15 Days New Zealand Highlights Tour
An epic guided rail adventure

Auckland > Ohakune > Wellington > Blenheim > Kaikoura > Christchurch > Punakaiki > Franz Josef > Queenstown

Take a captivating 15-day guided tour through the heart and soul of New Zealand, exploring both hidden gems and vibrant urban hubs via three renowned scenic rail journeys. Ideal for those seeking a mix of guided tours and the freedom to craft their own adventures, this highlights tour offers the perfect balance.

From green pastures to icy mountain streams, glaciers to volcanic peaks, historic towns to harbour cities, there are many off-the-beaten-track wonders and lively urban centres to explore. With three world-famous scenic rail experiences, you’ll witness the country’s diverse landscapes unfold. Share this guided 15-day journey with fellow explorers, beginning in Auckland and culminating in the picturesque Queenstown.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Explore Auckland
Join your fellow travellers and Tour Director for a welcome reception in the evening, which includes a complimentary drink on arrival.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: None
Activities: Welcome Reception

Day 2: Auckland to Ohakune
Marvel at rural New Zealand’s lush landscapes from the comfort of your seat onboard the Northern Explorer scenic train journey. From the green pastures of the Waikato to the icy mountain streams of Ruapehu, you won’t want to miss a moment.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
Activities: Northern Explorer Train

Day 3: Ohakune – Volcanic Plateau
Free day for you to discover one of the region’s many exciting excursions. Choose from the optional activities on offer such as a horse trekking experience or an exciting rail cart journey. If you’re after an active day, you can explore Ohakune’s historical cycle trail.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
Activities: Optional Tours

Day 4: Ohakune to Wellington
After breakfast, we begin our day by travelling from National Park to Mt. Ruapehu. You won’t want to leave this mini excursion to Middle Earth without a panoramic photo in hand! Arriving at Wellington Railway Station, you are just a stone’s throw from downtown, the Beehive, and Parliament Buildings.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast & Afternoon tea on Train
Activities: Northern Explorer Train & mini excursion to Middle Earth

Day 5: Explore Wellington
Free day to experience vibrant Wellington as you please. Start by joining our Wellington City introduction tour and then head off to explore Wellington at your own pace for some coffee, historic buildings, botanic gardens, and eco-sanctuaries.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Activities: City Tour & Optional Tours

Day 6: Wellington to Blenheim
This morning you will sail to the South Island, crossing the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Around midday, you will be spoiled with captivating harbour views as you enter the Queen Charlotte Sound. Upon arrival in Picton, you will experience a tasty Marlborough Wine Tour.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
Activities: Cook Strait Ferry Crossing & Marlborough Wine Tour

Day 7: Blenheim to Kaikoura
After enjoying breakfast, the morning is yours to explore at leisure. Step aboard the Coastal Pacific scenic train journey as you travel along the rugged coastline for a timeless voyage of breathtaking beauty. Upon arrival in Kaikoura, the evening is yours to visit local restaurants and try their famous seafood.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
Activities: Coastal Pacific Train & free evening time to explore Kaikoura

Day 8: Kaikoura to Christchurch
Choose from a range of optional tours such as the iconic whale watching cruise or experience an aerial flight to capture the true grandeur of it all. In the afternoon, you will step aboard the Coastal Pacific enroute for Christchurch.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner on train
Activities: Coastal Pacific Train

Day 9: Explore Christchurch
Enjoy your free time to explore Christchurch, which can be best discovered by jumping on the historic tram. If you are in the mood for something different, set off for Akaroa, an ‘incroyable’ French coastal settlement just an hour and half from the city centre. Dinner awaits as you join your fellow travellers for a group dinner to discover the places you have discovered.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Activities: Christchurch Tram City Tour

Day 10: Christchurch to Punakaiki
Experience the world-famous TranzAlpine scenic train journey through the Southern Alps, emerging in the West Coast. On this fantastic escape, you will see epic vistas, soar on the edges of the ice fed Waimakariri River, traverse through the Great Divide, and experience ever-changing landscapes. Once you arrive at the West Coast, a private coach will take you even further off the beaten track to Punakaiki, where you will explore curious limestone rock formations and blowholes.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
Activities: TranzAlpine Train & Punakaiki Pancake Rock Exursion

Day 11: Punakaiki to Franz Josef
This morning you’ll start your West Coast adventure by visiting one of the South Island’s most popular activities– the West Coast Tree Top Walk. This elevated adventure will get you acquainted with the locals – the ancient Rimu and Kamahi trees.
Continue to Franz Josef where you can join a short walk to a viewpoint for a fantastic view of the vast valley. This afternoon you will have the chance to join any optional tours including getting up close to the giant glaciers.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
Activities: West Coast Tree Top Walk & Short Nature Walk to Glacier Viewing Point

Day 12: Franz Josef to Queenstown
Today you will be exploring the mountainous Haast Pass. With changing landscapes around every bend, this journey to Queenstown will be one of the most scenic drives you may ever take. Emerging on the other side of the pass, explore a local fruit hotspot before exploring the cobblestone streets of the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
Activities: Journey through Haast Pass, Mrs Jones Fruit Stall & Arrowtown visit

Day 13: Explore Queenstown
Enjoy a free day to explore everything Queenstown has to offer. We highly recommend you join a Milford Sound excursion. Milford Sounds/ Piopiotahi is a scenic escape approximately three hours from Queenstown. The natural landscape will engulf you as you waltz through plunging valleys and towering peaks.
Free evening to indulge in Queenstown’s exciting nightlife.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
Activities: Optional Tours to Milford Sound and or TSS Earnslaw Steamship

Day 14: Explore Queenstown
Queenstown truly has something for everyone. Personalise your day to be as active or relaxed as you’d like. Whether it’s exploring Walter Peak on a horse trekking adventure, joining the historic steamship across Lake Wakatipu or sipping wine in Gibbston Valley, there is no shortage of activities.
The evening is your ‘final hurrah’ as you enjoy a farewell dinner.
Accommodation: 3.5 – 4 Star Hotel
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Activities: Optional Tours & Farewell Dinner

Day 15: Depart Queenstown
Your journey will end after enjoying a final breakfast with your fellow travellers. A departure airport transfer to Queenstown Airport is included.
Meals: Breakfast
Activities: Airport Transfer

Tour Inclusions
  • 14 nights of classic accommodation (3-4 star hotels)
  • 14 breakfasts & 4 dinners
  • Experienced Tour Director
  • Private Transport by Coach & Shuttles
  • Group with a max 35 guests
  • Northern Explorer Train from Auckland to Wellington
  • Cook Strait Ferry from Wellington to Picton
  • Coastal Pacific Train from Blenheim to Christchurch
  • TranzAlpine Train from Christchurch to Greymouth
  • Encounter the volcanic peaks of Middle Earth
  • Wellington & Christchurch City Tours
  • Marlborough wine experience
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes Walk
  • West Coast Tree Top Walk
  • Journey through Haast Pass
  • Free time and optional excursions
Departure Dates

23 Feb 2024 – 08 Mar 2024
01 Mar 2024 – 15 Mar 2024
22 Mar 2024 – 05 Apr 2024
05 Apr 2024 – 19 Apr 2024
19 Apr 2024 – 03 May 2024

Terms and Conditions

Pricing featured is based on per person twin share and priced in Australian Dollars. Pricing is correct at the time of submission but is subject to change without notice.

Valid for travel on select departure dates from Oct 2023 to May 2024.

Valid for sale until 31 Dec 2023 unless sold out prior. A non-refundable deposit of 20% is required at time of booking. Final balance is due 60 days prior to departure date. Single supplement is available for a surcharge and can be quoted by ANZCRO at time of enquiry.

All guided tours are subject to operational capabilities and itinerary changes due to train track maintenance and weather conditions.

No flights or arrival airport transfers are included.

This tour is operated by Great Journeys of New Zealand and their conditions and policies apply.

Itinerary Map

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