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New Zealand Mainline Steam Rail Tour
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New Zealand Mainline Steam Rail Tour

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 22 day(s)
Group Size: 40 - 80 people
Destination(s): New Zealand  
Specialty Categories: Railway Trips   Photography and Videography  
Season: October - November
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 3415 Pound Sterling (GBP)
Maximum Per Person Price: 3860 Pound Sterling (GBP)

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive Auckland. Arrive Auckland, transfer to our hotel and check in. The rest of the day is free so you can relax after a long journey.

Day 2: Glenbrook Vintage Railway. This morning we travel by coach to visit the Glenbrook Vintage Railway. We've charter the line to make sure there are plenty of runbys and ample opportunities to photograph the beautifully restored locomotives and rolling stock. GVR has the largest collection of historic rolling stock in New Zealand, it was a highlight of our last tour. Overnight in Auckland. Meals included: (B).

Day 3: Auckland to National Park. Joining our steam-hauled train, we head south on the mainline to National Park. Our overnight stay will be at the Chateau Tongariro on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu, the North Island’s highest peak and an active volcano. During the course of our travel our train ascends the famous Raurimu Spiral. Overnight in Whakapapa. Meals included: (B), (D).

Day 4: National Park to Napier. Today our train climbs south through the military town of Waiouru and the spectacular scenery of the Volcanic Plateau to Palmerston North. Here we change locomotives, and direction, for the run to Napier. Destroyed by a major earthquake in 1931, Napier was rebuilt in the popular Art Deco style of the time and is now the Art Deco capital of New Zealand. The city's pedestrian-friendly streets give you plenty of opportunity to enjoy the sights of this beautiful city. Overnight in Napier. Meals included: (B), (D).

Day 5: Napier to Gisborne. The scenery just keeps getting better! Departing Napier, we roll past vineyards but are soon climbing into more rugged forest areas before entering pastureland. The line to Gisborne also crosses the highest viaduct in Australasia, climbing high above the coastline with spectacular views and photo opportunities. Overnight in Gisborne. Meals included: (B), (D).

Day 6: Gisborne to Napier. Retracing our journey, we return to Napier. You’ll enjoy photo opportunities all along this spectacular line. We even hope to stop on Gisborne airport's runway, which the line crosses. Overnight in Napier. Meals included: (B).

Day 7: Napier. Today you’re free to explore Napier, a beautiful city. We’d recommend the Art Deco guided walk and the magnificent aquarium. There will be a chance to do some shopping or relax at a café and watch the world go by. Overnight in Napier. Meals included: (B).

Day 8: Napier to Wellington. Traveling back to Wellington via the Wairarapa line, we go through the 8 km-long Rimutaka Tunnel, across some beautiful viaducts and through a number of small rural towns. Overnight in Wellington. Meals included: (B), (D).

Day 9: Wellington. Wellington is New Zealand’s capital, and there’s loads to see in this city by the sea. Visit the national museum, Te Papa. Ride the cable car, and visit the Cable Car Museum at the top of the line. Ride suburban trains, visit the Mainline Steam Depot or venture further afield to Featherston’s Fell Museum. It is easy to reach; just hop on a Wairarapa commuter train. Take a walk along the waterfront, or shop till you drop. There is something for everyone in Wellington. Overnight in Wellington. Meals included: (B).

Day 10: Wellington to Blenheim. This morning we join the Interislander Ferry for the trip across Cook Strait to Picton and on to Blenheim. The trip down the Marlborough Sounds is stunning, as the ferry passes down the narrow sounds to berth at Picton. You will have time to explore Blenheim on arrival. Overnight in Blenheim. Meals included:(B), (D).

Day 11: Picton to Christchurch. If you’d like to travel the section of line from Picton, you’ll be taken there by bus to join our train. Otherwise, you can join the train at Blenheim for a journey to Christchurch. There's beautiful coastal scenery along the Kaikoura Coast: the ocean to your left and mountains to your right. Watch for sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks. The train will stop at a sea lion colony so you can get close for pictures. Overnight in Christchurch. Meals included: (B), (D).

Day 12: Christchurch to Arthur's Pass and return. Today we make a round trip to Arthur's Pass, traversing some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand. Our train crosses the Canterbury Plains from Christchurch to Springfield, where we start climbing into the mountains of the Southern Alps. Crossing viaducts and clinging to cliffs, we eventually enter high alpine valleys before our arrival in Arthur's Pass. You’ll have the chance to explore the village and surrounding towering mountains. Watch out for the native mountain parrot, the Kea. These cheeky birds are experts at stealing unwary tourists’ lunch! Back in Christchurch, you might like to explore the city. You can book dinner on the trams or sample one of the many fine restaurants the city has to offer. Overnight in Christchurch. Meals included: (B).

Day 13: Christchurch to Dunedin. Our train heads south through rolling farmlands and along the Pacific coast before climbing over the hills into Dunedin. This is a university town with many historic buildings including the most beautifully restored railway station in New Zealand. The Dunedin area is rich in history and wildlife, including penguins, albatross and seals. Overnight in Dunedin. Meals included: (B), (D).

Days 14 - 16: Dunedin and the Middlemarch Celebrations. On June 7, 1879, Vincent Pyke turned the first sod at Wingatui to begin the building of the Otago Central Railway to Cromwell, 60 km of which now comprise the Taieri Gorge Railway. It is our great fortune to celebrate with the locals the 130th anniversary of the line. Vulcan Railcar Rm51, steam locomotive Ab795 and an assortment of heritage rolling stock will run services between Middlemarch and Pukerangi. A major excursion on Sunday Oct. 25, hauled by steam locomotive Ab663, will bring passengers from Dunedin to Middlemarch.

Middlemarch has a unique rail line and station precinct. In the 1960s, the Otago Central Line to Cromwell held a fascination for the public and rail enthusiasts alike, owing to the spectacular scenery and the way the railway operated. Part of this fascination was the Vulcan Railcars, which carried passengers, mail and mixed goods trains for freight and parcels. This experience will be recreated especially for the celebrations. Three overnights in Dunedin. Meals included: (B).

Day 17: Dunedin to Queenstown. Today we travel by coach from Dunedin to Queenstown. Queenstown is known worldwide for its scenery and adventure activities, from horseback-riding to bungee-jumping and everything in between! Steam enthusiasts will also know it as home to the Kingston Flyer. We will make stops along the way so you can photograph the stunning scenery. Overnight in Queenstown. Meals included: (B), (D).

Day 18: Queenstown. This morning we start the day with a leisurely breakfast cruise on the steam-powered SS Earnslaw. As we cruise the lake you will have the chance to visit the engine room. After breakfast we take the Kingston Flyer, over whose 14km stretch of track run two New Zealand-built AB Pacific Class steam locomotives: AB 795, built in 1927 and a former Royal Train Locomotive; and AB 778, built in 1925. They haul seven steam-heated wooden carriages date back to 1898. We've chartered this train especially, so you get the opportunity for photo runbys, not available on scheduled public trips. The afternoon will be free to explore Queenstown. Take a gondola to the top of a nearby peak for stunning views, a jet boat ride or a leisurely walk around town. Overnight in Queenstown. Meals included: (B).

Day 19: Queenstown to Dunedin. Today we travel back to Dunedin, staying overnight and rejoining our train next morning. Meals included: (B), (D).

Day 20: Dunedin to Christchurch. The homeward leg has started as we travel north back to Christchurch. As we leave Dunedin, the train follows the coast for a short distance before climbing through the hill suburbs, giving wonderful views out to sea. Overnight in Christchurch. Meals included: (B), (D).

Day 21: Christchurch. Choose from the following options today:

1: A free day to explore Christchurch. Perhaps take in a guided tour, ride the trams or shop. We highly recommend a visit to the Arts Center with its huge range of craft shops and bustling market.
2: Join a tour to the Weka Pass Railway for a steam-hauled excursion over this private line which winds through the hills of the wine-producing region of Waipara.
3: Join a tour to the Plains Railway in Ashburton which features two Rogers K locomotives and a unique period village to add to the atmosphere. Overnight in Christchurch. Meals included: (B).

Note: Options 2 and 3 cost extra and must be reserved when you make your booking.

- Day 22: Tour ends. Tour ends in Christchurch this morning.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Note: Deposit required: $700 (per person).

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