Our South Island spectacular takes place in October and this not-to-be-missed 14-day tour combines rail, coach, ferry and cruise, and offers a perfect combination of sights and experiences.
Explore the picturesque Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, surrounded by a breathtaking environment of glaciers, terminal lakes, turbulent rivers and Australasia's tallest peak the mighty Aoraki Mt Cook soaring above at 3,724 metres. Marvel at the majestic snow capped Southern Alps and Tasman Sea, enjoy a cruise through Doubtful Sound, venture through the historic gold-mining village of Arrowtown and much more.
Passengers will travel through the magnificent Taieri Gorge to the Central Otago plateau from the comfort of the plush refurbished Silver Fern railcar. Later we venture aboard the TranzAlpine and take in the beauty of the river gorge and breathtaking alpine views on the Midland rail line to the West Coast.
Our jam-packed itinerary also includes a stroll through the rainforest along the West Coast treetop walkway, visit the National WOW museum and leisurely days spent in beautiful Wanaka, Queenstown and Dunedin. And if you’ve ever wanted to experience the majestic scenery of New Zealand’s glacier country, then a trip to Fox Glacier will definitely be one to tick off your bucket list.
Day 1 - Friday 5 October : Wellington (Meet and greet) - tour start
Meet your guides Dale Coulter and Philip MacDonald on arrival at your hotel. We will gather for an evening meal for group introductions and a briefing on the tour. If you arrive early into Wellington, take the chance to visit Te Papa, and the excellent collections of historic and cultural artifacts and displays in museums and government buildings.
Day 2 - Saturday 6 October : Wellington - Picton - Blenheim - Nelson (Ferry, train and coach)
After breakfast we will board the Interislander to cruise across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton. The travel from Picton to Blenheim will be aboard the restored Passchendaele steam train where we will be met by our coaches for the scenic drive through to Nelson
Day 3 - Sunday 7 October : Nelson
Our day in Nelson will include a visit to the the World of Wearable Arts Museum to learn about fashion design and innovation. This visit will be paired with the Nelson Classic Car Collection, so that all interests are covered! An afternoon of leisure in Nelson City or a sightseeing trip in our coaches will complete the day.
Day 4 - Monday 8 October : Nelson to Greymouth (Coach)
We will travel from Nelson through the very scenic Buller Gorge road, with a lunch-stop and visit to the coal-mining museum in Westport. Here we will learn about the industry and the hardships of living for families during the early days of this very important local industry. The trip will continue through to Greymouth along the rugged western Coast with a stop at the famous Punakaiki Reserve to explore the blow-holes and pancake rocks.
Day 5 - Tuesday 9 October : Greymouth to Christchurch (TranzAlpine)
The morning will be spent visiting the Mahinapua treetop walkway where we will stroll through the serene West Coast rainforest canopy and take in views of the majestic snow capped Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. As an alternative, a visit to vibrant Hokitika township can be made. Following lunch we will travel back to Greymouth to meet the TranzAlpine train for the trip to Christchurch. The TranzAlpine travels from rural West Coast, through the rugged Southern Alps via the Otira tunnel and Arthurs Pass National Park, the Waimakariri Gorge and across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch city.
Day 6 - Wednesday 10 October : Christchurch
Christchurch - the garden city. The morning excursion will include a visit to the International Antarctic Centre, where you will learn the history of Antarctic exploration, the very unique fauna of the southern continent (including live penguins), experience the extreme climate, what is needed to live there and the protection enacted for its preservation. After lunch we will offer an optional coach tour of the Port Hills, a visit to the Air Force Museum at Wigram or an afternoon on your own in Christchurch city to visit the Canterbury Museum, city environs and the Botanical Gardens.
Day 7 - Thursday 11 October : Christchurch - Oamaru - Moeraki - Dunedin - (train)
All aboard the heritage Silver Fern Railcar to travel from Christchurch to Dunedin. Our first stop will be the white-stone Victorian precinct in Oamaru. This precinct has a number of restored Oamaru stone heritage buildings that house museums, artisan shops and cafes. This will be our lunch stop before continuing onto Moeraki to view the famous round boulders on the beach. From Moeraki we travel onto Dunedin via the scenic coastal Waitati railway line.
Day 8 - Friday 12 October : Dunedin
Our Dunedin excursion takes in the breathtaking views from the heritage Taieri Gorge Railway. We travel from Dunedin to Pukerangi, and return in the early afternoon. There will be an optional afternoon city tour aboard our coaches, or visit to Olveston House. Alternatively, take the time to explore the vibrant university city of Dunedin on your own.
Day 9 - Saturday 13 October : Dunedin - Balclutha - Te Anau (Coach and train)
We will continue our travel on the Silver Fern Railcar between Dunedin and Balclutha. On arrival at Balclutha we transfer to our coaches for the scenic trip through to Te Anau. This route will be though rolling pastoral farmlands, South Otago landscapes and into the mountainous region of Fiordland National Park for the 2 nights stay in Te Anau. There is an optional ‘Glow-worm Cave’ excursion in the afternoon, or explore the township of Te Anau with its many sights, history and local attractions.
Day 10 - Sunday 14 October : Te Anau
Today we will travel to the heart of Fiordland National Park and take in the beauty and vastness of remote Doubtful Sound on our Wilderness Cruise through to the Tasman Sea. The excursion will start with a cruise across Lake Manapouri, followed by a coach trip over the epic Wilmot Pass through Fiordland rainforest and into the Sound. Our cruise on the sound will include wildlife viewing including dolphins, fur seals and even occasionally penguins,with a commentary by a knowledgeable onboard nature guide. This is a full day excursion and includes lunch on board the excursion.
Day 11 - Monday 15 October : Te Anau - Queenstown - Wanaka (Coach)
Our coach will take us through spectacular Otago landscapes to overnight at Wanaka. Otago is rich in gold-mining history and more recently tourism based on spectacular scenery and adventure tourism. We will lunch at the iconic Stratosfare Restaurant, travelling there by gondola. On continuing our trip, we will stop at Arrowtown to explore the history of the town, and then travel on to Wanaka for our overnight stay.
Day 12 - Tuesday 16 October : Wanaka to Aoraki Mt Cook (Coach)
The coach trip from Wanaka to the Hermitage will be through north Otago landscapes to the tussock covered Lindis Pass and then out onto the McKenzie Basin. We will have a chance to view and visit the network of canals that have been built to support the hydroelectric stations in this area. A highlight will be a visit and tour of a salmon farm situated in one of the canals, and the opportunity to taste the salmon that are reared for export and local markets. Our coach will take us to the iconic Hermitage Hotel situated in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park for 2 nights stay.
Day 13 - Wednesday 17 October : Aoraki Mt Cook
Today is a day of leisure in Mount Cook / Aoraki National Park. There are opportunities to take a range of local tours and walks to learn about the history, geology, flora and fauna and mountaineering in the National Park. This could include glacier flights and landings, guided walks, rafting trips and glacier lake boat adventures. The day could also be a day of relaxation in the ambience of the Hermitage Hotel, with stunning alpine vistas. The National Park and stay at the Hermitage hotel will be a tour highlight.
Day 14 - Thursday 18 October : Aoraki Mt Cook to Christchurch (Coach) - tour end
The final day of our tour will be the return coach trip to Christchurch. On the way we will stop at the Mt. John Observatory in Tekapo, - an observatory that is situated in one of the clearest air and light-free areas in the world. We will also visit Barkers Fruit Juice near Geraldine and taste the range of seasonal juices that are manufactured and sold form here. The tour will finish with a drive across the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch, were we will bid you farewell until your next trip with us.
*Please note the itinerary is subject to change
Twin share - $5895 pp incl GST
Single Supplement - $6295 pp incl 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 993
You can send us a cheque made out to : Stuff LTD
Addressed to :
Readers' Rail Tour
PO Box 90741
Victoria Street West
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."