2019 South Island Spring Tour

Thursday 10 October - Thursday 24th October

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 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 Christchurch to Greymouth, including the beauty of the Waimakariri River gorge and the Canterbury plains.

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 a walk through the rainforest at the West Coast treetop walkway, a day in Akaroa with a scenic cruise and leisurely afternoons spent in beautiful Dunedin and Arrowtown, as well as a full day in Aoraki Mt Cook.

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.



*Please note this is a draft itinerary and is subject to change

Tour Start - Thursday, 10 October: Wellington - Meet and greet

Meet your guides from 2pm at the Grand Mecure 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 artefacts and displays in museums and government buildings.

Overnight at the Grand Mecure Hotel - Wellington

Day 1 - Friday, 11 October: Christchurch - Travel from Wellington to Piction via the Interislander ferry, then to Christchurch via train

After an early breakfast we board the Interislander to cruise across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton. Travel from Picton to Christchurch aboard the Coastal Pacific train through the coastal town of Kaikoura to be met by our coaches in Christchurch at 8:30pm for a transfer to our Hotel.

Overnight at the Commodore Hotel - Christchurch

Day 2 - Saturday, 12 October: Christchurch - Christchurch excursions to Akaroa by coach and cruise

Our day includes a sightseeing trip to Akaroa for a scenic and wildlife cruise of the harbour. Alternatively take in a four-hour cooking class at the famed Akaroa Cooking school (numbers limited and an extra charge applies). After the scenic and wildlife cruise there is an optional tour of The Giants House - World famous sculpture mosaic garden.

Overnight at the Commodore Hotel - Christchurch

Day 3 - Sunday, 13 October: Greymouth - Travel from Christchurch to Greymouth via Punakaiki by train and coach

We travel on the TranzAlpine from Christchurch across the Canterbury Plains, through the rugged Waimakariri Gorge and Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass National Park and the Otira tunnel then rural West Coast to Greymouth.

On arrival we are met by our coaches for a scenic trip along the rugged west Coast to the famous Punakaiki Reserve to explore the blow-holes and pancake rocks before returning to Greymouth.

Overnight at the Ashley Hotel and Coleraine Motor lodge - Greymouth

Day 4 - Monday, 14 October: Fox - Travel from Greymouth to Fox via Mahinapua by coach

Greymouth – Hokitika - Mahinapua - Fox (coach) 

The morning will be spent with some time in Hokitika before 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. Lunch is at the Ross Empire Hotel. Afterwards we travel south to Franz Josef for a short walk to the glacier valley and then on to Fox Glacier township for our overnight stop.

Overnight at Fox Glacier and Glacier Country Hotels - Fox

Day 5 - Tuesday, 15 October: Wanaka - Travel from Fox to Wanaka via Haast by coach

We travel through Bruce Bay and past Lakes Paringa and Moeraki to Ship Creek where we have options for short walks (30min return Dune lake, 20min return Kahakitea swamp walk or easy access to the beach).

Lunch in Haast is followed by a visit to the DoC information centre and then a scenic drive through the magnificent Haast valley and Gates of Haast with short photographic stops at Fantail falls and Lake Hawea.

Overnight at the Edgewater Resort hotel - Wanaka

Day 6 - Wednesday, 16 October: Wanaka - Wanaka excursions by coach

Local morning tours include visiting the National Transport and Toy Museum and the Lavender farm. In the afternoon there is a coach trip to the Cardrona Valley for an optional tour of the Cardrona Distillery or optional wine and beer tasting at the iconic Cardrona Hotel. Alternatively simply relax or enjoy a stroll along the shores of Lake Wanaka.

Overnight at the Edgewater Resort hotel - Wanaka

Day 7 - Thursday, 17 October: Queenstown - Travel from Wanaka to Queenstown by coach, with an excursion to Walter Peak by cruise

Our coach will take us through the spectacular Otago landscapes to Queenstown. Otago is rich in gold-mining history and more recently tourism based on spectacular scenery and adventure tourism.

We travel on the Steamer Earnslaw to Walter Peaks station to enjoy a farmland experience and magnificent homestead lunch before returning to Queenstown where you have a few hours to explore the township.

Overnight at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Lakefront - Queenstown

Day 8 - Friday, 18 October: Te Anau - Travel Queenstown to Te Anau via Arrowtown by coach

We continue our trip with a stop at Arrowtown to explore the history of the town, and then travel on to Te Anau for our overnight stay.

Overnight at the Distinction Luxmore – Te Anau

Day 9 - Saturday, 19 October: Te Anau - Te Anau excursion to Milford Sound by coach and cruise

Today we will travel to the heart of Fiordland National Park and take in the beauty and vastness of remote Milford Sound on our cruise through to the Tasman Sea. 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. Alternatively take in a full day tour to the remote Doubtful Sound (numbers limited and an extra charge applies).

On our return to Te Anau we stop at the Takahe Sanctuary to view the endangered Takahe.

Overnight at the Distinction Luxmore - Te Anau

Day 10 - Sunday, 20 October: Dunedin - Travel from Te Anau to Dunedin via Mandeville by coach 

We continue our travel by coach for the scenic trip between Te Anau and Dunedin. This route will be though mountainous region of Fiordland to rolling pastoral farmlands, South Otago landscapes.  

We stop at the Mandeville Aerodrome (Croydon Airport company) that offers a museum, the original Kingston flier, an insight into aircraft restoration and optional flights by bi-plane and heritage aircraft.

Just down the road is Gore, with time for lunch and to explore the Hokonui Moonshine Museum

Overnight at the Scenic Southern Cross - Dunedin

Day 11 - Monday, 21 October: Dunedin - Dunedin excursions

This morning there will be a tour of Olveston House, an authentic and original historic home, as well as a city tour aboard our coaches. In the afternoon you have the option of a tour of Lanarch Castle or a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre.

Alternative morning tour: Taieri gorge rail trip  (an extra charge applies)

Overnight at the Scenic Southern Cross - Dunedin

Day 12 - Tuesday, 22 October: Aoraki Mt Cook - Travel from Dunedin to Mt Cook via Oamaru and Waitaki Valley by train and coach

We arrive at the white-stone Victorian precinct in Oamaru which has a number of restored Oamaru stone heritage buildings.

We travel directly to Dot’s Castle for lunch at the Riverstone café and tour of Dot’s Castle.

The coach trip from Oamaru to the Hermitage will be through the Waitaki Valley and Otago landscapes to the tussock covered McKenzie Basin. We will have a chance to view the Benmore Dam and drive the network of canals that have been built to support the hydroelectric stations. Our coach will take us to the iconic Hermitage Hotel situated in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park for two nights stay.

Overnight at the Hermitage – Aoraki Mt Cook

Day 13 - Wednesday, 23 October: Aoraki Mt Cook - Aoraki Mt Cook excursions

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.  We will also use our coaches for a trip up the Tasman Valley, followed by a 20 minute walk to view the Tasman Valley and Glacier.

The day may 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 at the Hermitage - Aoraki Mt Cook

Day 14 - Thursday, 24 October: Christchurch - Travel from Aoraki Mt Cook to Christchurch by coach - Tour end

The final day of our tour will be the return coach trip to Christchurch. On the way we will stop in Tekapo with a lunch stop in Geraldine where you can sample and taste the range of seasonal juices that are manufactured by Barkers Fruit. The tour will finish with a drive across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, where we will bid you farewell until your next trip with us.


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. 

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 993

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

Addressed to :
Readers' Rail Tour
PO Box 6341
Wellesley St Auckland

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. 3.5% fee applies.


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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!”

— J.M.

"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.