rock join the coach which will take you to Penguin Place for a guided tour of a Yellow-Eyed Penguin Colony and see these endangered birds from especially built hides. Return to the city in the early evening for dinner. (Overnight Dunedin) B

DAY 17 - DUNEDIN

A quieter day today starting with a private tour of the city. Discover the historic railway station and Baldwin street - the steepest street in the world. Pay a visit to the Toitu Settlers Museum and then spend the rest of the day at your leisure. (Overnight Dunedin) B

DAY 18 - DUNEDIN/CHRISTCHURCH

Depart Dunedin travelling north across the Otago Hills onboard a scheduled coach. At Moeraki see the fascinating giant marble like boulders on the beach. Pass through Oamaru and Timaru and cross the sheep and cropping areas of the fertile Canterbury Plains. The snow-capped Southern Alps can be seen to the West for much of the journey.

On arrival in Christchurch you'll be transferred to your hotel, then head out to enjoy your final night in New Zealand. (Overnight Christchurch) B

DAY 19 - END OF TOUR

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before taking your car the airport for your flight home, or to continue your travels elsewhere. B

Grand Millennium Hotel Auckland

Grand Millennium Hotel Auckland

The Grand Millennium Auckland boasts an excellent location in the city center, close to Queen Street and Viaduct Harbour with some of the city's finest finest dining, shopping and entertainment venues at your doorstep.The Grand Millennium prides itself on providing excellent service with sylish rooms and fantastic facilities including heated pool, multiple options for onsite dining, Concierge, gym and complimentary wifi.

Distinction Christchurch Hotel

Distinction Christchurch Hotel

The recently renovated Distinction Christchurch is ideally positioned in the heart of the city in the buzzing Cathedral Square, just a few minutes walk to the Avon River, Botanical Gardens & Cashel Mall. This elegant hotel boasts spacious, modern accomodations with onsite dining, free high speed wifi, brand new gym and many fantastic in-room amenities.

Distinction Christchurch Hotel

Distinction Christchurch Hotel

The recently renovated Distinction Christchurch is ideally positioned in the heart of the city in the buzzing Cathedral Square, just a few minutes walk to the Avon River, Botanical Gardens & Cashel Mall. This elegant hotel boasts spacious, modern accomodations with onsite dining, free high speed wifi, brand new gym and many fantastic in-room amenities.

Scenic Hotel Dunedin City

Scenic Hotel Dunedin City

This stylish hotel has a fresh contemporary design, with clean lines and dramatic features softened by natural elements such as timber and neutral tones. At once energetic, yet restful, Scenic Hotel Dunedin City is well in tune with the beat of this vibrant city. Located in the heart of the city and just blocks from the Octagon, Scenic Hotel Dunedin City is within walking distance of many of the city's main attractions, great restaurants and shopping centres.

Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands Paihia

Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands Paihia

Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands has island-influenced architecture with beautifully landscaped grounds and light airy rooms. Situated at the entrance to the seaside town of Paihia, it’s a pleasant stroll into town to the main wharf, visitor activities, fine dining and shopping.

While staying at the 4-star Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands you will experience our lush gardens, with water features and easy walking access to Paihia's main local attractions. Any time of year is ideal for escaping to the Bay of Islands in the ‘Winterless North’, and this property is the perfect resort-style retreat.

Novotel Rotorua

Novotel Rotorua

Check in to comfort with the lake at your doorstep at Novotel Rotorua Lakeside Hotel. Rejuvenate in the spa's natural geothermal mineral pools and experience a delicious Maori hangi at Matariki. Your room is a calm haven with earthy colours, wood furniture and picture windows to make the most of the spectacular scenery at Novotel.

Conveniently located in the heart of Rotorua township, Novotel Rotorua Lakeside is the perfect base to see all that New Zealand's geothermal capital has to offer. Take a short stroll to the lakefront.

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor Wellington

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor Wellington

The James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor is located in the heart of Wellington's city center and features two onsite restaurants, onsite spa, complimentary gym and guest yoga as well as 24 hour room service, Concierge and complimentary wi-fi. The hotel is walking distance to many fantastic attractions including the cable car and famous Lambton Quay - on the "golden mile" of shopping in Wellington.

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef

In the heart of the village and edge of the Westland World Heritage Park, the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier is only a breath away from the spectacular Franz Josef Glacier. Our hotel offers an exceptional restaurant and bar, private hot pools and luxury spa as well as free wifi and concierge service.

Scenic Suites Queenstown

Scenic Suites Queenstown

Take in the picturesque beauty from this luxurious Queenstown hotel. Enjoy the comfort and impressive style of the hotel then head out to explore the many attractions Queenstown has to offer.

Scenic Suites Queenstown provides one of the most sought after locations for Queenstown hotels. The hotel’s elevated position gives fantastic views of the Southern Alps and over Lake Wakatipu. It’s hard to go past Scenic Suites Queenstown with its convenience and quality of four-star apartment style accommodation.

Select Your Departure Date

For more information or to make a reservation, call our rail holiday experts at:
1 (800) 268-7252
Disclaimer:

Prices are per person and subject to availability, based on two people sharing a standard twin or double room. Prices are subject to change. Single occupancy supplements will apply for solo travellers. Hotel and room facilities vary and may be subject to additional fees. Some hotels require payment of local city taxes on arrival. Please call for pricing. We accept all major credit and debit cards.

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