Great Rail Journeys
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Grand Tour of New Zealand

22 days exploring North and South Island

From $ per person


Enthralling scenery and breathtaking views are found at every turn in the 'Youngest Country on Earth'. Discover steaming geysers, picturesque mountains, bottomless fjords and lush forests on this tour showcasing the beauty of New Zealand's North and South Islands.

The itinerary for your journey
Tour highlights
Days 1-3 - London to Auckland
Flying to New Zealand

Departing from London we fly via Singapore to Auckland, arriving mid-morning on Day 3 and transferring to our hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure before we enjoy dinner together tonight.

Day 4 - Waitangi Treaty House
Waitangi Treaty Ground

Today we travel northwards through scenic farmland to Paihia, located in the truly magnificent Bay of Islands. Here we visit the Waitangi Treaty House, where in 1840 Maori and British people reached an historic agreement which effectively marked the birth of New Zealand.

Day 5 - Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands

After a leisurely morning, we enjoy a cruise around the bay, passing golden beaches. Later we continue up to the rugged Cape Brett and make a stop on Russell Island. Known in the 1800s ominously as the 'Hell Hole of the Pacific, it was a bustling base for whalers and seamen.

Day 6 - Auckland, the ‘City of Sails’
Auckland

This morning we drive south back to Auckland, the country's largest city, known as the 'City of Sails' for the number of yachts that take to the waters around it. The city dates back to around 1350, when it was inhabited by the Maori people, but little recorded history survives before January 1832 when Joseph Brooks Weller bought the area that is now Auckland. Auckland is also the largest in New Zealand, being home to around 30% of the population of the whole country. We explore Auckland on a sightseeing tour, taking in the Hauraki Gulf and the volcanic islands that are characteristic of this beautiful area. We then visit the iconic Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Day 7 - Rotorua
Glenbrook Vintage Railway

This morning we take a trip on the Glenbrook Vintage Railway, which opened in 1922 and ran for 45 years before closing in 1967. Today, the line is operated by steam enthusiasts, and caters to around 30,000 tourists every season. We then travel across the Bombay Hills, through Waikato Valley to Rotorua, the Maoris spiritual home. We visit the Rotorua Museum, which gives an insight into the region's history and culture. We spend two nights in Rotorua at the Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua.

Day 8 - Wai-O-Tapu
Wai-O-Tapu

We visit Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters) to see the Lady Knox Geyser volcano. Here we marvel at the rainbow-coloured pools and former mud volcano, where you can hear the unique sound of erupting, boiling mud.

Days 9-10 - Northern Explorer to Wellington
Wellington

Transferring to Hamilton, we take the Northern Explorer train for a journey through King Country. We view the spectacular scenery from panoramic windows including the peaks of Tongariro National Park, Mount Ruapehu and stunning river gorges. On Day 10 we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Wellington. We drive along pretty Oriental Bay to Mount Victoria for stunning views and see the Parliament Buildings.

Day 11 - To the South Island by ferry
Christchurch

Today we take the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island. On arrival in Picton we board the TranzCoastal train for a scenic journey to Christchurch via Blenheim, the Marlborough wine region and down the Pacific Coast through Kaikoura.

Days 12-13 - Dunedin and the Taieri Gorge
Dunedin

We cross Canterbury Plains through Timaru and Oamaru, stopping at Moeraki to see the mysterious spherical boulders scattered on the beach. We check in at the Scenic Hotel for two nights. On Day 13 your morning is free to explore Dunedin. In the afternoon we follow the trail of 19th century gold miners to the gold fields of Central Otago on the Taieri Gorge Railway in carriages dating back to the 1920s.

Day 14 - Te Anau
Te Anau

Today we travel to Te Anau, nestled by the serene waters of Lake Te Anau, the second longest lake in New Zealand. We cruise across the lake for a guided tour of the Te Anau Caves, with their subterranean limestone caverns and magical glow worm grotto.

Day 15 - Milford Sound
Milford Sound

We travel into the Fiordland National Park for a cruise on stunning Milford Sound. Lush rainforests cling precariously to the fiord's cliffs and the cruise takes us past magnificent waterfalls and out to the Tasman Sea. We enjoy a buffet lunch on board the ship.

Day 16 - To Queenstown
Queenstown

This morning we travel to Queenstown, a popular destination loved by outdoor enthusiasts thanks to the magnificent surrounding scenery. Here we enjoy a ride on the Skyline Gondola, which offers a wonderful panorama.

Days 17-18 - Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu

Today we enjoy a sightseeing tour, driving across Shotover River to historic Arrowtown, the site of a major gold rush in the 1860s and a 'Lord of the Rings' film location. We continue to Gibbston Valley Winery for a tour of the cellars and wine tasting. Day 18 is at leisure, relaxing in Queenstown overlooked by Lake Wakatipu.

Day 19 - Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Joseph Glacier

Travelling past Lake Wanaka, we descend to the Haast River. Continuing through the native rainforest by coach, we pass Fox Glacier before reaching the Franz Josef Glacier. An overnight stay and dinner at the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier or Quality Hotel Elms allows us to view the glacier or to take a helicopter flight to the snowfield (payable locally).

Day 20 - The TranzAlpine
TranzAlpine

We visit Hokitika, the centre for New Zealand jade, before boarding our TranzAlpine train bound for Christchurch, at the township of Arthur's Pass. On arrival we take a guided tour of the city, spending our last night at the Sudima Hotel and enjoying a farewell dinner together.

Days 21-22 - The Journey Home
Flying home

On our final day in New Zealand we visit the International Antarctic Centre, before transferring to the airport for our flight home, which lands in London mid-morning on Day 22.

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure Dates

All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.

Trains
Coastal Pacific
Coastal Pacific

The Coastal Pacific (formerly TranzCoastal) train operates between Picton on the northeastern tip of New Zealand's South Island and the city of Christchurch, approximately 340km (211 miles) to the south.

The line follows the rugged Pacific Island coast against a backdrop of two mountain ranges; namely, the Seaward and Inland Kaikoura Ranges. Along the way, passengers can take advantage of the Coastal Pacific's open viewing carriage and single-class carriages with large windows.

South of Picton, the route passes through Marlborough, arguably New Zealand's best wine growing area, before stretching ahead between the mountains and the sea to Christchurch, known as the most 'English' of New Zealand's cities. The Coastal Pacific train is equipped with a buffet car for the convenience of passengers.

Glenbrook Vintage Railway
Glenbrook Vintage Railway

A steam railway built by mostly volunteer labour, the Glenbrook Vintage Railway is an ongoing project staffed by members of the Railway Enthusiasts Society. We take a return trip in wood-panelled carriages from Glenbrook Station, nearby Auckland.

Northern Explorer
Northern Explorer

Almost spanning New Zealand's North Island in its entirety from the city of Auckland in the north to Wellington in the south, the scenic Northern Explorer train service travels the 681- kilometre North Island Main Trunk Line which passes through five distinct geographical regions. En route, Great Rail Journeys' guests will be treated to spectacular landscapes ranging from rugged coastline to mist-shrouded volcanoes and from dense bush to open farmland.

In its current incarnation, the Northern Explorer has only been in operation since 2012 when it replaced the slower Overlander train. Fully refurbished for passenger comfort and making fewer intermediate stops than its predecessor, the Northern Explorer completes its inter-city journey from north to south in a time of between eleven and twelve hours.

Taieri Gorge Railway
Taieri Gorge Railway

Dunedin's Taieri Gorge Railway follows the trail of 19th century gold miners to the gold fields of Central Otago. We spend a fully commentated journey crossing wrought iron viaducts and passing through hand-carved tunnels in carriages dating back to the 1920s. Refreshments are provided on the train and there are opportunities for photographic stops.

TranzAlpine
TranzAlpine

Running once a day, the TranzAlpine is arguably the most scenic railway journey in New Zealand. The route crosses the width of the South Island from Arthur's Pass on the west coast to Christchurch on the east. The journey takes us across the rich grazing farmland of the Canterbury Plain, through the Waimakiriri River Gorge, and over the spectacular mountains of the Southern Alps.

On-board, passengers can take advantage of a buffet car, an open viewing carriage, and single-class carriages with large windows.

Hotels
Grand Millennium Auckland, Auckland
Grand Millennium Auckland

With an excellent location near the centre of Auckland, minutes away from the harbour and Queen Street, there are few better places for exploring this fine city than the 4-Star Grand Millennium Auckland. This charming hotel offers two restaurants and a modern lounge-bar. The well-designed rooms provide complimentary WiFi, a television and tea & coffee making facilities.

Scenic Hotel Dunedin City, Dunedin
Scenic Hotel Dunedin City, Dunedin

The 4-Star Scenic Hotel Dunedin City is centrally located, close to shops, parks and other attractions. The hotel's facilities include a restaurant and bar and gym. All rooms include television, minibar, tea and coffee making facilities and hairdryer.

Southern Cross Hotel, Dunedin
Southern Cross Hotel, Dunedin

This traditional hotel was built in 1883. It enjoys a central location, a gymnasium with sun bed, two restaurants, cocktail bar and casino. Room facilities include a minibar, hairdryer, tea/coffee making facilities and television.

Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge, Paihia
Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge, Paihia

The Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge in Paihia enjoys a wonderful location in the Bay of Islands, with stunning views over the ocean. The hotel benefits from a restaurant, cocktail bar, outdoor swimming pool, indoor hot tub, a fully-equipped gym, games room and complimentary bicycles. All rooms are air conditioned and come with a telephone, satellite television, refrigerator and tea and coffee making facilities.

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua, Rotorua
Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua, Rotorua

Beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Rotorua, the Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua is within walking distance of the city centre and attractions such as the Rotorua Museum and Government Garden. The hotel has a restaurant, bar and a gift shop. Leisure facilities include a geothermally heated open-air swimming pool, three spa pools plus a selection of massages and therapies area available (pay locally). The comfortable rooms feature a telephone, television, tea and coffee making facilities and a hairdryer.

Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau
Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau

The Distinction Luxmore Hotel is located in the centre of Te Anau, just a short stroll from the shores of the lake. The hotel has a carver restaurant, a buffet restaurant, café, bar and lounge. The hotel also has a fitness centre and offers free Wi-Fi internet access in the hotel bar.

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington
James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington

Situated at the heart of Wellington's retail district is the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, spa and gym. Rooms are equipped with minibar, iron, tea/coffee making facilities, air conditioning and television.

What's included

An escorted experience and all travel arrangements

Comfortable accommodation in your destination

Delicious meals included

Fantastic rail experiences

 

Upgrades

We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!

Flight upgrades
Flight upgrades

Flight upgrades are available. Please see the information regarding the types of upgrades offered by the various airlines we use in the Add-ons section of 'Things you should know' or call us for details.

London Hotels
London hotels

Spending a night in London before your tour can make such a difference to the first day of your holiday - you can arrive in the capital in good time, relaxed and ready to join your Tour Manager the next morning. You may even want to take in a show on the West End, or dine in one of London's famous restaurants. Perhaps on your return to London, you would like to break your journey with an overnight stay before continuing home.

We are able to book a wide range of hotels in central London or, for our holidays beginning with a flight, at Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester Airport for the night before or after your holiday. The hotels listed below are some of the more popular hotels our customers book in Central London, others are available on request.

Hotel       Room Rate From Price 
The Ambassador Hotel      From £65 per person
Pullman London St Pancras      From £110 per person
Studios2Let, Cartright Gardens  From £55 per person

 

Above prices are approximate, subject to availability, and per room per night based on two people sharing. If you require a quote for single occupancy at any of the hotels please contact us on 01904 734 805. 

UK rail connections
UK train tickets

Buying tickets for UK train services can be a tricky business - there are so many fares to choose from, each with different rules and restrictions. As you are connecting with an international departure, we strongly recommend that you book a fully flexible ticket to ensure that should the departure times for your holiday change, your rail ticket can allow for these changes.

We can book fully-flexible UK rail tickets from your local station to join your holiday whether this be a European holiday from St Pancras or a UK holiday. The prices are competitive and tickets are not restricted to a particular train or time of day, and in most cases offer you a free choice of routes.

For an up to date quote from your local station, please ask one of our Tour Advisors.

This page was printed from www.greatrail.com/au/tours/adventures-in-new-zealand/#NZS19 on 6 December 2019.
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