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South Island Springtime Rail Tour

by exclusive charter train

Welcome to our nineteenth South Island Rail Tour – the popular Springtime 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.

We resume the scenic rail section from Picton along the Kaikoura coastline in the aftermath of the 2016 earthquake – a credit to the outstanding work that has gone on since.

We traverse the Southern Alps in both directions, ride the historic Taieri Gorge train through the spectacular Central Otago hinterland, enjoy two nights in picturesque Queenstown and cruise stunning Milford Sound.

Each night we stay in comfortable hotels where all guest rooms have their own private facilities and all breakfasts are included.

Our tour escorts ensure your 14-day tour is relaxing, fun and memorable.

Morning, afternoon teas and lunches on the train are included most days as well as many dinners.

This is a special tour; seats are limited and will sell quickly. We look forward to welcoming you on our South Island Springtime Rail Tour.

  • Silver Fern
  • Tranz Alpine
  • Arthurs Pass
  • Dunedin Rail way Station
  • Kaikoura Coast

Your travel itinerary

Saturday 19 October

Auckland – Wellington

Lunch iconLunch Dinner iconDinner

Your adventure begins at The Strand Station in 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 20 October

Wellington – Picton

Breakfast iconBreakfast Dinner iconDinner

Enjoy a leisurely morning including a city tour, before transferring to 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 21 October

Picton – Christchurch

Breakfast iconBreakfast Lunch iconLunch Dinner iconDinner

After breakfast we join our chartered train for a leisurely journey along the picturesque Kaikoura Coast to Christchurch. We pass through Blenheim with its many vineyards and along the Kaikoura coastline to Christchurch in the aftermath of the 2016 earthquake – a credit to the outstanding work that has gone on since.

After a short stop, we head inland through the rolling hill country of North Canterbury and on to Christchurch. Transfer to our central hotel.

Tuesday 22 October

Christchurch – Greymouth

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We board our train to traverse the spectacular Southern Alps to the rugged West Coast on the route known as the Tranz Alpine. We cross the Canterbury Plains through Darfield and Springfield, climb the mountain range with scenic stops along the way including Arthurs Pass, famous for its Weka population. Our descent by coach takes us to the legendary town of Otira where we re-join our train and travel through rain forests and wetlands to Greymouth for a two night stay.

Wednesday 23 October


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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 24 October

Greymouth – Oamaru

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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 25 October

Oamaru – Dunedin

Breakfast iconBreakfast Dinner iconDinner

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 Forsyth Barr sports stadium.

Saturday 26 October

Dunedin - Queenstown

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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 Middlemarch, the rural art deco town of Ranfurly and other iconic towns to Clyde to view the impressive dam. Later pass Lake Dunstan, Cromwell and along the Kawerau Valley to Queenstown for a two night stay.

Sunday 27 October


Breakfast iconBreakfast

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 28 October

Queenstown – Te Anau

Breakfast iconBreakfast Dinner iconDinner

After breakfast, we drive to the colourful former gold mining town of Arrowtown for a brief stop before following the Lake Wakatipu shoreline past Kingston to Lake Te Anau for a two- night stay. An optional tour to the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves is available.

Tuesday 29 October

Te Anau – Milford Sound Cruise

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Drive through mountain beech forests framed by spectacular snow-capped mountains and the Homer Tunnel before emerging at Milford Sound. As you cruise alongside massive rock faces rising hundreds of metres and cascading waterfalls, you will be captivated by the closeness and beauty of this World Heritage region. Enjoy lunch on board before returning to Te Anau for dinner.

Wednesday 30 October

Te Anau – Invercargill – Bluff – Dunedin

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An early morning start as we drive along the scenic southern route and the rich Southland countryside via Riverton to the southern city of Invercargill for lunch. Continue on the Bluff, one of the oldest settlements in New Zealand and home to the Bluff Oysters and deep water port. Return to Invercargill to board our train and head north through Gore and Balclutha to Dunedin for a one night stay.

Thursday 31 October

Dunedin – Christchurch

Breakfast iconBreakfast Lunch iconLunch Dinner iconDinner

After breakfast we head north by coach to Palmerston, where we board our train to Oamaru, 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 01 November

Christchurch – Auckland

Breakfast iconBreakfast

Transfer to the airport for return flights to Auckland or other destinations.


  • 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 escorts, drivers and guides
  • Comfortable air-conditioned coaches with panoramic windows
  • Airfares from Christchurch to Auckland and other destinations (conditions apply)
  • Luggage handling on tour
  • Gratuities


Cost Per Person *
Auckland - Auckland
Twin ShareSingle
   $5,499  $6,544
 From Wellington (13 days)        $5,295  $6,240

*This is a cash or cheque price. Credit cards will incur a 2% fee
*Itinerary and costs subject to change, airline and fuel charges and currency fluctuations prior to final payment


  • Travel Insurance – please ask us for quote
  • Items of a personal nature

Booking Conditions

  • A non-refundable deposit of $500 per person will secure a place on the tour.
  • FULL PAYMENT is due no later than 05 September 2019.
  • Bookings made after 05 September 2019 must be paid in full at time of booking.


  • Deposit – non-refundable
  • After 05 September 2019 – no refund
  • All cancellations are on a per-person basis

Travel Insurance

We strongly advise all participants to take out suitable travel insurance to cover cancellation costs. Please ask us for a quote.

Optional Tours

These optional tours have been popular with previous groups. They attract a separate charge and can be included at time of final payment (see booking form)


Thursday 24                 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 27                   Lake Wakatipu Cruise (TSS Earnshaw)                                   $95 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 27                   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 28                 Te Anau Glow Worm Caves                                       $95 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.

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 400m unaided.
|Mobility frames are not practical or permitted.

Note: Pukekohe Travel reserves the right to correct errors and omissions on our website without recourse.
* Itinerary subject to change