2017 South Island Springtime Rail Tour
Saturday 14 Auckland – Wellington L D
Your adventure begins in downtown Auckland or at any other regular stations on the main trunk line to Wellington. Board your carriage on the ‘Northern Explorer’ train for the daylight journey and travel through the Waikato to Hamilton, Otorohanga and Te Kuiti.
Among today’s highlights is the circular climb up the famous engineering feat – the Raurimu Spiral to the Central Plateau and Tongariro National Park with spectacular views of Mt Ruapehu. Continue on to Ohakune, Waiouru and alongside the Rangitikei River to Palmerston North, before the scenic Kapiti Coast and the run into the capital for an overnight stay. Welcome dinner tonight.
Sunday 15 Wellington – Picton B D
Enjoy a morning city tour, before arriving at the ferry for an early afternoon Cook Strait crossing to the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. Arrive in Picton late afternoon and transfer to our central accommodation.
Monday 16 Picton – Christchurch B L D
After breakfast we travel by coach through Blenheim, past picturesque vineyards to the small alpine village of St Arnaud. Continue to the former mining town of Murchison for lunch before travelling through Maruia Springs and passing Hanmer Springs to Christchurch. Transfer to our central city hotel.
Tuesday 17 Christchurch – Greymouth B L D
All aboard the train to traverse the spectacular Southern Alps to the rugged West Coast on the route known as the Trans Alpine railway. From Christchurch, cross the Canterbury Plains through Darfield and Springfield, climb the mountain range with scenic stops along the way to Arthurs Pass, famous for its Weka population. Our descent takes us past the legendary town of Otira before emerging into the renowned rain forests and wetlands to Greymouth for a two night stay.
Wednesday 18 Greymouth B D
A sightseeing day to this unique part of New Zealand, passing through typical West Coast bush and rain forests to Hokitika. Return to Greymouth via Shanty Town (a replica of an old gold mining town) for dinner and a relaxing evening.
Thursday 19 Greymouth – Oamaru B L D
We re-trace our steps through the Southern Alps passing through Rolleston near Christchurch, Timaru and on to Oamaru renowned for its white stone buildings for an overnight stay. An optional evening tour to see the blue penguins is available.
Friday 20 Oamaru – Dunedin B D
A leisurely start to the day before boarding our train to Dunedin, passing through rolling farmland and picturesque coastline to arrive at our inner city hotel around midday.
Later enjoy a coach sightseeing tour of the ‘Edinburgh of the South’ including Signal Hill, the world’s steepest street, Botanical Gardens, University and the new sports stadium.
Saturday 21 Dunedin - Queenstown B L D
After breakfast we take the Taieri Gorge Railway for the spectacular scenic journey over viaducts and through narrow tunnels to Pukerangi. Join our coaches and continue by road through the timeless dry brown landscapes and ancient mountains of Central Otago, stopping at the rural art deco town of Ranfurly and continuing through other iconic towns to Clyde to view the impressive dam. Later pass Lake Dunstan, Cromwell and along the Kawerau Valley, stopping at the former gold mining settlement of Arrowtown before arriving in Queenstown for a two night stay.
Sunday 22 Queenstown B
Today is at leisure to enjoy ‘The Jewel of the South’ with an optional lake cruise on the historic steamship TSS Earnslaw or a special helicopter ride over the area. Maybe take the gondola to admire the panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu or for the more adventurous, a jet boat trip on the Shotover River. The choice is extensive.
Monday 23 Queenstown – Te Anau B D
After breakfast, follow the Lake Wakatipu shoreline past Kingston, lunch along the way and continue on to the beautiful Lake Te Anau for a two night stay. Afternoon optional tour to the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves is available.
Tuesday 24 Te Anau – Milford Sound Cruise B L D
Drive through mountain beech forests framed by spectacular snow-capped mountains and the Homer Tunnel before emerging at Milford Sound. You will be captivated by the closeness and beauty of this World Heritage region as you cruise alongside pristine native forests, enjoying lunch on board. Return to your hotel for dinner.
Wednesday 25 Te Anau – Invercargill – Bluff – Dunedin B L D
An early morning start as we drive through the rich Southland countryside via Riverton to Bluff for a brief stop (the start or end of SH1). Board our train for a short stop in Invercargill before heading north through Gore and Balclutha to Dunedin for a one night stay.
Thursday 26 Dunedin – Christchurch B L D
After breakfast we head north along the coastal rail route through Palmerston, Oamaru and Timaru and the Canterbury plains via Ashburton to Christchurch and farewell our chartered train. Farewell Dinner tonight to end our wonderful southern rail experience.
Friday 27 Christchurch – Auckland B
Transfer to the airport for return flights to Auckland or other destinations.
*Itinerary and costs subject to schedule changes.
* Travelling on our own chartered train
* 13 nights hotel accommodation (see details)
* Cooked breakfasts daily
* Eight lunches and 12 dinners
* Morning and afternoon tea on board the train
* All sightseeing and entrance fees as specified
* Commentaries provided by your escort, drivers and guides
* Comfortable air-conditioned coaches with panoramic windows
* Airfares from Christchurch to Auckland and other destinations (conditions apply)
* Luggage handling on tour
* Extended cancellation insurance
* Items of a personal nature
We advise all participants to take out suitable travel insurance to cover cancellation costs. Please contact us for details.
* A non-refundable deposit of $500 per person will secure a place on the tour.
* FULL PAYMENT is due no later than 11 August 2017.
* Bookings made after 11 August 2017 must be paid in full at time of booking.
* Deposit – non-refundable
* After 11 August 2017 – no refund
Health and Fitness
* At times, entering and exiting the train can be very demanding for those with limited mobility.
* To ensure the tour is enjoyable for the whole group, a good standard of fitness is required with the ability to walk 400 metres comfortably.
* Mobility frames are not practical or permitted.
All cancellation charges are on a per-person basis.
No refund can be made once tour is underway.
The options below prove popular with our Groups.
Thursday 19 Blue Penguin Colony visit (Oamaru) $28 per person
The birds return from their days fishing, make their way across the beach, up a stony ramp and cross to the colony. The colony began when a small number of blue penguins began nesting in a rock quarry area at the edge of Oamaru Harbour in the early 1990s. Today it is Oamaru’s largest tourist attraction.
Sunday 22 Lake Wakatipu Cruise (TSS Earnshaw) $79 per person
A three and a half hour excursion departing Steamer’s Wharf in Queenstown at noon on the coal-fired TSS Earnshaw. Spectacular views of the resort township and the Remarkable Ranges abound. Enjoy afternoon tea at Walters Peak Station.
Sunday 22 Queenstown Helicopter Flight $455 per person
Look down on the spectacular scenery as you cross Lake Wakatipu with a special landing high above the lake. Continue over Ben Lomond and the famous Skippers Canyon. See the renowned steep canyon walls of the Shotover River, flying past Coronet peak and the Wakatipu Basin.
Monday 23 Te Anau Glow Worm Caves $81 per person
Described by the Sydney Morning Herald as “one of the most unusual limestone cave experiences on the planet’, the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves is a must-do for anyone visiting Fiordland.
These optional tours attract a separate charge. These options can be included at time of final payment (see booking form)