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South Island Springtime Rail Tour

Book before 30 June and Save $500 per couple 

Welcome to our 16th New Zealand Rail Tour – our 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 Central Otago, Queenstown, Te Anau and Milford Sound and we take you to these special places by luxury touring coaches. Between Auckland and Wellington we ride the newly-renovated Northern Explorer train.

Traverse the Alps, not once but twice, ride the historic Taieri Gorge train through the spectacular scenery of central Otago, spend two nights in picturesque Queenstown and cruise stunning Milford Sound.

  • Dunedin Railway Station
  • Tranz-Alpine
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
  • Milford Sound Cruise
  • Oamaru
  • Taieri Gorge Train
  • TSS Earnslaw Queenstown
  • Arthurs Pass

Your travel itinerary

Saturday 13 October

Auckland – Wellington

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Your adventure begins at The Strand 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 lush rolling hills 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 14 October

Wellington - Picton

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Enjoy a morning 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 15 October

Picton - Christchurch

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After breakfast, depart for our coach journey along the picturesque Kaikoura Coast for the first time since the 2016 earthquake to Christchurch. Travel through Blenheim with its many vineyards and onto Kaikoura famous for its whale watching. After a short stop, we head inland through the rolling hill country of North Canterbury and on to Christchurch to our central city hotel.

Tuesday 16 October

Christchurch - Greymouth

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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 17 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 18 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 19 October

Oamaru – Dunedin

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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 20 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 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 21 October


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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 22 October

Queenstown – Te Anau

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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 23 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. 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 24 October

Te Anau –Bluff – Invercargill – Dunedin

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An early morning start as we drive through the rich Southland countryside via Riverton to Bluff for a brief sto, continue onto invercargil for a lunch stop. Depart Invercargill before heading north through Gore and Balclutha to Dunedin for a one night stay.

Thursday 25 October

Dunedin – Christchurch

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After breakfast we head north by coach to Palmerston, where we re-join the ‘Silver Fern’ and travel north through Oamaru and Timaru, the Canterbury plains and Ashburton to Christchurch. Transfer to our hotel for our final night. Enjoy our Farewell Dinner to end our wonderful southern rail experience.

Friday 26 October

Christchurch – Auckland

Breakfast iconBreakfast

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

Highlights at a Glance

  • Exclusive chartered train
  • Raurimu Spiral – Central Plateau
  • Inter-island ferry crossing
  • Marlborough and the Kaikoura Coastline
  • Trans Alpine rail traverse of the Southern Alps
  • West Coast highlights including Hokitika
  • Taieri Gorge Train
  • Coaching through Central Otago with its open tussock
  • Queenstown
  • Milford Sound lunch cruise
  • Dunedin city sights tour
  • Two nights in Greymouth, Queenstown, Te Anau and Dunedin
  • Porterage and transport of your luggage


  • Travel on a 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 experienced 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
  • Gratuities


Cost Per Person *Twin ShareSingle Supplement
 Auckland - Auckland   $5,499  +$1,045
 From Wellington (13 days)        $5,165  +$868
 One night Auckland - pre tour             Price on application  
 Extra night Christchurch – post tour  Price on application  

Book before 30 June and save $250 per person 

*This is a cash or cheque price. Credit cards will incur a 2% fee


  • Cancellation insurance
  • 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 10 August 2018. 
  • Bookings made after 10 August 2018 must be paid in full at time of booking.

Cancellations and Refunds

  • Deposit – non refundable
  • After 02 February 2018 – no refund
  • All cancellation charges 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

The options below proved popular with our previous groups.

They attract a separate charge and can be included at time of final payment (see booking form)

Thursday 18 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 21 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  21 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 22 Te Anau Glow Worm Caves      $93 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 400 metres comfortably.
  • Mobility frames are not practical or permitted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Travelling alone?   Don’t hesitate to book if you are on your own.  Although we are unable to guarantee twin share accommodation for participants travelling individually, we will do our utmost to match suitable participants in share accommodation to avoid the single room supplement.  For those who prefer, we have rooms for sole use.

Can I extend my holiday?

Yes, it is possible to extend your holiday at the end of the tour.  Simply advise us before you make your final payment and prior to issuing your airline ticket (if applicable). 

Can I deduct the airfare from the tour cost?

Yes, where we have included return airfares, if you wish to arrange your own airfares, simply deduct $140 (approx).

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