Join us this Autumn as we explore our own backyard, venturing North to experience some of New Zealand’s hidden gems that would otherwise be overlooked. The 14-day tour presented by The Sunday Star-Times combines both rail travel and coach, and offers a perfect combination of sights and experiences - explore iconic gardens and world famous tea estates, vineyards, museums of local history and much much more.

We fly to Wellington spending our first night there, and then board our chartered train  to Wanganui, National Park and Hamilton and then later on journey from Napier, Palmerston North and then back to Wellington via the spectacular Wairarapa.

Some of the day-to-day activities you can look forward to include exploring the rich Art Deco history of Napier, Rail Cruising from the Mamaku Railway Station to Tarukenga Railway Station, enjoying lunch on Lake Rotorua aboard the Lakeland Queen as well as banquet feast in the magical Hobbiton.  On rail we enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the Raurimu Spiral, while on coach we navigate through the Waioeka Gorge and also stop to see the longest wharf in the country when visiting the stunning Tolaga Bay.

Accommodation is in comfortable hotels prepared to meet our travellers’ needs. One such stopover includes the timelessly elegant Chateau Tongariro in the heart of the Tongariro National Park.

Whether you’re joining as a pair or looking to come along and meet like-minded travelers who appreciate the beauty of the country we live in, this tour will leave you with a lifetime of memories and friends.


Day 1 - May 14 : Wellington to Whanganui (Train)

Our tour group will meet at Trax Bar & Café at Wellington Railway Station for morning tea before boarding our exclusive charter train to Whanganui, departing at 11 am. We will journey on ‘the main trunk line’ with stops along the way to Palmerston North, then onto Whanganui with an expected arrival time in the late afternoon.

Overnight at Kingsgate Hotel Whanganui and Collegiate Motor Inn.

Lunch, morning and afternoon tea, dinner

Day 2 -  May 15 : Whanganui

The days excursions start with a 213 m walk along the pedestrian tunnel leading to the Durie Hill underground elevator and climb up the 33.5 m War Memorial Tower which affords spectacular views of Whanganui. Coaches meet us for transport to the ‘Waimarie’, a restored historical paddle steamer, for a 2 hour lunch cruise on the Whanganui River.

In the afternoon we will explore Virginia Lake, - Whanganui’s premier  park.  Attractions at the site include the woodland walk around the lake, Higginbottom Fountain, aviary and the Winter Gardens.

Overnight at Kingsgate Hotel Whanganui  and Collegiate Motor Inn.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3 -  Wednesday 16 May  : Whanganui to National Park Station (train) and Whakapapa Village (coach)

We resume our train journey north towards National Park, with stops at scenic and historic points and towns along the way. The lunch stop will be at the Waiouru Army Museum followed by a guided tour. We will then continue to National Park Station and a bus transfer to Chateau Tongariro located in Whakapapa Village.

Overnight at Chateau Tongariro.

Breakfast, morning tea, lunch, dinner.

Day 4 – Thursday 17 May: Whakapapa Village

A day of leisure in Whakapapa Village and the luxurious surroundings of Chateau Tongariro.

If weather permits there are a range of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in the stunning surrounds of Tongariro National Park. 

Lunch own arrangements in Whakapapa Village. 

Overnight at Chateau Tongariro.

Breakfast, dinner

Day 5 – Friday 18 May : Whakapapa Village to National Park Station (coach) and Hamilton (train)

We re-join our train for an early departure to Hamilton. Highlights of this journey include the Raurimu spiral, spectacular rail viaducts and rural scenery. Lunch on your own in Otorohanga, - the Kiwiana capital of New Zealand. On arrival in Hamilton, we travel by coach to the unique and exciting Hobbiton Movie Set location. This experience includes a guided tour through the Hobbit village and famous film sets, and concludes with specially brewed beverages and a buffet banquet in The Middle-earth ‘Green Dragon’ Inn. 

Lunch own arrangements in Otorohanga

Overnight at Distinction Hamilton.

Breakfast, morning and afternoon tea, dinner.

Day 6 - Saturday 19 May : Hamilton to Rotorua (coach)

In the morning we will visit the Zealong Tea Estate - a unique opportunity to experience the world’s finest tea in New Zealand's only commercial tea plantation. In beautiful surroundings we will enjoy a glamorous late morning ‘High Tea’.

Our coaches will then transport us from Hamilton to Rotorua. In the afternoon we will embark on a unique ‘rail cruising’ excursion - the ultimate way to experience a refurbished rail-line with a trip from the Mamaku Railway Station passing through the Dansey Scenic Reserve.

Dinner will include traditional Maori hangi foods, combined with a cultural concert.

Overnight at Millennium Hotel Rotorua.

Breakfast, High tea, hangi dinner.

Day 7 -  Sunday 20 May : Rotorua

Today we will have the opportunity to experience geothermal attractions at Te Puia, the premier center for showcasing Maori culture and Rotorua’s geothermal wonders. Te Puia houses the NZ Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, as well as significant displays depicting Maori history, traditions, arts, crafts and architecture.  The afternoon will provide an opportunity for a leisurely walk through the famous giant redwoods in the Whakarewarewa Forest.  Morning and late afternoon can also be at your leisure, with time to explore the historic, cultural and natural wonders of Rotorua.

Lunch own arrangements in Rotorua.

Overnight at Millennium Hotel Rotorua.

Breakfast, dinner.

Day 8 – Monday 21 May : Rotorua

Set amongst the beautiful forests of Rotorua, this tour provides an opportunity to get close up to the wonderful birds, bugs and beasts that call NZ home. Our tour includes a free flight bird show, aviaries, trout and eel pools, reptile enclosures and a kiwi house.

In the evening we will travel by gondola to dine amidst the stars at Skyline Restaurant, and enjoy the panoramic views of Lake Rotorua from Mount Ngongotaha.

On our way back to the hotel there is an opportunity for re-entry to Rainbow Springs to view kiwi in a nocturnal enclosure.

Lunch own arrangements in Rotorua.

Overnight at Millennium Hotel Rotorua.

Breakfast, dinner

Day 9 – Tuesday 22 May : Rotorua to Gisborne (coach)

After leaving Rotorua we travel to the east-coast city of Gisborne, with a stop at Whakatane for lunch. This very scenic drive will cross the Bay of Plenty horticultural and coastal regions and through the hill country of the Waioweka Gorge

Lunch own arrangements in Whakatane.

Overnight at Captain Cook, White Heron and Teal Motor Lodges.

Breakfast, dinner.

Day 10 – Wednesday 23 May : Gisborne

Our coaches will take us on a scenic day-trip to Eastwood Hill Arboretum, - the National Arboretum of New Zealand. Because we are visiting during Autumn months, we will be viewing the arboretum at its most colorful. We will enjoy lunch at the arboretum before departing for the beautiful East Coast region of Tolaga Bay, with a visit to the famous 660 m long wharf. 

Overnight at Captain Cook, White Heron and Teal Motor Lodges.

Breakfast, Lunch, dinner

Day 11 – Thursday 24 May : Gisborne to Napier (coach)

We depart Gisborne for Napier, with an Art Deco city tour in the afternoon. 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.

Lunch own arrangements in Napier.

Overnight Quest and ExpressOtel  Hotels.

Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 12 – Friday 25 May : Napier

Today will start with a morning opportunity to shop and browse at leisure in Napier before travelling by coach to our luncheon at the famed Mission Winery Estate. There is a mid-afternoon return to Napier to relax or continue your exploration of Napier and Hawkes Bay.

We will host a themed ‘farewell dinner’ in the beautiful ‘Art Deco’ Masonic Hotel.

Overnight Scenic Hotel Te Pania.

Breakfast, Lunch, ‘Art Deco’ themed farewell dinner.

 Day 13 – Saturday 26 May : Napier to Wellington (train)

Our last day … We re-join 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 from Platform 9 at the Wellington Railway Station to the airport for connecting flights. Travellers may choose to stay an extra night (at their expense) and take in the attractions of Wellington.

Breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon teas.


*Please note the Itinerary is subject to change


Twin share - $5699 incl GST
Single Supplement - $6199 incl GST

Please note : These prices do not include airfares or travel costs between your location and the start and finish points. If required House of Travel can organise a travel package, or you may choose to organise this yourself, if required. Do this early as travel and accommodation options may be limited closer to the tour departure.

Payment Details

Direct Deposit:

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 300

Cheque Payment:

You can send us a cheque made out to : Stuff LTD

Addressed to :

Readers' Rail Tour
Attention: Daniel Towers
PO Box 90741
Victoria Street West
Auckland 1010

Credit Card:

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.


"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."

— L.K.

"We both thoroughly enjoyed all of our holiday. Over the years we have travelled quite a lot but we still were able to visit places we had never been to before. It took some convincing our friends that we had actually been on a train and they were quite envious. We are looking forward to hearing of more DomPost tours."

— J.A.