Rail Journeys

Train tracks traversing braided river valleys and volcanic fields, tunnels cutting through majestic mountains, and 19th Century viaducts spanning landscapes inaccessible by road – welcome aboard New Zealand’s trains!

Imagine sitting back in a purpose-built observation or open-air carriage, taking in magnificent views of steep New Zealand mountains on one side and the never-ending Pacific Ocean on the other as you listen to the soft lullaby of the clattering train! New Zealand rail journeys are not only beautifully romantic and relaxing, but they also showcase parts of New Zealand which simply aren’t visible by road.

KiwiRail Scenic Journey rail trips travel through some of New Zealand’s most  stunning scenery. The Northern Explorer, connecting Auckland and Wellington, is a twelve-hour ride through the heart of the North Island. At the Raurimu Spiral, the train climbs 132 metres in under seven kilometres, an amazing feat of railway engineering! On the TranzAlpine, which traverses the South Island from east to west in four and a half hours, you’ll encounter another engineering highlight; the 73-metre Staircase Viaduct, while the Coastal Pacific service travels from Picton past Kaikoura to Christchurch – a trip that takes just over five hours and carries you across 175 bridges and through 22 tunnels! To make the most of your rail holiday, purchase a Scenic Rail Pass so you can get on and off as you please.

There are plenty of other options for discovering New Zealand rail history. The TaieriGorge Railway takes you from Dunedin into Central Otago’s narrow and exhilarating Taieri Gorge through tunnels and across viaducts dating back to 1879! The Driving Creek Railway in The Coromandel is another highlight – this is New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge mountain railway – while in Waipara’s Weka Pass in Canterbury, you can board a train pulled by an authentic 1909 “Pacific” class locomotive and steam your way through the spectacular rock formations of the pass.