Our all new North Island spectacular takes place in late March. This not-to-be-missed 14-day tour combines train, coach and ferry, and offers a magnificent combination of sights and experiences.
The tour begins in Wellington where passengers can learn more about the multi-award winning design studio at Weta Workshop.
Following a train journey north, spend three nights at the timelessly elegant Chateau Tongariro in the heart of the Tongariro National Park.
Experience the unique and isolated landscape of New Zealand railway history with the Forgotten World five tunnels rail adventure.
Spend three nights in the Skycity Hotel in Auckland.
Explore the scenic Waiheke Island, enjoy a local lunch and sample world-class wines.
Indulge in a high tea experience at the iconic Zealong Tea Estate.
Our comprehensive itinerary also includes visiting Te Papa, Hobbiton, Te Puia Geothermal Valley, Stratosphere Restaurant in Rotorua and an Art Deco tour in Napier.
Seats on this tour will sell quickly - our advice is to lodge your deposit and booking as soon as you’ve made your decision to join us.
Book before 1 November and receive a luxury travel kit from The Aromatherapy Company valued at over $130!
Day 1 - Friday, 29 March: Wellington - Meet and greet
Our tour group can check in from 2pm at the Novotel Hotel Wellington where you meet your guides and fellow travellers.
Overnight at Novotel Hotel - Dinner
Day 2 - Saturday, 30 March: Wellington excursions
Our first morning begins with a private tour of Parliament before time on your own at Te Papa Tongarewa – Museum of NZ. Lunch are your own arrangements.
In the afternoon we travel to Miramar to embark on a journey from Middle-earth to Tracy Island and beyond as you explore 20 years of award-winning creativity! The Weta Workshop Experience will take you on a guided tour, where you’ll learn about the creative processes behind the crafting of props and costumes. Also included, is a screening of a behind the scenes documentary.
To finish off the day join locals and visitors alike in an historic trip on the Wellington Cable Car. It offers a charming escape from the busy city streets to the tree lined walkways of the Botanic Gardens. For the more energetic, there is an option to visit the Carter Observatory and Planetarium (a short walk further up the hill).
Overnight at Novotel Hotel - Breakfast, dinner
Day 3 - Sunday, 31 March: Wellington to National Park (train) and Whakapapa Village (coach)
We start our train journey north, departing at 7:55am. The Northern Explorer journeys on ‘the main trunk line’, where you can take in scenic and historic points along the way. There are brief stops at Paraparaumu, Palmerston North and Ohakune before we reach National Park with an expected arrival time of 1:15pm.
Our coaches transfer us to Whakapapa Village. If weather permits there are a range of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in the stunning surrounds of Tongariro National Park.
Optional guided walks (6km) have been arranged for the afternoon, or you can choose to sit and relax in the luxurious surroundings of the Chateau Tongariro.
Overnight at The Chateau Tongariro - Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 4 - Monday, 1 April: Whakapapa excursions
In the morning we travel by coach to Waiouru via Ohakune and visit the National Army Museum to view a unique collection of military exhibits, memorabilia and public research material. A place where families can seek out and relate to their military connections.
Honour the sacrifices, learn the campaigns, be inspired by the stories of courage, loyalty and comradeship.
Lunch is included. In the afternoon we travel back to Whakapapa via the Desert Road and Rangipo. Afternoon at leisure.
Overnight at The Chateau Tongariro - Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 5 - Tuesday, 2 April: Whakapapa excursions
Today we travel to Taumaranui “on the main trunk line” where we embark on a Forgotten World Adventure. There are no age or physical restrictions on these tours. Experience the first 16km of the Forgotten World Railway. Travel through five tunnels including the longest tunnel (1.5km) on the line, enjoy a Ploughman's lunch at Matiere before returning on the rails back through the tunnels (bonus!) to the start point.
We then adjourn to Laurens Lavender farm for afternoon tea before returning to Whakapapa. The more adventurous may like an optional 40km return jet boat adventure while the group is having afternoon tea, enjoying the beautiful scenery and short fun rapids.
Overnight at The Chateau Tongariro - Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner
Day 6 - Wednesday, 3 April: Whakapapa (coach) to National Park and Auckland (train)
We depart the Chateau for a morning visit to Turangi where we visit the National Trout hatchery and the Volcanic Centre that brings the explosive past and present volcanic and geothermal features of this area to life.
With a 1:15pm departure we rejoin our train to Auckland. Highlights of this journey include the Raurimu spiral, spectacular rail viaducts and rural scenery. There are brief stops in Otorohanga (the Kiwiana capital of New Zealand), Hamilton, and Papakura before we arrive in Auckland, where we transfer to the SkyCity Hotel for a late dinner.
Overnight at SkyCity Hotel Auckland - Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner
Day 7 - Thursday, 4 April: Auckland excursions
Today you can use the Auckland Explorer Hop on Hop off 24 hr pass to make your way around Auckland by coach departing every 20 mins. We’ve included admission to Kelly Tarltons where you can see the world’s largest sub-Antarctic penguin colony display, the world’s biggest species of stingray and New Zealand’s largest collection of sharks.
As well you have entry to the SkyTower. View the city from 220 metres high above street level, enjoy the panoramic 360˚ views up to 80 kilometres in every direction, and spot key landmarks, volcanoes and other historical locations within the greater Auckland area.
The 24hr pass routes includes stops at Auckland Museum, Auckland Zoo, MOTAT, Parnell, Eden Park, Kelly Tarltons, Sky Tower and much more. Also included in the 24hr pass are ferry transfers to Devonport.
Overnight at SkyCity Hotel Auckland - Breakfast, dinner
Day 8 - Friday, 5 April: Auckland excursions
Today we depart at 11:30am and travel by Fullers ferry to Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island. We travel the island by coach, visit a number of wineries, taste wine and sample olive oils before indulging in a winery lunch. We catch the ferry back to Auckland at 5:30pm.
Overnight at SkyCity Hotel Auckland - Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 9 - Saturday, 6 April: Auckland to Hamilton (coach)
We leave Auckland and head to Hamilton where we visit the Zealong Tea Estate - a unique opportunity to experience the world’s purest tea in New Zealand's only commercial tea plantation. In beautiful surroundings we enjoy a glamorous late morning ‘High Tea’.
In the afternoon we explore Hamilton’s premier themed gardens, where there is something for everyone.
Overnight at Distinction Hamilton - Breakfast, high tea, dinner
Day 10 - Sunday, 7 April: Hamilton to Rotorua (coach)
We travel by coach to the unique and exciting Hobbiton Movie Set location in Matamata. This experience includes a guided tour through the village and famous film sets, and concludes with specially brewed beverages in the Middle-earth Green Dragon bar. Lunch is served onsite before we tour.
In the afternoon we travel through to Rotorua, where you may choose to unwind with a hot mineral bath or Spa therapy at the Polynesian spa – widely acclaimed for the therapeutic benefits of the water. Alternatively a short excursion by coach will be offered to the grand Californian Coast Redwood Forest.
Overnight at Distinction Rotorua - Breakfast, Lunch, dinner
Day 11 - Monday, 8 April: Rotorua excursions
Today we will have the opportunity to experience geothermal attractions at Te Puia, the centre for Maori culture and geothermal wonders. Te Puia houses the NZ Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, as well as significant examples of Maori architecture.
Afternoon will be at your leisure, with time to explore historic, cultural and natural wonders of Rotorua. Optional tours to WingsSpan National Bird of Prey Centre or Rainbow Springs will also be offered.
In the evening we will travel by gondola to dine amidst the stars at the Skyline Restaurant, and enjoy the panoramic views of Lake Rotorua from Mount Ngongotaha.
Overnight at Distinction Rotorua - Breakfast, dinner
Day 12 - Tuesday, 9 April: Rotorua to Napier (coach)
We travel from Rotorua to Taupo, with a stop at the Lava Glass gallery and café for morning tea.
Lava Glass has a magnificent sculpture garden featuring more than 600 glass art sculptures and some of the largest pieces of glass blown in New Zealand. Take a stroll through an acre of manicured grounds, around ponds, past bird-attracting native trees, and fields of magical glass flowers.
Our next stop is the famous Huka falls, a thundering 11-metre high waterfall and the most visited and photographed natural attraction in New Zealand.
There is an opportunity for some time on your own in Taupo before we depart for the final coach section through to Napier.
Overnight Scenic Hotel Te Pania - Breakfast, morning tea, dinner
Day 13 - Wednesday, 10 April: Napier excursions
We start our day in Napier with an Art Deco city tour. The original town of Napier was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1931 and was completely rebuilt in the contemporary style of ’Art Deco’. The city is now recognised as the most complete Art Deco city in the world. A 20 minute earthquake movie is also included.
Lunch own arrangements.
You have the opportunity to shop and browse at leisure in the afternoon, or embark on one of two tours; travel by coach to the famed Mission Winery Estate for wine and cheese tasting or travel by tractor along the beach to the Gannet colony. There is a late-afternoon return to Napier to relax or continue your exploration of Napier.
We will host a ‘farewell dinner’ in the beautiful ‘Art Deco’ Masonic Hotel.
Overnight Scenic Hotel Te Pania - Breakfast, lunch, ‘Art Deco’ themed farewell dinner
Day 14 - Thursday, 11 April: Napier to Wellington (train)
Our last day … We rejoin our train for the journey south to Wellington via the spectacular coastlines, wide rural valleys and small towns of the Wairarapa.
Our final destination – back where we began, at the Wellington Railway Station.
Coaches transport us to the airport for connecting flights. Travellers may choose to stay an extra night (at your expense).
Breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon teas
*Please note the itinerary is subject to change
Twin share - $5,999 pp inc GST
Single Supplement - $6,499 pp inc GST
Please note : These prices do not include airfares or travel costs between your location and the start and finish points.
This includes payment by internet transfer or payment at any BNZ branch.
Payee: Stuff LTD
Account number: 02-0500-0700089-12
Reference number: Your last name plus 159
You can send us a cheque made out to : Stuff LTD
Addressed to :
Readers' Rail Tour
PO Box 3740
You can also pay any outstanding balances by credit card. Simply call us on 0800 0800 99 during business hours, and we’ll process the payment over the phone. 3.5% fee applies.
"I certainly intend to do another Rail Tour in 2018 - probably the South Island one as I missed that one this year. I loved the two that I did and have made some great friends as well as seeing new places and having some wonderful memorable experiences. Thanks to you and your team for your superb organisation of the Rail Tours - they've been highlights of my 2017!"
"I want to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed the Rail tour. Many thanks to all tour guides, drivers and rail staff – everyone helped make the tour run smoothly, and comfortably for us."