New Zealand holiday with scenic rail journeys

Tailor-made holidays
Duration (in days): 22

From: Auckland

To: Christchurch

From

£3,850

Inc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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Overview

Explore the highlights of both islands by train with views of the diverse countryside in the North to the rugged coastline and spectacular mountain scenery of the South Island. Including some of the most scenic rail journeys in New Zealand, this trip allows you to witness this stunning landscape from the comfort of your train seat.

Begin your journey in Auckland for some city culture before heading south, stopping in on the east coasts famed Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel Peninsula, learning about traditional Maori culture in Rotorua and hiking the Tongariro Crossing. After catching the ferry across to the South Island from Wellington, there is the chance to do some whale spotting or swim with the dolphins in Kaikoura, before venturing to the stunning glaciers and fjord lands of the deep south.

This trip combines self-driving and scenic rail to create an unforgettable New Zealand holiday, from Maori feasts in Rotorua to spectacular glaciers in Franz Josef, this will be a trip to remember!

This New Zealand holiday can be tailored to suit your requirements, please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.

This holiday includes

  • International flights
  • All transfers
  • All accommodation
  • Rail journeys as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Excursions as mentioned in the itinerary

Highlights

  • See both the North & South islands of New Zealand by car and by rail
  • Take a ride on the Driving Creek Railway in the Coromandel
  • Learn about the Maori way of life in the culture capital, Rotorua
  • Visit the vibrant capital city of Wellington
  • Go whale watching off the coast of Kaikoura
  • Travel on both the Coastal Pacific & Tranzalpine railways
  • Explore the Franz Josef glacier on an ‘Ice Explorer’ tour
New Zealand holiday with scenic rail journeys | map
Itinerary

 

Itinerary in brief:

  • 2 nights Auckland
  • 2 nights Coromandel Peninsula
  • 1 night Rotorua
  • 2 nights Tongariro
  • 1 night Wellington
  • 1 night Hanmer Springs
  • 1 night Kaikoura
  • 1 night Christchurch
  • 2 nights Dunedin
  • 1 night Te Anau
  • 2 nights Queenstown
  • 2 nights Franz Josef
  • 1 night Christchurch

 

Days 1 & 2: Depart UK

Depart the UK from your chosen airport.

Included: International flight

Day 2: Arrive in Auckland

On arrival in Auckland, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

The rest of the day is at leisure. For great views of the city skyline, head up to the Sky Tower or Mount Eden for a great 360-degree lookout. Spend the evening strolling along the harbour and perhaps dine out in one of the cities great eateries.

Included: Arrival transfer & hotel

Day 3: Free day Auckland

Today is a free day, so why not venture a little further today and check out the nearby islands, only a short ferry crossing away?

Devonport is a quaint, historic village by the sea with many cafes and boutiques, art galleries, stunning beaches and two fantastic look-out points for arguably the best views of Auckland. For something a little different, journey further out to sea to the volcanic Rangitoto Island with its unique native landscape and fascinating wildlife.

Included: Breakfast & hotel

Day 4: Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula (approx. 176 km/2 hrs 15 mins driving)

After breakfast, your car will be dropped off at your hotel. Next stop is off to the Coromandel Township, this area in New Zealand is truly unique and renowned for its natural beauty whether you are gazing on rural farmland from your car or pristine golden beaches at the coast. Continue east to Mercury Bay’s main town of Whitianga in the afternoon to relax for the evening.

Included: Breakfast, rental car, Driving Creek Railway & hotel

Day 5: Free day Coromandel Peninsula

Today is a free day, why not explore the nearby tourist hot spot of Hahei, home to Te Whanganui- A-Hei Marine Reserve where kayaking, fishing and boat trips are among some of the many activities you could indulge in. The stunning coastal walk (2 hours return) to Cathedral Cove is one of the highlights of the area with intricate caves, underwater arches and an abundance of marine life to feast your eyes on.

Included: Breakfast, car rental & hotel

Day 6: Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua (approx. 210 km/3 hours driving)

After breakfast, set off on your drive to which is known for its geothermal activity. Why not check out the dramatic geysers or have a dip in the therapeutic hot mud pools whilst you’re here?

This evening, you could add on a traditional Hangi feast to your trip and learn more about the fascinating Maori culture.

Included: Breakfast, car hire & hotel

Day 7: Rotorua to Tongariro National Park (approx. 87 km/1 hour driving)

Make your way to Tongariro today, stopping off at Lake Taupo en route.

This stunning lake is about the size of Singapore and you can explore by kayak, or simply by walking a section of the perimeter.

Don’t forget to visit Huka Falls to the north of the lake where more than 220,000 litres of water thunders over the cliff every second.

Included: Breakfast, car hire & hotel

Day 8: Tongariro National Park

Today we have included a day trip in New Zealand’s oldest national park. You will be collected and taken to walk or ride along the historic cobblestone Coach Road through a bush corridor on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu. Here you’ll see magnificent Rimu trees, native falcons and the old railway tunnel.

Included: Breakfast, Full day tour - Old Coach Road – Rail Trails Cycleway & hotel

Day 9: Tongariro National Park to Wellington (approx. 330 km/4 hours driving)

Today, make your way to the capital city of Wellington, a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant and creative culture.

Check out the cafes and shops in the centre and around Oriental Bay or perhaps spend an afternoon exploring The Te Papa Museum, New Zealand’s excellent National Museum with interactive exhibits. Take a ride on the historic cable car – a vintage Wellington icon that runs through the Botanical Gardens, or enjoy a 360-degree view from the summit of Mount Victoria.

Included: Breakfast, car hire & hotel

Day 10: Wellington/ Picton/ Hanmer Springs (approx. 364 km/5 hours driving)

Return your rental car at Wellington Ferry terminal before boarding the Interislander Ferry across to Picton in the South Island. This is a stunning journey with views of both islands.

On arrival in Picton collect your car rental and continue the journey to Hanmer Springs, located in the Canterbury Region this resort town is known for its natural hot pools and stunning landscapes. Surrounded by dramatic scenery, home to boutique shops, cafes and eateries and surrounded by wild scenery perfect for hiking and biking there is plenty to keep you amused on your one night stay here.

Included: Breakfast, Interislander Ferry, car hire & hotel

Day 11: Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura  (130kms/2 hours driving)

After a full breakfast at your hotel, it's back on the road again to your next destination, Kaikoura

Kaikoura is one of the top destinations in the world to see Giant Sperm Whales, so this afternoon we’ve included a whale-watching cruise for a mesmerising close-up encounter with these majestic creatures. Depending on the time of year, you may even get to see some frolicking Dusky Dolphins.

Included: Breakfast, whale watching cruise, car hire & hotel

Day 12: Kaikoura to Christchurch  (approx. 185kms/2.5 hours driving)

Enjoy a morning at leisure in Kaikoura, before setting off again on the next leg of your journey down to Christchurch. On arrival, check in to your hotel for a 1-night stay, and you have the remainder of the day at leisure.

Included: Continental breakfast, car hire, hotel

Day 13: Christchurch to Dunedin (approx. 379 km/5 hours driving)

After breakfast, your rental car will be delivered to your hotel and you can begin the drive to Dunedin.

Depending on your route, you could choose to go via the beautiful Lake Tekapo, turquoise in colour and set amidst a stunning mountain backdrop for picture-perfect views.

Known as the ‘Edinburgh of New Zealand’, Dunedin is proud of its Scottish heritage with some of the oldest architecture in New Zealand. Why not seek out one of the stately homes on offer such as Lanarch Castle or sample local ale in Speight’s Brewery?

Included: Breakfast, car rental & hotel

Day 14: Dunedin

Today we have included a day trip to the Otago Central Railtrail. Leave Dunedin on the Taieri Gorge Train this morning and you’ll get off the coach at the other end.

You’ll have an opportunity to cycle one of the most beautiful parts of the 150 km Otago Central Railtrail enjoying the stunning scenery of the Taieri Gorge Railway. Hiring a bike is one of the best ways to see the array of beaches and wildlife on offer in this little place.

After lunch ay Hyde Café, you will continue on your bikes in the afternoon before being taken to Pukerangi where you will catch the Taieri Gorge Train back to Dunedin.

Included: Breakfast, day trip to Otago Central Railtrail, lunch & hotel

Day 15: Dunedin to Te Anau   (approx. 290 km/3½ hours driving)

After soaking up the culture and heritage of Dunedin, we take you back to nature today as you drive onwards to the small township of Te Anau.

The famously scenic Milford Road begins here, so be prepared for some great walks.

If you have time, the Te Anau Glowworm Caves are well worth a visit. After a beautiful cruise across the lake, dip into the 15,000-year-old cave lit up by thousands of the tiny bioluminescent creatures!

Included: Breakfast, car hire & hotel

Day 16: Te Anau/Milford Sound/Queenstown    (approx. 405 km/6 hours driving)

It’s an early start this morning with a drive to the majestic fjord, lands which the south island is famed for.

We’ve included a Milford Sounds cruise today, so grab your camera and capture plunging waterfalls cascading over the towering cliffs and peaks including the iconic Mitre Peak that rises more than a kilometre out of the sea.

You’ll see an abundance of wildlife, from seals basking on the rocks to the lush rainforest clinging to the sheer rock faces. After your cruise concludes, head onwards to Queenstown for your overnight stay.

Included: Breakfast, car rental, Milford Sounds cruise & hotel

Day 17: Free day Queenstown

Today is free for you to explore the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. Whether you simply meander through the boutiques, cafes and bars or take things up a notch and engage in any of the high-energy thrill-seeking activities is up to you! You’ll find everything in Queenstown from Bungee jumps to Skydiving to jet-boating.

Included: Breakfast & hotel

Day 18: Queenstown to Franz Josef; (approx. 353 km/4½ hours driving)

After breakfast, its time to drive to Franz Josef. Perhaps stop off at Wanaka for more stunning lake views, hilly hikes and the bafflingly fun ‘Puzzling World’. Relax in your hotel in Franz Josef for the evening before more action-packed fun tomorrow.

Included: Breakfast, car hire & hotel

Day 19: Franz Josef

Today you will join a small group hike on a Heli Hike tour of the Franz Josef glacier.

Begin with a short helicopter ride for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this reminder of the last ice age, before taking a 2-hour hike on the ice through towering pinnacles and crystal blue ice.

If getting active on the ice doesn’t appeal, why not walk to the base of the glacier through a rugged valley to get a view from the bottom instead?

Included: Breakfast, Ice Explorer tour & hotel

Day 20: Franz Josef to Greymouth to Christchurch (approx. 177 km/2½ hours driving)

After breakfast, head to Greymouth and drop off your car to join the Tranzalpine train to Christchurch. This rail journey is arguably New Zealand’s most scenic, through the Canterbury Plains.

Soak up views of alpine landscapes, deep gorges and mountainous vistas before arriving in the final destination of this whirlwind tour - the ‘Garden City’ of New Zealand, Christchurch. On arrival, you will be greeted and taken to your hotel.

Included: Breakfast, Tranzalpine train journey  & hotel

Day 21: Depart Christchurch

After breakfast, you will be collected from your hotel and taken to the airport for your onward journey.

Included: Departure transfer & international flight

Day 22: Arrive UK


 

Info

New Zealand is a year-round destination and there is always something to see and enjoy whatever time you decide to travel. High season runs from December to February (summer), prices will be at a premium at these times and availability limited so it is advisable to book in advance. March to April and September to November can be a great time to travel as the weather is fine and the crowds fewer. Low season is May to August (winter) for most of New Zealand, this is, however, the best time for skiing and so ski towns such as Queenstown will be at their busiest.

Are you looking for more New Zealand ideas?

We’re experts in planning tailor-made holidays, so whether you’re looking for a luxury New Zealand holiday, ideas for a road trip or multi-stop flights to New Zealand with stopovers – let us help you with the planning. Our experts can tailor-make precisely the trip you’re looking for – this itinerary is purely a suggestion, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.

What's included: 

  • International flights
  • Return airport transfers
  • All accommodation
  • Rail journeys as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Excursions as mentioned in the itinerary

Not included: 

  • Any optional excursions
  • Any meals not mentioned
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips & gratuities
Accommodation

15 nights in boutique bed & breakfast style accommodation, including:

Plus:

  • Kaoutunu Bay Lodge, Coromandel Peninsula

  • Chateau Tongariro Hotel, Tongariro

  • Captain Eady’s Lookout, Dunedin

  • Te Anau Lodge, Te Anau

  • Holly Homestead, Franz Josef

 

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