TranzAlpine - Waimakariri Bridge
Caption: TranzAlpine - Waimakariri Bridge
Caption: Coastal Pacific - Mountains and sea near Oaro
Caption: TranzAlpine crossing staircase viaduct
Caption: Wellington at dawn
Caption: A taste of local culture. Photo credit: Chris Williams
Caption: View to Auckland's Sky Tower. Photo Credit: Blaine Harrington
Caption: Coastal Pacific - Kahutara River
Caption: Tranz Scenic - Northern Explorer with Mt Ruapehu
Caption: Milford Sound Mitre Peak Rocks
Caption: Queenstown. Credit: Tourism New Zealand

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Journey Snapshot

Activity level: Level 2 Requires moderate physical activity. You need to be able to participate in physical activities such as longer walking tours, walking over uneven terrain, climbing steps and be comfortable with some periods of standing. Not suitable if you have limited mobility.
Destination: New Zealand by Rail
Duration: 14 days, 13 nights
Flight information: Depart London Heathrow to arrive into Auckland Airport [AKL] on Day 1 and depart Queenstown [QZN] on Day 14
Pickup location: Auckland Airport

Overview

Choose your own departure date for your group.

Explore New Zealand by rail and be amazed by the contrasts of the North and South Islands on this 14 day escorted journey

New Zealand offers four superb train journeys including the Overlander through the central North Island, the spectacular Coastal Pacific linking Picton and Christchurch; the world-renowned Tranz Alpine from Christchurch through the majestic Southern Alps. Join us as we explore the highlights of New Zealandon this 14 day itinerary that includes all four of these journeys.

Itinerary

PRE-JOURNEY - Expect to depart UK 2 days prior to the start of the tour to arrive into New Zealand on Day 1.

Itinerary summary: DAY 1 - Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand
DAY 2 - Auckland
DAY 3 - Auckland - Bay of Islands
DAY 4 - Bay of Islands
DAY 5 - Bay of Islands - Auckland
DAY 6 - Auckland - Wellington
DAY 7 - Wellington
DAY 8 - Wellington - Christchurch
DAY 9 - Christchurch - Akaroa - Christchurch
DAY 10 - Christchurch - Franz Josef
DAY 11 - Franz Josef - Queenstown
DAY 12 - Queenstown - Milford Sounds - Queenstown
DAY 13 - Queenstown
DAY 14 - Depart Queenstown
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Full Itinerary

DAY 1 - Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand

Welcome to New Zealand! You will be met on arrival at the Auckland International Airport before being transferred to your hotel. After your flight to New Zealand we have left this evening and dinner at your leisure.

Included meals: none 
Accommodation: Grand Millennium Hotel Auckland  

DAY 2 - Auckland

After breakfast at the hotel, we'll head out this morning to experience a highlights tour of Auckland, the ‘City of Sails’, exploring the lively waterfront area. Enjoy the relaxing views along Tamaki Drive, which runs east past peaceful sheltered bays to Auckland's most expensive real estate. Drive through the Auckland Domain Gardens, to arrive at Auckland Museum for a visit which gives an excellent introduction to the people of the Pacific and New Zealand and the remarkable flora, fauna and geography of the area. We return to the hotel this afternoon allowing you some free time to enjoy Auckland city before later this evening visiting Auckland’s Sky Tower – at 328m tall is one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere offering you outstanding views of the Auckland CBD and the surrounding region. Here we enjoy a welcome dinner in the Orbit revolving restaurant.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: Grand Millennium Hotel, Auckland  

DAY 3 - Auckland - Bay of Islands

Breakfast at your hotel. There's no place in the world like the Bay of Islands a stunning region of 144 secluded islands, abundant in natural wonders and marine life. Regarded as the birthplace of New Zealand as a bi- cultural nation, the Bay of Islands is rich in both Maori culture and early European history. Discover well-preserved Maori and European relics of the past, and learn more about the unique history that has shaped this country. Departing Auckland city we tour to the Bay of Islands taking you through spectacular scenery of native forests and sub-tropical bush to the foreshores of the National Maritime Park. Continuing our journey we reach Paihia in the beautiful Bay of Islands, where we’ll take a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty House where New Zealand’s history began. Dinner will be served at the hotel this evening.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: Kingsgate, Paihia  

DAY 4 - Bay of Islands

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then today is a day at leisure. The Bay of Islands has so many options for you to discover - perhaps a day trip to the light house at Cape Reinga the most northern tip of New Zealand, followed by a safari along 90 Mile Beach on the way home. Maybe try your luck at deep-sea fishing, or take the plunge swimming with the dolphins or just take time out to relax within Paihia or Russell - New Zealand’s first Capital. Your Tour Director will be on hand to assist with any arrangements you wish to make for today. 

Included meals: Breakfast 
Accommodation: Kingsgate, Paihia  

DAY 5 - Bay of Islands - Auckland

This morning after breakfast at the hotel we board a luxury catamaran to cruise the Bay of Islands to Cape Brett before making a passage through the Hole in the Rock. Following your return to the harbour, you disembark back in Paihia to travel back to Auckland. Your journey will take you past scenic native forests and sub-tropical bush, before crossing the Auckland Harbour Bridge to arrive back into the spectacular city scene of Auckland city by twilight. 

Included meals: Breakfast 
Accommodation: Grand Millennium Hotel, Auckland  

DAY 6 - Auckland - Wellington

Today we are transferred from our hotel to the Auckland Train Station to board The Northern Explorer. The Northern Explorer is a journey through the heart of the North Island, travelling between Auckland - New Zealand's largest city and home of the Sky Tower, to Wellington – New Zealand's arts and culture capital. Along the way you pass the Central North Island ski towns of National Park and Ohakune, popular with young and old alike. You also see fantastic views of New Zealand farmland, the volcanic plateau, Mount Ruapehu, the world famous Raurimu Spiral, and stunning river gorges - all from our panoramic windows or open-air viewing decks allowing you the best possible views. On arrival into Wellington we're transferred to our accommodation.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Wellington  

DAY 7 - Wellington

A morning sightseeing tour of New Zealand’s capital city awaits us this morning, set around a magnificent natural harbour. Highlights include the famous Beehive and Parliament Buildings; Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral, a fine example of Revival Gothic architecture; the lovely Lady Norwood Rose Gardens and the breathtaking views from Mt Victoria. Time also to visit Te Papa - the National Museum of New Zealand which offers visitors a unique and authentic experience of New Zealand’s treasures and stories. There is time at leisure this afternoon to further explore Wellington.

Included meals: Breakfast 
Accommodation: James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Wellington 

DAY 8 - Wellington - Christchurch

Today we cruise the Cook Strait heading through the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sounds into the South Island. On arrival in Picton you board The Coastal Pacific train journey to travel from the delightful port of Picton through to Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city. This journey is a scenic feast of New Zealand, with the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side of your train and the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline on the other. One of the world's most scenic train journeys, the Coastal Pacific travels through 22 tunnels and crosses 175 bridges. The Coastal Pacific includes an open air viewing carriage where all your senses are awakened with the clean, fresh, sea air. On arrival you are transferred to your accommodation and we will enjoy dinner together at our hotel tonight.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel, Christchurch 

DAY 9 - Christchurch - Akaroa - Christchurch

We depart the hotel by coach this morning to visit the beautiful unspoilt old French whaling depot of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula. Akaroa was settled by the French in an early attempt to colonise New Zealand and still retains a good deal of French character in its street names, boutique shops and cafes. Visit a cheese factory en-route and sample the local produce, then explore the charming village with its cafes, art and craft shops and colonial style architecture. Time out allows you to explore the delightful village and for lunch at your leisure. In the afternoon enjoy a cruise on Akaroa Harbour which is known for its wildlife including penguins, marine birdlife and the very rare Hector’s Dolphins (smallest species in the world). This afternoon we return to our hotel in Christchurch.

Included meals: Breakfast 
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel, Christchurch 

DAY 10 - Christchurch - Franz Josef

From Christchurch we traverse the Southern Alps aboard the famous Tranz-Alpine rail journey to Arthurs Pass. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps. Once we have crossed into the Southern Alps we are met at the Village of Arthurs Pass by our coach for us to continue our journey to the West Coast – or the Coast as locals call it, stopping in Hokitika where a visit is made to the Greenstone and Glass Blowing factories. Further south we tour the Westland National Park, the home of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. On arrival, time is available for optional scenic flights, before continuing onto our accommodation for the night. Dinner will be served at our hotel tonight.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel, Franz Josef  

DAY 11 - Franz Josef - Queenstown

After breakfast we'll drive towards the southern end of the South Island’s West Coast Road.  Vistitors have described there being a strong sense of entering a primeval land here, and a feeling of total isolation. Arriving at Haast, you are surrounded by a landscape of rainforest, wetlands, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. This wilderness forms part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, so designated because South Westland and Fiordland have some of the most dramatic forest and mountain scenery and natural resources in the world. From the Westland National Park we travel through the Haast River valleys and over the Haast Pass to Makaroa and onto the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka. Travelling past Lake Hawea we reach the popular Lake Wanaka, the starting point of the mighty Clutha River. This afternoon we travel via Cromwell following the Kawerau Gorge Road into Queenstown. Dinner will be served at our hotel tonight.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: Scenic Suites, Queenstown 

DAY 12 - Queenstown - Milford Sounds - Queenstown

We travel by luxury coach today on an unforgettable journey from Queenstown into Milford Sound. Located within the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, this region is rich with dense rainforest, lakes and waterfalls cascading from rugged mountain peaks. Journey through the Southern Alps via the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km tunnel drilled through a solid mountain of rock. Upon arrival at Milford Sound, board your vessel for a spectacular cruise where you will see the wonders of Mitre Peak, glacier scarred rock walls that rise 1,200m vertically from the sea, and waterfalls that tumble from hanging valleys and crash into the sound far below. We'll return to Queenstown where the evening is spent at leisure.

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch 
Accommodation: Scenic Suites, Queenstown 

DAY 13 - Queenstown

Today is a day at leisure. You could visit the Remarkable’s or Coronet Peak, experience the thrill of a jet-boat ride along the Shotover or Kawerau Rivers. Perhaps a scenic 4 wheel drive excursion through Skippers Canyon, it’s up to you - your Tour Director can help you plan how you spend your time. This evening as a special farewell dinner we take a cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station to dine at the Colonel’s Homestead.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: Scenic Suites, Queenstown 

DAY 14 - Depart Queenstown

Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Today you are transferred from the hotel to connect with your outbound flight.

Included meals: Breakfast 

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More information

What's includedWhat's not includedImportant information

What's included

  • International flights from London Heathrow Airport to Auckland Airport and return from Queenstown Airport to London Heathrow Airport
  • Airport shuttles to/from the airport
  • Accommodation as detailed in the itinerary
  • Meals as detailed in the itinerary
  • Transport by rail and coach
  • National English speaking driver guide
  • Tour Director from The Big Journey Company as well as the local driver guide (subject to minimum group size being reached.)
  • Sightseeing with admission as specified in the itinerary

What's not included

  • Drinks and any meals not mentioned as included in the itinerary.
  • Gratuities to drivers, guides or rangers etc. Our local travel service providers are paid well and fairly for their work. However, it is usual for groups to tip guides and drivers and it would be reasonable for each group member to factor in a contribution of around NZD18 per day.
  • Visas, travel and medical insurance.
  • Any personal items and anything not mentioned under included in price above.
  • Any optional activities offered.

Important information

  • Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant tour.
  • Check in is after 2 - 3pm and check out is before 10am unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
  • Cancellation 90-0 days prior to departure cancellation fee is 100%. It is your responsibility to ensure the correct travel insurance in place to protect you against the need to cancel your holiday. Deposits are non-refundable. Balance payments are due 14 weeks prior to departure.
  • Further terms and conditions apply and will be provided upon request or at the time of booking. The Big Journey Company reserves the right to withdraw any offer prior to accepting a reservation request. This does not affect your statutory rights. This offer is subject to availability and space is limited.

The big journey promise

The big journey company was set up with one goal in mind, to share our passion for inspirational cultures, destinations and experiences. Over the last 10 years we have had the privilege to escort thousands of travellers on awe inspiring and sometimes life changing journeys. Our promise to every guest who joins us is that we will do everything possible to make sure your journey not only exceeds expectations but delivers at least one moment of true amazement.

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Holiday tours are operated by The Big Journey Company Limited. Registered in England. Registered office: Marron Bank, Branthwaite, Cumbria, CA14 4SZ. Registered number: 6532140. VAT number: 290797457. The Big Journey Company Limited is a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and holds an Air Travel Organiser’s License number T7282.

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