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    "16 Days New Zealand Rail Adventure" from $5,733pp $3,899pp after member benefits.

    • Return flights from Australia (provision)
    • 15 nights' silver and gold standard accommodation
    • Sky Tower admission in Auckland
    • Auckland City guided tour and dinner cruise
    • "The Northern Explorer" rail journey to Waitomo and Wellington from Auckland
    • Guided tour of Waitomo glowworm caves
    • 3 days car rental for self-drive adventures
    • Weta Workshop experience
    • "The Coastal Pacific" rail journey to Christchurch, and more

    Explore New Zealand's natural wonders, history, and attractions by train with time to relax and savor the amazing surroundings. Save up to 32% off full retail value.

    Board this iconic rail journey in New Zealand
    Board this iconic rail journey in New Zealand

    FULL RETAIL VALUE: $5,833pp. YOU PAY FROM $3,899, SAVE UP TO $1,834pp.

    BOOKING ENQUIRY

    Trip Highlights

    From Auckland on the North Island to Christchurch we travel mainly by train to experience New Zealand differently. The Northern Explorer travels from Auckland to Wellington. We stop for a few days in Waitomo to do some exploring, then hop back on the train to Wellington for a stay. Then we continue to the South Island via the Interislander to Picton. The Coastal Pacific train takes us to Kaikoura, followed by the garden city of Christchurch. Very enjoyable and perfectly organised; What are you waiting for? Enquire today.

    Trip Highlights: *

    • Soak in Auckland's skyline from Mount Victoria's summit
    • Visit Waikehe Island
    • Embark on iconic rail adventures: "The Northern Explorer," "Coastal Pacific," and (optionally) "The TranzAlpine"
    • Marvel at the enchanting Waitomo glowworm caves
    • Dive into the creative world of Weta Workshop in Wellington.
    • Cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry.
    • Immerse yourself in guided tours and optional activities
    • Enjoy hand-picked, top-class accommodation

    * See the full itinerary for details. Package prices vary by season and departure city. Inclusions are subject to availability. Contact Australian Escapes for the most up-to-date information.

    Global Escapes Travel

    In the style of most Global Escapes Independent Traveler itineraries, this is a perfect blend of self-guided adventure and forward-planning to ensure that the main elements are organised in advance allowing for plenty of time to relax and take in each place you visit.

    Package Pricing

    FULL RETAIL VALUE

    $5,833pp

    SAVINGS APPLIED

    -$1,834

    YOU PAY FROM*

    $3,999

    SAVING OFF FULL RETAIL VALUE (UP TO): 31%

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    * All prices are per-person on a twin-share basis and bookings are subject to availability. The final price and deposit amount varies according to travel date. All prices are estimates only. A firm quote (travel plan) with payment terms will be submitted for consideration prior to agreement to proceed. Full booking terms and conditions are available HERE...

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    Inclusions

    "From the urban elegance of the North to the natural gold of the South, New Zealand's story unfolds in every cityscape and majestic landscape with classic rail travel taking you there."

    This represents the ultimate rail-focused itinerary from the North to the South Island. If you would prefer a shorter duration or to include a special activity, we'll tailor this plan for you, leveraging your membership for the most competitive prices.

    This is a first-class travel itinerary that's fully flexible. Want more or fewer days or you want to include a special destination or activity? No problem, we’ll customise a travel plan for you.

    You'll have the time of your life. Sit back, relax and take a look at this...

    Video link

    Click/tap to watch this short video and learn about the sights and beauty and that await you.

    Package inclusions:

    • Return flights from Australia (provision)
    • Hand-picked accommodation in Auckland, Waitomo, Wellington, Picton, Kaikoura and Christchurch
    • 4 nights Auckland
    • Sky Tower admission in Auckland
    • Auckland City guided tour and harbour dinner cruise
    • “Northern Explorer” rail journey from Auckland to Waitomo
    • 2 nights Waitomo
    • Guided tour of the mesmerizing Waitomo Glowworm Caves
    • “Northern Explorer” rail journey from Waitomo to Wellington
    • 3 nights Wellington
    • 3 days car rental from Wellington
    • Lord of the Rings Weta Workshop experience
    • Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton
    • 2 nights Picton
    • “Coastal Pacific” rail journey from Picton to Kaikoura
    • 3 nights Kaikoura
    • Kayaking experience in Kaikoura (or alternative activity if preferred)
    • “Coastal Pacific” rail journey from Kaikoura to Christchurch
    • 2 nights Christchurch
    • Christchurch hop-on hop-off tram tour with gondola ride
    • Return flight.

    2-day "Trans Alpine extension" at Greymouth from $499pp:

    • Board iconic “The Tranz Alpine" rail journey from Christchurch to Greymouth
    • Silver standard accommodation in Greymouth
    • Scenic bus trip back to Christchurch

    All packages include:

    • Lonely Planet guide for New Zealand
    • No fees to alter the itinerary (you just pay for the adjusted itinerary)
    • Extra nights at industry wholesale price (using GCash travel credits)
    • Google Drive folder with soft copies of all travel documents
    • Comprehensive, printed itinerary
    • Personal travel consultant to help plan and customize your holiday
    • Option for best-in-class travel insurance at member price

    Carefully selected accommodation:

    Hotel standards

    Read about our accommodation rating standards and the methods used to assess quality.

    Fully customisable:

    This itinerary is fully customisable to suit your requirements. Your personal travel consultant is available to discuss changes and additions that will enhance your travel experience.

    Special value:

    Lonely Planet Logo

    Lonely Planet is renowned for its first-hand approach, up-to-date maps and commitment to providing the best information for travelers. Lonely Planet authors are experienced, insightful travel experts. They personally research the places they write about - both in the first and in subsequent editions - and provide essential travel details along with a wealth of insider information and first-hand tips.

    New Zealand

    You will receive this guide to help you gain the most out of your holiday. Recommendation: Take the time to read suggestions for things to see and do before you leave home. Take your Lonely Planet guide with you in your luggage.


    * All prices are per-person on a twin-share basis and bookings are subject to availability. Price and deposit amount varies according to travel date. If flights are shown as included then a flight cost provision (allowance) applies and is based on travel from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Travel can be arranged from any other major centre and for any number of people. All prices shown are estimates only. A firm quote (travel plan) with payment terms will be submitted for consideration prior to agreement to proceed. Total price after member discount (using Getaway Cash travel credits and Australian Escapes Free Flights Vouchers if applicable) is generally payable as follows: Deposit on booking, balance 120 days prior to departure. Packages can be priced for families and groups on request. Standard price and full retail value comparisons are with similar packages offered elsewhere or what we estimate would be payable by a non-member for the same or similar package and may include a value we define for specialty travel agency services. Travel insurance if included is a provision only and may be declined on requestTravel insurance pricing if stated is based on comprehensive travel insurance for two travellers aged 69 years or less as at the date of departure from Australia. No recommendations or advice are given in regard to travel insurance suitability. Travel Directions Pty Ltd (t/as Australian Escapes Holiday & Travel Club) standard booking terms and conditions apply to all booking enquiries and bookings and are available here to view (or visit our website and go to either the "Booking Enquiry" or "About Us" menu item.)

    Your Itinerary

    We start in Auckland on the North Island, a vibrant city known for its harbors, museums, and multicultural atmosphere. From there we take the Northern Explorer train down to Wellington, New Zealand's capital stopping to explore the glowworm caves of Waitomo. Your journey continues to the South Island via the Interislander. Travel on the Coastal Pacific train to Kaikoura, a haven for marine wildlife enthusiasts. Then you travel by train again to the garden city of Christchurch which offers a blend of history and modernity.

    "It's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see." - Henry David Thoreau

    DAY 1: AUCKLAND ARRIVAL (3 NIGHTS)

    Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand’s "City of sails!" Auckland is known for its multicultural food, music, arts, and culture.


    Auckland's Sky Tower

    After checking into your hotel and depending on arrival during the day, start take a few minutes to set your sights on some things to see and do. Refer to your Lonely Planet guide before you arrive, and/or drop in to Auckland isite Visitor Information Centre at HSBC Building, Shop 1, Level 3/188 Quay Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.

    You can pick up a tourist map there and get advice on the best one or two things to see or do today. A visit the Sky Tower is included in this package; that will be a good start. Since its completion in 1997, the Sky Tower has become an iconic landmark on Auckland's skyline because of its height and design. Enjoy rest of the day to explore bustling Queen Street.

    DAY 2: AUCKLAND HIGHLIGHTS AND DINNER CRUISE

    Discover Auckland's key attractions on a 3-hour small-group city tour led by a knowledgeable guide. Travel across the iconic Harbour Bridge by mini-coach, exploring Queen Street, Ponsonby, Devonport’s Narrow Neck Beach, and the summit of Mt Victoria.


    Dinner cruise on Auckland Harbour

    In the evening, treat yourself to a 3-course dinner on Waitemata Harbour aboard a large sailing yacht from Viaduct Harbour and discover this wonderful city from the water. As the sun sets, relish a delectable dinner, taking in the city skyline. Your experienced captain provides entertaining commentary.

    DAY 3: LOTR OR VISIT WAIHEKE ISLAND

    If you are a Lord of The Rings fan, you could experience “Middle-earth” at the Hobbiton movie set. In the heart of the Waikato region, you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire, as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. We'll be delighted to arrange this activity for you. (Optional activity.)


    Waiheke Island

    We highly suggest Waiheke Island as a great day-trip destination. Located just a short ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island is renowned for its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, and thriving vineyards. Visitors can explore art galleries, embark on hiking trails, and enjoy a variety of cultural events. With its olive groves, cafés, and guided tours, Waiheke Island provides a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and culinary delights.

    DAY 4: NORTHERN EXPLORER TRAIN JOURNEY – WAITOMO (3 NIGHTS)

    Today, you'll be treated to some of the best scenery of rural New Zealand as you travel aboard the Northern Explorer scenic train journey down to Waitomo. Marvel at the lush landscapes, from the verdant pastures of Waikato to the crisp mountain streams of Ruapehu. Don't miss a single moment of this picturesque journey. Tune in to the audio commentary about the historic viaducts and the impressive Raurimu Spiral engineering feat.


    Board the iconic "Northern Explorer" rail journey

    Upon arrival at Waitomo, disembark and prepare to spend a couple of days enjoying this small piece of rural New Zealand.

    Note: The Northern Explorer runs each Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Three nights is required in Waitomo if travelling there on a Monday to pick up the train to Wellington on Thursday. Two nights is required if you travel to Waitomo on Thursday as you will go to Wellington on Saturday. If you will stay two nights in Waitomo, you can add a night in Auckland or Wellington if desired.

    DAY 5: WAITOMO GLOWWORM CAVES

    Embark on a 45-minute guided boat ride through the renowned Waitomo Glowworm Caves for an enchanting experience that will leave you in awe. Cruise through the underground labyrinth, where millions of tiny bioluminescent insects, known as 'Arachnocampa luminosa,' create a captivating light display.


    Waitomo Glowworm Cave

    Your small-group journey is not only a visual marvel but also an educational one as you learn about the science behind these mysterious glowing creatures. Explore the massive cave complex on foot, including the mesmerizing Glowworm Grotto resembling a virtual constellation above. Delve into Cathedral Cave and gain insights into the geology and history of this natural wonder. This once-in-a-lifetime experience offers a fantastic way to discover the exceptional natural beauty of New Zealand.

    DAY 6: WAITOMO

    Take a leisurely stroll around the charming village, soak in the tranquil ambiance, and marvel at the stunning landscapes. Head to the Waitomo i-SITE Visitor Information Centre for informative displays on the region's natural wonders. Or you can refer to your Lonely Planet guide for sightseeing suggestions.

    DAY 7: NORTHERN EXPLORER TRAIN JOURNEY – WELLINGTON (2 NIGHTS)

    Joining the Northern Explorer train once again, you will wave goodbye to this UNESCO World Heritage Site as you settle in for your trip to Wellington. Don’t get too comfortable though; dramatic rivers, gorges, and ravines are just around the bend! Stretch your legs and explore the open-air carriage to acquire the best views from the train.


    Meet new people

    As you glide through rich green farmland and past a dramatic coastline, indulge in afternoon tea whilst taking in the views. All too soon the train will arrive into Wellington leaving the picturesque Porirua Harbour behind you.

    After arriving at Wellington railway station pick up your rental car then head to your accommodation.

    The evening is free so you can take your time to explore this award-winning cultural and culinary capital from Queen's Wharf to Cuba Street and beyond.

    DAY 8: WETA WORKSHOP

    Experience the diverse facets of Weta Workshop's creativity with the Weta Workshop Experience, an immersive showcase of movie effects and props. From armor to weapons, creatures to costumes, and make-up to miniatures, the cave provides an in-depth journey into the world of movie magic.


    Weta workshop

    Explore iconic props and costumes from renowned films like The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Avatar, and District 9. Interact with fascinating items from creative departments and witness artists at work. Delve into the art of miniature effects used in hit TV and film productions, and wander through monumental miniatures from Thunderbirds Are Go, including entire islands, cityscapes, and mansions all under one roof.

    DAY 9: FREE DAY IN WELLINGTON

    Explore Wellington at your own pace with plenty of activities accessible by car. Begin with a scenic drive along the waterfront, capturing stunning views of the harbor, cityscape, and hills. Park your car and wander around the Beehive and Parliament Buildings, appreciating the architectural brilliance. Enjoy complimentary general admission to Te Papa, where you can delve into New Zealand's rich culture and history.


    Wellington

    Alternatively you can take a guided tour of Wairarapa, savoring local wine, olive oil, cheese, and beer. Enjoy a scenic drive through the Rimutaka Ranges with insightful commentary with wine-tastings and a delicious lunch at a local vineyard. Explore Martinborough's winemaking and viticulture in this flavorful journey from Wellington. (Optional activity.)

    DAY 10: JOURNEY TO THE SOUTH ISLAND – PICTON (2 NIGHTS)

    Say farewell to the North Island as you set sail on the Interislander ferry, crossing the scenic Cook Strait. Watch the shores of the North Island fade away. By midday, treat yourself to breathtaking harbor views as you enter the Queen Charlotte Sound, reaching the South Island's gateway, Picton.


    Interislander ferry

    Disembark at Picton and take a taxi to your accommodation where you will spend couple of days to begin your South Island adventure. A rental car is an option here as well.

    DAY 11: OPTIONAL MARLBOROUGH TOUR

    Indulge in the flavors of award-winning New Zealand wines and savor delectable chocolates at the Makana Boutique Chocolate Factory.


    Marlborough day tour

    Enjoy wine tastings and a gourmet lunch on this small-group tour. Sample aromatic sauvignon blancs, oak-barreled chardonnays, and dry Rieslings.

    DAY 12: COASTAL PACIFIC RAIL JOURNEY - KAIKOURA (2 NIGHTS)

    Your train leaves Picton in the early afternoon so this morning is an opportunity for exploration. Wander through local craft stores and scenic coastal walks in Picton or consider a visit to the Omaka Aviation Museum in Blenheim. Delight in waterfront cafes before boarding the Coastal Pacific train for an enchanting rail journey through the Marlborough Wine Region.


    "The Coastal Pacific"

    Enjoy the passing scenery as the train effortlessly glides you across secluded beaches, between mountains and the sea, on a timeless journey of genuine beauty. Keep a lookout for lazy fur seals basking on the rocks!

    Upon arrival in Kaikoura, the evening is yours to relish some iconic kai moana (seafood) at one of the charming restaurants.

    DAY 13: WILDLIFE SEA KAYAKING TOUR

    Discover the Kaikoura coast from a distinctive viewpoint, aboard a kayak. Glide through sheltered waters for an opportunity to encounter a variety of wildlife, potentially including dolphins, seals, and seasonal whale sightings.


    Kayaking tour in Kaikoura

    Ideal for nature enthusiasts, this half-day tour with small group sizes and a certified guide offers a unique chance to get close to some of New Zealand's iconic animals. Gain insights into local wildlife as you paddle at your own pace, receive kayaking tips from your guide, and explore the unspoiled coastline of Kaikoura through a marine reserve. (Other activities are available if preferred.)

    DAY 14: COASTAL PACIFIC RAIL JOURNEY - CHRISTCHURCH (2 NIGHTS)

    Resume your journey aboard the Coastal Pacific Train to Christchurch, aptly named "The Garden City." As the train meanders south through rolling hills and extensive plains, be enchanted by the spectacular scenery. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the serene journey with a glass of local wine.

    On arrival in Christchurch, make your way to your hotel by taxi. The rest of the night is for you to explore. Check your Lonely Planet guide for dining suggestions.

    DAY 15: CHRISTCHURCH IN A DAY

    Embark on the complete circuit of the Christchurch tramway, departing regularly and offering the flexibility to hop on and off at 17 stops to tailor your own sightseeing adventure. Engage with live commentary from drivers as you explore the evolving city center of Christchurch.


    Hop-on Hop-off in tram at Christchurch

    Elevate your experience with an aerial journey on the Christchurch Gondola to the Port Hills crater rim and Mt Cavendish summit. Experience the revamped summit complex, offering postcard-worthy views of the cityscape, Canterbury Plains, and Lyttelton Harbour. Witness the dramatically transformed cityscape of Christchurch, catch glimpses of the Southern Alps, Canterbury Plains, and Lyttelton Harbour, and explore the surrounding nature walks around the crater rim.

    DAY 16: RETURN TO AUSTRALIA

    Today your exploration of New Zealand comes to an end. At the appropriate time please make your way to the airport for your flight home. We hope the beauty and warm hospitality of New Zealand has inspired you.

    Not ready to leave New Zealand? Seize the chance to enhance your journey with an extra two-day rail; trip across the South Island. Hop aboard the famous and scenic TranzAlpine to Greymouth. Explore the town after arrival and spend the night. The following day, take a bus back to Christchurch before boarding your flight homeward. An extra night in Christchurch can be arranged if preferred.

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