TOUR 212 NEW ZEALAND MINI RAIL TOUR 9 days
Escorted departures from Auckland 22 July and 23 September. See amended itinerary.
Southbound: Depart Auckland 7.45am every Monday, Thursday, Saturday
Northbound: Commence Dunedin every Monday, Thursday, Saturday.
Day 1. AUCKLAND - WELLINGTON
Depart Auckland 7.45am (Strand Railway Station) aboard the "Northern Explorer" train and travel through suburban Auckland, fertile Waikato dairy farming country, and the central North Island including the famed Raurimu Spiral, a major engineering feat. Continue through the Tongariro National Park with magnificent views of the central North Island volcanoes in fine weather. Arrive Wellington early evening. You will be met and transferred to your accommodation.
Day 2. WELLINGTON (B)
Morning sightseeing includes Wellington's most famous sights including Mt Victoria, Parliament Buildings, part of the Marine Drive, Botanical Gardens, and a ride on the cable car.
Optional full day LORD OF THE RINGS tour including city sights and Weta workshop, home of the "Lord of the Rings", "Hobbit" and other great films. Also visit some of the film sites in Wellington including Weathertop, Dunharrow Plateau, Frodo Tree, Race to the Ferry, Shellob's Lair Rock, Helms Deep, Minas Tirith, River Anduin, Gardens of Isengard, Rivendell, Fords of Isen and much more. Picnic lunch included by the river at Rivendell! - extra cost $100
Day 3. WELLINGTON - PICTON - CHRISTCHURCH
Transfer to the Interislander terminal for the 3 hour 40 minute scenic cruise across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton. Join the "Coastal Pacific" train for the scenic ride down the Kaikoura Coast to Christchurch arriving early evening. You will be met and transferred to your accommodation.
You are welcome to stay over in the charming seaside resort of Kaikoura if you wish with time for a whale watch cruise or flight, swim with the dolphins, visit the seal colony, or sample some of the best seafood in New Zealand including crayfish. "Coastal Pacific" arrives Kaikoura 5.10pm day 6 and departs 5.10pm day 7. Extra cost for stopover $50 plus activity fees.
Day 4. TRANZ ALPINE EXCURSION (B)
Transfer to the rail station to join the "Tranz Alpine Express" for one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. Travel across the Canterbury Plains and into the foothills of the Southern Alps following the course of the Waimakariri River to Arthurs Pass. Continue through the Otira tunnel and arrival at the seaside town of Greymouth is scheduled for 1.05pm. Explore the town, visit a jade carving factory, or whatever you wish before departing at 2.05pm for the return journey. Such magnificent scenery deserves a second look., Arrival back in Christchurch is scheduled for 6.31pm and you will be transferred back to your accommodation.
mdDay 4. CHRISTCHURCH (B)
Free day to explore Christchurch. Maybe visit the Ferrymead Museum with its historic locomotives and trams, punt on the Avon River, enjoy the botanical gardens and museum, take a day trip to seaside Akaroa or the alpine thermal resort of Hanmer Springs or whatever you wish.
For Lord of the Rings fans the "Edoras" tour by 4WD is a must. Depart Christchurch 9am and enjoy breathtaking alpine back country scenery, a short walk to stand on the summit of Edoras and see other Lord of the Rings sites. A selection of Movie replicas is available for photo use. Extra cost $230.
Day 6. CHRISTCHURCH - OAMARU - DUNEDIN (B)
Depart Christchurch 7.45am by Intercity bus arriving in the historic centre of Oamaru late morning. Visit the Little Blue Penguin colony, ride a Penny Farthing cyle if you dare, sample the local Whitestone cheese, and enjoy the art deco revival of the historic precinct. Travel south and enjoy some beach time to explore the unique Moeraki Boulders. Arrive Dunedin early evening for 3 nights
Day 7. DUNEDIN (B)
This morning enjoy a tour of Larnachs Castle and a tour of inrtoduction to the city passing the Octagon, Botanic Gardens, Otago Museum, University of Otago. Knox Church, and the world's steepest street.
This afternoon visit the Otago Peninsula including a tour to see the local wildlife including seals, and Yellow Eyed penguins.
Day 8. DUNEDIN - "Taeri Gorge Railway" (B)
Make your wayto the rail station (10 minutes walk from most hotels) and enjoy a ride on the privately operated "Taieri Gorge" railway through spectacular Central Otago gold rush scenery to Pukerangi and return. Depart 9.30am and return at 1.30pm. The rest of the day is free to explore Dunedin at your leisure.
An optional ride on the SEASIDER (normally operated by "Silver Fern" railcar) around the spectacular coastal route to Waitati and back is available daily December - March departing 2pm and returning 3.30pm. Extra cost $60.
Day 9. DUNEDIN DEPART (B)
You will be transferred to the airport for departure.
Day 8. DUNEDIN - QUEENSTOWN (B)
Transfer to the rail station to join "Taieri Gorge Railway" for the scenic journey to Pukerangi and transfer by shuttle to Queenstown. You will be taken to your accommodation.
Day 9. QUEENSTOWN (B)
This morning visit Queenstown Hill for a panoramic view of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. Continue to Lake Hayes, the bungy bridge, Gibbston valley winery, and the historic gold mining settlement of Arrowtown. Explore the town and ruins of the Chinese village.
The afternoon is free to enjoy this beautiful resort with many optional activities (extra expense) available. Ride the gondola to the Skyline restaurant and luge,enjoy an exciting (must do) jet boat ride on the Shotover River, bungy jump, white water raft, take a cruise on the historic steamer "Earnslaw" or whatever you wish.
For Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans we recommend the tour to Glenorchy with stunning natural scenery and places where Isengard, Wizards Vale, Lothlorien Forest, Amon Hen, Misty Mountains, Ithilien, were filmed - extra expense $16
Day 10. MILFORD SOUND EXCURSION (BL)
A day of magnificent scenery as we drive along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and across Southland farming country to Lake Te Anau for a brief stopover then on into the heart of the Fiordland National Park travelling through the Eglinton and Hollyford Valleys. Visit the Mirror Lakes and Roaring Chasm and drive through the Homer tunnel before we arrive in Milford Sound. Board your cruise to travel the length of Milford Sound under majestic Mitre Peak. See the seal colony and Bowen Falls before retracing our steps to Queenstown. A buffet lunch is included during your cruise.
You may stay in Te Anau and enjoy a day cruise to Doubtful Sound tomorrow rejoining us in Queenstown tuesday night if you wish. Extra cost $290 per person.
Day 11. QUEENSTOWN DEPART. (B)
You will be transferred to the airport for departure.
WEST COAST EXTENSION. Departs Queenstown every wednesday
Day 12. Wednesday. QUEENSTOWN - WANAKA - FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER (B)
Drive through the Kawarau Gorge to Wanaka for a brief stop with admission to amazing Puzzling World included and continue through Makarora and over the Haast Pass into the rainforest and spectacular coastline of the West Coast. Visit Shipwreck beach, beautiful Lake Matheson, Franz Josef Glacier lookout, and arrive Franz Josef Glacier late afternoon. (Some tours may stay at Fox Glacier)
Day 13. Thursday. FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER - HOKITIKA (B)
Time for a helicopter or ski plane flight or heli hike on the glacier (extra expense and weather permitting) or bush walk. Drive north to Hokitika, setting for the Booker award winning novel "The Luminaries". Overnight Hokitika or Greymouth.
Optional fabulous White Heron tour November to early march including a 20 minute jetboat cruise on the Lake Okarito lagoon and a walk through the rainforest to the bird hide. We have 30-40 minutes here to see the White Heron, Royal Spoonbill, Little Shag and other birdlife. Extra cost $135
Day 14. Friday. HOKITIKA - PUNAKAIKI ROCKS - CHRISTCHURCH. (B)
Visit the recreated gold mining village of Shantytown. pan for gold and ride the steam train into the forest. After a short tour of Greymouth continue to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks in the Paparoa National Park. Explore the area before driving across the Southern Alps over spectacular Arthurs Pass arriivng Christchurch late afternoon.
Day 15. Saturday. CHRISTCHURCH DEPART (B)
You will be transferred to the airport for departure
TOUR OPTIONS FROM AUCKLAND.
Tour 201. WAITOMO CAVES - HOBBITON - ROTORUA. 2 days/1 night. Departs Auckland 7.45am every tuesday and thursday for the Otorohanga Kiwi House to see our native birds at feding time, a guided tour of the Waitomo Glowworm Cave, Barbecue buffet lunch at Roselands Farm restaurant, a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, overnight bed and breakfast in Rotorua, and tours of the Waiotapu and Whakarewarewa thermal areas and Maori concert before returning to Auckland.
Bonus One free night if joining our Mini rail tour next day.
COROMANDEL ONE DAY TOUR FROM AUCKLAND Departs daily. Includes Driving Creek Railway (Minimum 2 passengers). Cost $380 per person (L)
Enjoy a day on the Coromandel Peninsula including the historic giold mining towns of Thames and Coromandel. A highlight will be an excursion on the "Driving Creek Railway", the fulfillment of the dream of Barry Brickell, potter, environmentalist, and rail enthusiast.Ride through the regenerating native forest to the "Eyefull Tower" and back. Cross the Coromandel Peninsula and see some of our great kauri trees. Take a 90 minute round trip hike to Cathedral Cove and, subject to tide conditons, dig your own hot bath at Hotwater beach. Return to Auckland late evening.
BAY OF ISLANDS Includes Bay of Islands Vintage Railway
Departs Auckland every wednesday. Minimum 2 passengers
7.30am. depart Auckland and drive north to Kawakawa to join the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway to Taumarere and back then into the Bay of islands for a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty grounds to see the Treaty House, carved Meeting House, and great war canoe as well as enjoy a scintillating Maori Concert and spend time in the excellent museum portraying the events surrounding the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Take the ferry to historic Russell for a tour including the oldest Church in New Zealand and Flagstaff Hill before returning to Auckland about 8pm. Tour cost ;per adult $299