Tour Date: 13 to 27 November 2024Location: New Zealand

New Zealand has enjoyed a rail renaissance in recent years with large investments being  made into new rolling stock, upgraded track  and better on-board services. This has helped  elevate it to a rail travel Mecca. There are vibrant heritage trains and vintage transport operations all over this great country and  so, you have the ideal destination for rail and culture travelling.

On this all-encompassing south island adventure, you’ll be treated to some of the  best rail, road, and water journeys to be  had anywhere in the world, and you can be assured that the destinations at the end of the line are as superb as the journey getting there! There are highlights galore on this classic South Island adventure, Weka Pass will be very special outings as will our time at the historic Ferrymead Heritage Park just south of Christchurch. It was here in 1863 that a short section of broad-gauge track was opened to the public and the story of one of the world’s most interesting railway systems began.

Starting in Wellington, the nation’s capital, your journey will be led by expert Tour Leader Allan Boyer, an unashamed proud Kiwi native.  Under his guidance and first-hand knowledge,, you’ll experience the unrivalled natural beauty, surreal scenery, living museums, and vibrant, colourful cities that make up New Zealand’s Apart from magnificent rail journeys, you’ll explore the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, cruise Doubtful Sound through the Fiordland National Park, enjoy Queenstown from the lake, and a cruise on Lake Wakatipu, all interspersed with great food, culture and heritage, and wonderful people.  This rail adventure full of amazing scenery from seascapes to rugged mountains, unique flora and fauna, amazing food and wine, and a culture dating back 1,000 years has all the ingredients for an unsurpassed adventure in the Land of the Long White Cloud. This tour is being run by our friends at Rail Adventures Australia.

Not only will you experience the best train trips that your destination has to offer, but you’ll also explore the surrounding areas in comfort and style with our private luxury coaches. Our knowledgeable guides will lead you on walking tours, and you will take other suitable and exciting travel options to make your exploration easy and enjoyable.

The Coastal Pacific travels along the rugged Kaikoura Coast.

The TranzAlpine traverses the Staircase Gorge, Waimakariri River, Arthur’s Pass and the depths of the Otira Tunnel, (New Zealand’s longest), one of the great railway journeys of the world.

Heritage Railways offer an eclectic mix of experiences and exhibits, including Weka Pass, Pleasant Point Railway and the Kingston Flyer.

As this tour is being sold in Australia and, by us, in the UK, it is likely to sell out so book quickly to secure your place.

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • Enjoy a cruise on Queen Charlotte Sounds and step ashore to explore historical Ship Cove
  • Cross the South Island on the spectacular TranzAlpine Express
  • Recline on the private heritage train up the escarpment on the Weka Pass railway
  • Visit the Plains Railway, home of the operating Rogers K 88 steam loco built in 1877
  • Enjoy a morning in the company of Pleasant Point Railway
  • Visit the only castle in New Zealand with stunning views of Otago Harbour
  • Cruise Doubtful Sound through the Fiordland National Park
  • Enjoy Queenstown from the lake and the land including historic Arrowtown
  • Cruise on Lake Wakatipu on the classic century-old steamship, SS Earnslaw
  • Enjoy great meals, fine accommodation and many wonderful side-trips and sites
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

New Zealand South Map 2024

FLIGHTS

PTG can arrange a full ATOL package with return flights from many UK airports with Qatar via Doha; China Eastern via Shanghi; Singapore Airlines via Singapore or Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong.

Day 1 • Wednesday 13 November (B, D) WELLINGTON

Arrive in Wellington and this evening join Allan and your fellow travellers for a welcome reception, dinner and drinks at the hotel. Our Welcome Drinks are scheduled for 6pm, so we encourage you to arrange your flights to ensure you can join us in time. If you’d like to arrive in New Zealand prior to today, we can easily arrange pre-tour accommodation for you. Overnight: Rydges Hotel, Wellington.

Wellington,Cable,Car,,The,Landmark,Of,New,Zealand.Day 2 • Thursday 14 November (B, L, D) WELLINGTON – BLENHEIM

This morning is a lazy one – sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast or head out and explore a bit of Wellington on foot. Later in the morning, we’ll head to the airport for the short flight across the sounds to Blenheim.

Wine,Estate,Near,Blenheim,,New,Zealand
Vineyard, Blenheim

Upon arrival, we’ll transfer to a local winery for a wine tasting and a light lunch before checking into our hotel, leaving the afternoon free to get your bearings or head out to one of the many attractions, including the Riverside Park just a short walk from our hotel. Named after the Battle of Blenheim (1704), where troops led by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough defeated a combined French and Bavarian force, Blenheim is the most populous town in the region of Marlborough, and the gateway to the wineries of the Wairau Valley. It’s also home to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, which houses filmmaker Peter Jackson’s collection of World War I aircraft, displayed in sets re-creating their flight history, which you’ll be visiting  on Saturday.This evening you’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel with your fellow travellers. Overnight: Scenic Hotel Marlborough, Blenheim

Day 3 • Friday 15 November (B) BLENHEIM

This morning after breakfast we’ll transfer in our private coach to Picton, from where we’ll embark on a cruise up through the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to stop at the historical Ship Cove.

View,Of,Bays,In,Queen,Charlotte,Sound,,Picton,,Marlborough,Region,Named by Captain James Cook in 1770 when his ship The Endeavour anchored here to replenish supplies of food, water and wood, it became a favourite anchorage of Cook’s and he returned here a further four times between 1770 and 1777.  We’ll cruise via Endeavour Inlet to view Furneaux Lodge and Punga Cove Resort before returning to Picton where you’ll have free time to explore this picturesque port town and enjoy lunch at your leisure at one of the many restaurants and cafes.

Picton,Harbour,,New,Zealand
Picton

We’ll return to Blenheim later in the afternoon, where the rest of the day and evening are yours at leisure. There are numerous restaurants walking distance from the hotel, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dinner options. Overnight: Scenic Marlborough, Blenheim.

Day 4 • Saturday 16 November (B,D) BLENHEIM – CHRISTCHURCH

After breakfast and checking out, it’s off to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, a world-class active museum that tells the story of aviation during two world wars, the time in which the most intense period of aviation development took place. Famous for housing Jackson’s personal collection (on permanent loan to the museum), the museum’s collection contains a wide variety of military aircraft from the First and Second World Wars as well as artefacts and personal items belonging to some of the most famous aviators of World War I including some items of Baron Manfred von Richthofen memorabilia. After our museum visit, there will be time in town for a spot of lunch before we venture back on the rails.

Scenic,Train,Ride,Along,Pacific,Ocean,Coast,In,Canterbury,Regoin,The Coastal Pacific train pulls into Blenheim in the early afternoon and will transport us south to Christchurch, gliding breathtakingly close to the Pacific Ocean on a railway where the roaring sea on one side meets enormous bush-clad mountains on the other. The train traverses the stunning Kaikōura Coastline, famous for its marine mammals and whale-watching, and the impressive rail and road reconstruction after the massive earthquake damage of 2016.

We continue along the dramatic coast and then meander through the idyllic Canterbury Plains, and enjoy dinner on board before we arrive in Christchurch. Upon arrival, we’ll transfer directly to our centrally located hotel,  our home for the next four nights. Overnight: Rydges Latimer, Christchurch

Day 5 • Sunday 17 November (B) CHRISTCHURCH

This morning after breakfast we set off to explore the city of Christchurch on a guided tour. Christchurch lost many of its heritage buildings and churches in the devastating earthquakes in 2011 and 2012, and 185 of its citizens. The resilience and tenacity of New Zealanders was on show the very next day as they committed to rebuilding the city, which is now as vibrant as ever. We’ll pay a visit to the innovative Cardboard Cathedral and finish up our tour with a visit to Quake City, an interesting look at the infamous earthquake and its impact on the city. This special exhibition is packed with interesting displays and interactives for all ages. You’ll hear from those who lived through the earthquakes and those who came to help, and learn about the science behind the quakes.  We’ll then head to the interesting town of Lyttelton, a port town with a long history. Christchurch’s first European settlers landed here in 1850 before trekking over the Port Hills to establish their new home and it’s now a vibrant community of nearly 3,000, brimming with bohemian artists, cafés, quirky shops and restaurants. There’s also a wonderful historic steam Tug to explore and you have some free time for lunch before taking a tour to the wonderful Ferrymead Heritage Park where you can go back in time and soak up the atmosphere of this living museum. Ferrymead is located on the formation of New Zealand’s first railway and there are rail displays and trams that run each day to a heritage village where the rail workshops and rolling stock are displayed, along with heritage trolley buses, aircraft, fire engines and other items. To cap off the day, back in town, you’ll  have an excursion on the Heritage Tram that rolls along around the old tram network in the heart of the city.

New,Zealand,,South,Island.,Christchurch,,Canterbury,Region.,Restored,Heritage,TramThe evening is at your leisure. Overnight: Rydges Latimer, Christchurch.

Day 6 • Monday 18 November (B) CHRISTCHURCH – GREYMOUTH – CHRISTCHURCH

This morning after breakfast we board the TranzAlpine train to Greymouth on the West Coast. This is described as one of the great railway journeys of the world, traversing the Staircase Gorge, Waimakariri River, Arthur’s Pass, and the depths of the Otira Tunnel (New Zealand’s 3rd longest, running under the Southern Alps for over 8.5km).

Tranz,Alpine,Train,Approaching,Tunnel, ,Autumn:,Christchurch,To,Greymouth
views from the train.

Tranz,Alpine,Crossing,On,Winter,Morning,Christchurch,To,Greymouth.,This
TranzAlpine view from the train

The town of Greymouth is located at the mouth of the Grey River, on a narrow coastal plain close to the foot of the Southern Alps. In clear weather, Aoraki / Mount Cook can be clearly seen to the south from near the town. You’ll have free time here to explore the town  and enjoy some lunch before returning to Christchurch, arriving in the early evening.  Overnight: Rydges Latimer, Christchurch.

Day 7 • Tuesday 19 November (B, L) CHRISTCHURCH – WEKA PASS – CHRISTCHURCH

Today presents the opportunity to explore the northern region of the Canterbury Plains with an excursion on the charming Weka Pass railway. We visit a winery for lunch and then our trusty coach takes us to the departure point at Glenmark Station. From here our heritage diesel train rolls along the plains and then tackles the one in fifty grade (2%) ascent on a scenic line that was originally built in the 1880s to service the rich agriculture communities of the region.

A,Locomotive,Takes,Tourists,Along,The,Weka,Pass,Railway,Through Our train arrives at Waikari station where you’ll have a short break to look around the village while the train is turned around for the return journey. Back in Christchurch, you have the evening at leisure. Overnight: Rydges Latimer, Christchurch.

Day 8 • Wednesday 20 November (B, L, D) CHRISTCHURCH – DUNEDIN

We bid farewell to Christchurch today. After breakfast and checking out of our hotel, we’ll board our private coach for the journey down the coast to Dunedin. On the way, we’ll pause to visit a couple of heritage towns and some interesting railway museums, including the Plains Railway. The Plains boasts a rare operating Rogers steam locomotive built in the USA in 1887.

Old,Train,Station,In,Oamaru,,New,Zealand
Old Station Oamaru

At the Pleasant Point Railway near Timaru, you will get to ride on their short section of track and enjoy a country-style lunch. A bit further down the coast is the town of Oamaru, the largest town of the Waitaki District and famous for some of the Southern Hemisphere’s most complete Victorian streetscapes and 19th century architecture, including a wonderful collection of charming Whitestone buildings. We’ll arrive in Dunedin in the late afternoon and check in to our centrally located hotel.

Historic,Dunedin,Railway,Station,At,South,Island,Of,New,Zealand.
The impressive railway station in Dunedin.

Dunedin is New Zealand’s largest city by area and perhaps  the most spectacular in terms of divergent landscapes. After freshening up we’ll have dinner at the hotel’s signature restaurant.  Overnight: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross, Dunedin.

Day 9 • Thursday 21 November (B,L) DUNEDIN

This morning after breakfast you’ll enjoy a coach tour of the city, beginning with a visit to the historic Larnach Castle and Gardens.

Larnach,Castle,,Dunedin,,New,Zealand
Larnach Castle and gardens

New Zealand’s only Castle, Lanarch was built in 1871 by William Larnach, a merchant baron and politician, for his beloved first wife Eliza. It took more than 200 workmen three years to build the Castle shell and master European craftsmen spent a further 12 years embellishing the interior. Larnach spared no expense on his dream home, which features the finest materials from around the world. You’ll have time to explore the beautiful gardens, enjoy a guided tour of the castle and enjoy some lunch before heading to Dunedin’s opulent railway station and other landmarks. The Dunedin Railway Station is one of the city’s most prominent architectural landmarks, taking pride of place in the central city. Dating back to 1906, this magnificent Flemish Renaissance-style edifice features white Oamaru limestone facings on black basalt rock, giving it a dramatic air and its characteristic ‘Gingerbread House’ appearance.  Fitted out in the lavish style of the times, the booking hall alone features a mosaic floor of almost 750,000 tiles of Royal Doulton porcelain. The sheer size, grandiose style and rich embellishments of the station earned architect George Troup the nickname of Gingerbread George. The rest of the afternoon and evening are at leisure to explore the charming city on your own. Overnight: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross, Dunedin.

Day 10 • Friday 22 November (B, D) DUNEDIN – TE ANAU

After breakfast and check out, our journey to Te Anau today takes us on an interesting loop of the Southern region of the South Island, stopping at Mandeville near Gore to visit the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre. Housing vintage operational aircraft from the iconic De Havilland Aircraft Factory, this nationally significant museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating New Zealand’s civil aviation heritage featuring the stories of pioneer aviators and their equally colourful machines.  While here, you’ll have the option to fly in one of the heritage aircraft. We’ll continue our journey cross country to the west coast of the island, stopping along the way for some lunch at leisure, arriving at Te Anau late afternoon, when we’ll check-in and enjoy dinner at the hotel. Overnight: Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau.

Day 11 • Saturday 23 November (B, L) TE ANAU – FIORDLAND NP – TE ANAU

Today after breakfast, we’ll embark on a full day excursion through the Fiordland National Park, to the Doubtful Sound Fiord. To get to Doubtful Sound we’ll first cruise across the picturesque Lake Manapouri, followed by a coach trip over Wilmot Pass – New Zealand’s most expensive and majestic road. We’ll pause along the way to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest and view Doubtful Sound glistening below. This isolation makes this fiord a very special place. Doubtful Sound Patea spans a staggering 40 kilometres from the head of the fiord to the Tasman Sea. It is the deepest of New Zealand’s 14 fiords and its immense size leaves all who visit feeling humbled yet uplifted by its powerful physical presence. Doubtful Sound Patea’s English name transpired when Captain James Cook approached the entrance of the fiord during his voyage of 1770. The vast fiord was only just visible from the sea and Cook decided if they ventured into the fiord it would be “doubtful” they would be able to sail back out against the prevailing westerly wind. He named it ‘Doubtful Harbour’ and carried on up the coast. The area was renamed Doubtful Sound  many years later by whalers and sealers.

Doubtful,Sound, ,New,Zealandd
Doubtful Sound

Upon arrival, we’ll board the Patea Explorer for a 3 hour (approximately) cruise on this spectacular pristine fiord – a striking landscape of ancient, glacially-carved valleys. During the cruise, our knowledgeable and friendly skipper will share with you their passion for the region. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch here before heading back to Te Anau for an evening at leisure. Overnight: Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau.

Day 12 • Sunday 24 November (B, D) TE ANAU – QUEENSTOWN

After breakfast and check out, we leave Te Anau and make our journey to our final destination, Queenstown, stopping along the way in Kingston, home of the historic Kingston Flyer. One of New Zealand’s most famous vintage steam trains, it was a passenger express train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department between the 1890s and 1957.

Vintage,Steam,Train,Fetching,WaterIt came back to life a few times and now operates along the 14 km spectacular scenery rail corridor from Kingston to Fairlight Railway Station and back again. We’ll  take a step back in time and ride this historical vintage steam train powered by the Ab795 Steam Locomotive.  Our hotel for the next three nights sits in the heart of Queenstown, enjoying panoramic views over The Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s longest lake.  After time to relax, your dinner will be hosted at the hotel. Overnight: Crowne Plaza, Queenstown.

Day 13 • Monday 25 November (B) QUEENSTOWN

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we set out to explore the Queenstown area with a visit to Arrowtown, a historic gold mining village that has retained around 70 authentic buildings, monuments and features from the gold rush era and was named “the most beautiful small town” in New Zealand in the 2020 Keep New  Zealand Beautiful awards. You’ll have plenty of time to wander the streets, immerse yourself in the history and enjoy lunch at leisure in one of the many delightful local restaurants or cafes. We’ll return  to Queenstown in the early afternoon. The town offers many activities such as jet boating, wine tours, and flights to spectacular Milford  Sound and the Fiordland National Park or you might like to take the gondola to the Skyline Restaurant for mighty alpine and lake views. Let us know if you would like assistance with optional tours. The evening is at leisure. Overnight: Crowne Plaza, Queenstown

Day 14 • Tuesday 26 November (B, L) QUEENSTOWN

We’ll have a lazy morning before heading out for an unforgettable Steamship cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw. Built in 1912 and maintained to its original condition, it is the only coal-fired steamship in operation in the southern hemisphere and the oldest freshwater steamship in the world. She has featured in several movies too! This cruise is described as “undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience Queenstown’s famed scenic beauty”. You can have a drink at the bar, marvel at the stunning nature around you, and go down and have a look at the steam engines operating. On arrival on the distant shore, we’ll stroll the gardens of the Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak before enjoying an amazing BBQ lunch to celebrate this last day of your New Zealand South Island adventure.   This evening we’ll re-group for a light snack and Farewell drinks in the hotel. Overnight: Crowne Plaza, Queenstown.

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Day 15 • Wednesday 27 November: QUEENSTOWN – DEPART

Our tour concludes after breakfast at the hotel and we say goodbye to our fellow travellers and to our Railway Adventure in New Zealand. If you’d like to stay in New Zealand for a bit longer, we can easily arrange posttour accommodation for you. If you have booked the full flights package with PTG this includes a private taxi to the airport for flights back to the UK. A “round the World” flight ticket is an option.

Meet Your Tour Leaders – Allan Boyer

Allan and his wife Patricia operate a small tour company based on the South Island that began in 1988 and leads tours all over New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Allan has managed rail tour groups from the USA for the International Railway Travellers Group to both New Zealand and Australia. In addition, Allan was a Train Manager for Dunedin Railways and as such, managed cruise ships and tour trains into the Taieri Gorge and across the South Island.

WHAT IS INCLUDED

  • 14 nights’ accommodation in comfortable, 3- or
  • 4-star hotels
  • Breakfast daily, 5 Lunches and 6 Dinners
  • Drinks included with welcome and farewell dinners
  • Charter of the Weka Pass and Pleasant Point Railway
  • Luxury chartered coach, with luggage transport
  • throughout the tour
  • Comprehensive sightseeing with expert local guides
  • All excursions and entrance fees to attractions listed in the itinerary

NOT INCLUDED

  • Airport transfers (unless you booked your flights with PTG)
  • Excursions/entrances listed as optional in the itinerary
  • Drinks with meals (except for those provided during the welcome and farewell dinners)
  • Personal expenses such as telephone calls, laundry, and minibar charges and items of a personal nature e.g. telephone, laundry, minibar
  • Travel insurance

Prices (per person) – excludes flights

  • Per person twin/double share: £4,650
  • Single supplement: add £980
  • Deposit: £600 plus any flight costs

Flights

  • Various flight options from around £980 (China Eastern), £1,150 other airlines. In economy and booked early.

*  with flight price confirmed at time of booking

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

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