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South Island Autumn Colours Rail Tour

Featuring Franz Josef

 The Scenic South Island

Experience the scenic south in style, travelling aboard our exclusive charter train.

In April, autumn provides a stunning panorama of colour and when coupled with the magnificent southern mountain scenery, this tour will be a wonderful New Zealand experience.

We resume the scenic rail section from Picton, along the Kaikoura coastline to Christchurch. We traverse the Southern Alps in both directions, plus ride the historic Taieri Gorge Train through the spectacular Central Otago hinterland.

No South Island tour would be complete without including Central Otago, Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Sound and we take you to these special places.

Our tour escort and hosts ensure your 15-day tour is relaxing, fun and memorable.

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

Your travel itinerary

Saturday 04 April

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 05 April

Wellington – Picton

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Enjoy a morning city tour, before arriving at the ferry for an early afternoon Cook Strait crossing

too the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. Arrive in Picton late afternoon and transfer to our central accommodation.

Monday 06 April

Picton – Blenheim - Christchurch

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A morning of sightseeing en route to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim followed by a vineyard lunch. We then continue our journey onboard the Coastal Pacific Train travelling along the picturesque Kaikoura Coast to Christchurch. We pass through Kaikoura famous for its whale watching and head inland through the rolling hill country of North Canterbury.

Tuesday 07 April

Christchurch – Franz Josef

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After breakfast, board the Tranz Alpine Train to journey across the spectacular Southern Alps to the rugged West Coast. Cross the Canterbury Plains through Darfield and after a short stop in Springfield, climb the mountain range with scenic stops along the way including Arthurs Pass. We continue through the renowned rain forests and wetlands to arrive in Greymouth. Transfer to our coaches and enjoy a scenic drive to Franz Josef for our two night stay.

Wednesday 08 April

Franz Josef

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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 (famous for its greenstone). If you prefer an optional helicopter ride to Franz Josef Glacier and Mt Cook is available. Return to Franz Joseph for dinner and a relaxing evening.

Thursday 09 April

Franz Josef - Christchurch

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We re-trace our steps along the West Coast and through the Southern Alps by train, passing through Rolleston and onto Christchurch for an overnight stay.

Friday 10 April

Christchurch - Dunedin

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A leisurely start to the day before joining our chartered train and travelling south passing through rolling farmland and coastal inlets to arrive in Dunedin late afternoon.

Saturday 11 April

Dunedin – Queenstown

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After breakfast, board the Taieri Gorge Railway for the spectacular scenic journey over viaducts and through narrow tunnels to Pukerangi. Lunch on board the train.

Join our coaches and continue by road through vast, timeless, tundra landscapes and ancient mountains of Central Otago, stopping at Middlemarch, the rural art deco town of Ranfurly and continuing through other iconic towns to Clyde to view the impressive hydro power station. Later pass Lake Dunstan, Cromwell and along the Kawerau Valley before arriving in Queenstown for a two night stay.

Sunday 12 April


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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 to Walter Peak Farm where the tour includes afternoon tea.
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 or even a helicopter ride above Lake Wakatipu. The choices are extensive.

Monday 13 April

Queenstown – Te Anau

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After breakfast we head for the colourful former gold mining town of Arrowtown before following the Lake Wakatipu shoreline through farmland to the beautiful Lake Te Anau for a two night stay. An afternoon optional tour is available to the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves.

Tuesday 14 April

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 for your lunch time cruise.

Wednesday 15 April

Te Anau - Invercargill

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After breakfast we drive along the scenic southern route and rich Southland countryside to Invercargill. Free time this afternoon. Why not explore the E Hayes Motorworks Museum and gift shop. Something for everyone.

Thursday 16 April

Invercargill - Stewart Island - Invercargill

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This morning an optional tour to Bluff and cross Foveaux Strait by large modern catamaran to Stewart Island. Once on the island you can enjoy an optional leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and Ulva Island or explore the small township of Oban by foot.

Return mid-afternoon to our Invercargill hotel. Dinner is included tonight.

If you prefer not to travel to Stewart Island then you can relax and enjoy all that Invercargill has to offer.

Stewart Island’s densely forested hills, tiny population and untouched coastline of rocky outcrops and creamy golden sand beaches make it a natural refuge for marine and bird life and a wonderful destination for people who value nature and wild places.

Friday 17 April

Invercargill – Dunedin

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After breakfast we board our charter train and head north through Gore and Balclutha to Dunedin. An afternoon sightseeing tour of the ‘Edinburgh of the South’ includes Signal Hill, the world’s steepest street, the Botanical Gardens, University and the new sports stadium. Tonight we celebrate with a farewell dinner.

Saturday 18 April

Dunedin - home

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


    • Travel on a chartered train
    • 14 nights hotel accommodation
    • Cooked breakfasts daily
    • Eight lunches and 13 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
    • All gratuities are included
    • Northern Explorer Train
    • Coastal Pacific Train
    • Trans Alpine Train
    • Tairei Gorge Railway


Cost Per Person *
Auckland - Auckland
Twin ShareSingle
   $5,899  $7,450

*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 February 2020
    • Bookings made after 05 February must be paid in full at time of booking


    • Deposit – non refundable
    • After 05 February 2020 – no refund
    • All cancellation charges are on a per-person basis
    • No refund can be made once tour is underway

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)


Wednesday 08           Fox Glacier to Mt Cook Helicopter Ride (Franz Josef) $360 per person

Imagine flying the entire length of the Fox Glacier, then soaring at eye level against the west face of Aoraki/Mount Cook. There's time for a glacier snow landing before descending the Glacier Valley, with the mountains behind.                                                                     


Sunday 12                   Lake Wakatipu Cruise (TSS Earnslaw)                         $95 per person

A three and a half hour excursion departing Steamer’s Wharf in Queenstown at noon on the coal-fired TSS Earnslaw. Spectacular views of the resort township and the Remarkable Ranges abound. Enjoy afternoon tea at Walters Peak Station.


Sunday 12                   Queenstown Helicopter Flight                                                $455 per person
Look down on spectacular scenery as you cross Lake Wakatipu with a special landing during the flight. Continue over Ben Lomond and the famous historic Skippers Canyon. See the renowned steep canyon walls of the Shotover River and fly passed Coronet Peak and the Wakatipu Basin.                  

Monday 13                 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


Thursday 16                 Return Stewart Island Ferry                             $178 per person

Enjoy a leisurely day on Stewart Island


Thursday 16                 Stewart Island – Ulva Island Explorer                             $277 per person

Return Ferry to Stewart island With lunch included. Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery with its hidden coves and unspoilt beaches. Paterson inlet is home to renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island and we’ll stop there for a 45 minute guided walk. (Group numbers are limited ).


Thursday 16                 Stewart Island Village and Bays Tour                                    $227 per person

Return Ferry to Stewart Island learn about the history and environment of Stewart Island. Our local guides enjoy sharing their knowledge of the area on this mini-bus tour of the Island. (Group numbers are limited ).


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 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