South Island Springtime Rail Tour
by exclusive charter train
30 September – 13 October 2017
Welcome to our twelfth New Zealand Rail Tour – the popular Springtime sojourn in the South Island.
Experience the scenic South Island in style, travelling aboard our exclusive charter train.
Each carriage is comfortably equipped with full on-board facilities and the large panoramic windows offer uninterrupted views not seen when travelling by road.
Spring in October provides a stunning panorama and when coupled with the snow-capped southern-mountains scenery, this tour will be a wonderful New Zealand experience.
Scenic highlights abound, but as we operate to our own charter train schedule, numerous photo stops and opportunities occur en-route.
Our tour escort and hosts ensure your 14-day tour is relaxing, fun and memorable.
Each night we stay in comfortable hotels where all guest rooms have their own private facilities and all breakfasts are included.
Morning, afternoon teas and lunches on the train are included most days as well as many dinners.
No South Island tour would be complete without including
Saturday 30 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
Sunday 01 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 02 Picton – Westport – Greymouth B L D
After breakfast we travel by coach through Blenheim, past picturesque vineyards and up the Wairau Valley to the small alpine village of St Arnaud.
Continue down the Buller Gorge to the former mining town of Murchison for lunch and onto Westport.
Board the ‘Silver Fern’ railcar for the nostalgic journey through the iconic, former coal mining towns of Inungahua and Reefton to Greymouth. Check into hotel for two night stay.
Tuesday 03 Greymouth B D
A sightseeing day to this unique part of New Zealand, passing through 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.
Wednesday 04 Greymouth – Christchurch B L D
Our rail traverse of the spectacular Southern Alps takes us through the renowned West Coast rain forests and wetlands and the legendary town of Otira to Arthurs Pass, famous for its Weka population.
Cross the Canterbury Plains through Springfield and Darfield to Christchurch for a one night stay in a centrally-located hotel.
Thursday 05 Christchurch – Akaroa – Ashburton B D
Depart by coach for an excursion to Banks Peninsula. The drive through natural beauty has spectacular views overlooking bays and beaches before arriving in Akaroa with time to enjoy the history, harbour and French character.
Retrace our journey to Rolleston and re-join our train to arrive in the large farming town of Ashburton for an overnight stay.
Friday 06 Ashburton – Dunedin B L D
Depart Ashburton via Timaru and Oamaru (renowned for its white stone buildings) and through rolling farmland and picturesque coastline to arrive at our Dunedin inner city hotel around midday for an overnight stay.
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 07 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, before arriving in Queenstown for a two night stay.
Sunday 08 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 09 Queenstown – Te Anau B D
After breakfast, travel to the former gold mining settlement of Arrowtown before following the Lake Wakatipu shoreline to Kingston. Stop for lunch on the way to Te Anau for a two night stay. Afternoon optional tour to the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves Is available.
Tuesday 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 Christchurch – Auckland B
Transfer to the airport for return flights to Auckland or other destinations.
*Itinerary and costs subject to schedule changes.
COSTS* Per person / twin share (all prices in NZD)
From Auckland & other joining towns $5,499
Single Room Supplement +$1,045From Wellington (13 days) $5,179
Single Room Supplement $879
One night Auckland - pre tour Please ask
Extra night Christchurch – post tour Please ask
* This is a cash / cheque price. Credit cards incur a 2% fee.
We advise all participants to take out suitable travel insurance to cover cancellation costs.
Please ask us for details.
Health and Fitness
All cancellation charges are on a per-person basis.
No refund can be made once tour is underway.
About our accommodation
Accommodation has been carefully selected on location, a high standard of comfort and friendly, helpful service. A cooked breakfast and a three course or buffet dinner are included on most days. Rooms have single, twin or double beds, en-suite bathroom, television, radio, telephone and generally have tea and coffee making facilities.
Optional Tours (all prices in NZD
The options below prove popular with our Groups.
Sunday 8 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
Sunday 08 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 09 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)