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New Zealand Rail Holidays

Our rail holidays in New Zealand combine shorter journeys by train with travel by coach and cruise boat – a fabulous mixture of experiences to help you witness the best of the country on an escorted tour. The rail journeys are spectacular and diverse, ranging from a 15km jaunt on the Glenbrook vintage steam train to the four-and-a-half-hour TranzAlpine route which traverses the Southern Alps between Christchurch and Greymouth.

Burrowing through 19 tunnels and crossing four viaducts (one nearly 75m high), the 223km TranzAlpine is one of the world’s classic rail journeys. Operated by The Great Journeys of New Zealand, highlights include the vast agricultural patchwork of the Canterbury Plains, the aqua-blue glacier-fed Waimakariri River and Arthur’s Pass, where many people hop off for a few hours hiking on the alpine tracks of the Southern Alps.

Other great rail journeys of New Zealand include the Northern Explorer which runs between Wellington and Auckland, via Tongariro National Park with its three iconic volcanoes.

New Zealand's Great Rail Journeys

  • Coastal Pacific
  • TranzAlpine
  • Northern Explorer
new zealand coastal pacific train kahutara river gjnz

Coastal Pacific

The Coastal Pacific is a spectacular train journey that operates from Christchurch to Picton in the summer months (between September and May) and takes approximately 5 ½ hours. Travel along the South Island’s rugged coastline, breathtakingly close to the Pacific Ocean. Connecting passengers with the inter-islander ferry and Sound Air Flights, it offers a seamless link between North Island and South Island.

Travel in comfort and style aboard the Coastal Pacific and admire the exceptional views from the panoramic side and roof windows – perfect for capturing dramatic coastal & mountain views.

With comfortable saloon seating throughout, power points accessible from each seat, GPS journey commentary, overhead HD video and a variety of hot or cold food and snacks to sample, travelling on the Coastal Pacific really is the perfect way to experience the beautiful landscape of the Marlborough wine region and New Zealand’s whale-watching capital of Kaikoura, as you make your way to Picton.

new zealand tranzalpine waimakariri river gjnz


One of the world’s most scenic train journeys, the TranzAlpine travels across the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains before journeying alongside the mighty Waimakariri River. Traverse the awe-inspiring Southern Alps before descending into the native beech forest of Greymouth. With over 19 tunnels and 4 viaducts (one reaching nearly 75 metres high), the TranzAlpine is famed for being one of the world’s “must-do” rail journeys.

The TranzAlpine runs daily each year and takes approximately 4 ½ hours. During periods of maintenance alternative coach services may operate for part of the journey.

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Northern Explorer

Travel through rolling green farmland, quaint country towns and along rugged coastline from Auckland to Wellington on New Zealand’s Northern Explorer. Journey through Tongariro National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty, where snow covered fields and dense forests stand side by side.  Witness three of New Zealand’s most spectacular volcanic mountains; Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu, before heading on to the stunning Kapiti Coast.

The Northern Explorer runs Southbound on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and Northbound on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. It takes approximately 10.5 hours.