New Zealand's Kiwirail offers three Scenic Journeys by train. These cover large expanses of the North and South Islands and are enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
New Zealand is a beautiful country and rich with culture from the Maori people, to the British descendants to the Asian population. As well as a diverse population, New Zealand or Aoteoroa as it is called in Maori, offers a wide range of scenery from natural rain forest, to glaciers, to thermal springs and snowy mountains. A good way to travel the country is to ride the Kiwirail Scenic Journeys trains which cover three different routes across the North Island and South Island.
This service runs from Christchurch to Greymouth and back again, transversing the majestic Southern Alps. The journey one way takes 4 1/2 hours and starts by crossing the Canterbury Plains before ascending into the mountains where it crosses gorges and remote areas, inaccessible by road. In winter, the midsection of the journey passes through the snowy Alps with amazing views and a serious chill factor. In places, the train crosses high bridges with raging turquoise rivers far below.
Coastal Pacific Train
This train operates between the warmer months of September and May and runs from Christchurch up to Picton where the ferry terminal for the North Island is situated.
Well suported by locals and tourists, it follows the coastline for part of the journey with magnificent views of seals, rugged cliffs and sparkling seas. The one way journey is just over 5 hours with a break of a few minutes at the small fishing village of Kaikoura.
Northern Explorer Train
This route runs 6 days per week, alternating its starting point between Auckland and Wellington.The journey is long at almost 11 hours but the scenery is magnificent. The highlights include volcanic mountains and thick beech forests. As this is a longer journey, the return trip cannot be made in one day as can the other two services. Some tourists find it convenient to catch the train one way and then continue their journey by car or plane. The Northen Explorer links to communter trains at Wellington Station and Britomart Station in central Auckland and buses are also available outside of these stations.
There are an assortment of fare types available for these trips and flexi tickets and multi bookings are available. The train carriages are modern and luxurious and it's a wonderful way to travel in comfort and see the wild beauty New Zealand has to offer. A food service carriage available on all services as is an open air viewing carriage.
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