Our South Island tour - presented by The Dominion Post - is now fully booked. 

However, if you wish to be added to our waiting list, we will contact you if an opening becomes available. 

Call 0800 0800 99 or email enquiries@readersrailtours.co.nz 

Our all new South Island spectacular takes place in October.  This not-to-be-missed 14-day tour combines train, coach and ferry, and offers a magnificent combination of sights and experiences.

Passengers will travel across Cook Strait and and through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds.

Later we venture aboard the TranzAlpine and take in the breathtaking alpine views onboard the Midland rail line from the Greymouth to Christchurch, including the beauty of the Waimakariri River gorge and the Canterbury plains.

Ride a heritage train through the Taieri Gorge from Dunedin to Pukerangi on the Central Otago plateau.

Explore the picturesque Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, surrounded by the breathtaking environment of glaciers, terminal moraine, turbulent rivers and New Zealand’s tallest peak, the mighty Aoraki Mt Cook.

Our comprehensive itinerary also includes visiting the National Wearable Arts museum, a walk through the rainforest at the West Coast treetop walkway, a visit to the International Antarctic centre and leisurely afternoons spent in beautiful Dunedin and Arrowtown, as well as a full day in Aoraki Mt Cook.


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.

Overnight at Park Hotel - Dinner

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

Overnight at Rutherford Hotel - Breakfast and dinner

Day 3 -  Sunday 7 October : Nelson

Our day in Nelson will include a visit to 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 to Mapua in our coaches will complete the day.

Overnight Rutherford Hotel - Breakfast and dinner

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.

Overnight Ashley and Recreational Hotel - Breakfast and dinner

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 the 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.

Overnight Commodore Hotel - Breakfast and dinner

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 optional visits to the Air Force Museum at Wigram or an afternoon on your own in Christchurch city to visit the Canterbury Museum, Cathedral Square and the Botanical Gardens.

Overnight Commodore Hotel - Breakfast and dinner

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.

Overnight Scenic Southern Cross Hotel - Breakfast and dinner

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.

Overnight Scenic Southern Cross Hotel - Breakfast and dinner

Day 9 - Saturday 13 October : Dunedin - Balclutha - Te Anau (Coach and train)

We will continue our travel by coach for the scenic trip between Dunedin and Te Anau. This route will be though rolling pastoral farmlands, South Otago landscapes and into the mountainous region of Fiordland National Park for the two nights stay in Te Anau. Lunch at the Mandeville Aerodrome (Croydon Aircraft company) which also offers a museum, an insight into aircraft restoration and optional flights.

There is time in the late afternoon/evening to explore the township of Te Anau with its many sights, history and local attractions.

Overnight Distinction Te Anau - Breakfast and dinner

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.

Overnight Distinction Te Anau - Breakfast, lunch and dinner

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 Skyline 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.

Overnight Edgewater Resort - Breakfast and dinner

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.

Overnight Hermitage Hotel - Breakfast and dinner

Day 13 - Wednesday 17 October : Aoraki Mt Cook

Today is a day of leisure in Aoraki Mount Cook 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.

Overnight Hermitage Hotel - Breakfast and dinner

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 Lake Pukaki for our farewell view of Aoraki Mt Cook, visit Barkers in Geraldine and taste the range of seasonal products that are manufactured and sold from there. The tour will finish with a drive across the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch on the inland scenic road, where we will bid you farewell until your next trip with us.



*Please note the itinerary is subject to change

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"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!"

— J.A.

"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.