Begin by taking the Glenbrook Vintage Steam Train from Auckland through lush rural countryside to visit a locomotive workshop and admire historic engines. Ride a hybrid railcruise vehicle in Rotorua, where you can discover Maori culture (and enjoy a traditional hangi feast) in this strange, otherworldly landscape of geysers and mud pools. Then board the Northern Explorer Train past the volcanoes and farmland of North Island.
Take time out to explore Wellington. New Zealand’s modest capital has plenty of energy and a surprisingly avant-garde attitude. Take the famous red cable car from downtown to admire panoramic views, walk the waterfront or visit the superlative Te Papa Museum, whose interactive, high-tech exhibits trace the country’s geology, history and wildlife.
Each night you’ll arrive at another great destination. You’ll be accompanied by a Tour Director to smooth your way and provide expert knowledge and insider tips, with tours designed to enhance your appreciation of New Zealand. Yet you’ll also have downtime so you can relax and explore. It’s all about experiences and flexibility – although you will need to be on time for the trains.
On South Island, the landscapes become ever more dramatic. The Coastal Pacific Train takes you through picturesque landscapes along the rugged east coast. Then, journey on the renowned TranzAlpine Train along Waimakariri River and across the Southern Alps between Christchurch and Greymouth; a ride of stunning beauty. You’ll visit Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, giant tumbles of fractured ice.
Take some time out in Queenstown, holiday and adrenaline capital of the Alps, where you can ride a jet boat or simply enjoy the great dining scene. Then cruise Milford Sound before resuming your train travel. Taieri Gorge Railway brings you to Dunedin through a narrow river gorge, 10 tunnels and a spectacular viaduct. The Seasider Train then allows you to unwind as you travel along Otago Harbour towards Waitati.
That’s your rail journeys completed, but New Zealand’s brilliant landscapes aren’t done yet. The journey concludes with visits to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and Lake Tekapo, which has a remarkable turquoise colour and is surrounded by the fangs of the snowcovered Southern Alps. It’s an astonishing last hurrah, and further proof that New Zealand is arguably the world’s most beautiful country.