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Rail Travel

New Zealand - Rail Travel

It is possible to navigate almost the whole country using the New Zealand rail service. There are local journeys for those who a looking to make short trips and long distance services which join all the major cities. You can take a ferry between the two big islands so that you can continue your tour top to toe of New Zealand if you wish. If you do plan to travel to the southern region of the South Island then trains will only take you so far. You will need to use alternative methods of transport to continue your journey.

The Overlander train will take you between Auckland and Wellington and back. It is one of the most scenic rail journeys in New Zealand with the opportunity to see volcanos and farmland and some amazing river gorges. The train has panoramic windows to make viewing easier and there is a buffet car where you can buy light meals and snacks. The journey takes around 12 hours.

You can travel between Christchurch and Picton on the TranzCoastal train. There is an open air viewing carriage where you can enjoy the sights such as the pacific coastline and even catch a glimpse of penguins and seals. Again there is a buffet car serving light meals and snacks. The journey takes round 5 and a quarter hours.

The TranzAlpine train operates the route between Christchurch and Greymouth. The open air viewing carriage will afford you good views of the rain forests on the west coast and the stunning river gorges. The TranzAlpine has a buffet car serving snacks and light meals. This is around a 4 and a half hour journey.

If you want to use the train to travel around your local area then this is possible although some regions such as Christchurch do not have commuter passenger train services. Some of the long distance train services have stops along their route where passengers can get on or off as they please.

You can purchase a scenic rail pass for use on the TranzScenic rail network around New Zealand. With the rail pass you can hop on and off the route whenever you like to, you can pick and choose your own route and travel as often as you like during the validity period of the pass. There are three passes available, two valid for 7 days and one for 14 days. One of the 7 day passes and the 14 day pass also includes one ferry journey which means you can travel from the North Island to the South Island (or vice versa) once and it is included in the price, however if you are making a return journey on the ferry you will need to pay extra for the ferry ticket on the return trip. Using the rail pass gives you more flexibility and offers great savings as well.

All the trains are air conditioned and are very easy to book. You can book online, over the phone or at a local ticket office. Advance reservations are encouraged particularly during peak travel times. Train travel in New Zealand is accessible for all. If you require further assistance due to mobility issues or disability then this is available on all services. Advising staff when booking will ensure any additional aids you might need are ready for your arrival.

There are currently no underground rail systems in Australia although there are plans for a system in Auckland which are being reviewed.

It should be noted that there has been disruption to the rail network in recent months due to the country suffering several earthquakes (2011). If you are planning to travel by rail it is wise to contact the rail companies in advance to ensure the routes you wish to take are still operational, or if the service has been suspended temporarily when it will resume.

Useful Resources

Rail New Zealand
Tel: 0800 250 000 in NZ
Tel: + 64 3 341 2698
Email: info@railnewzealand.com

Wellington Travel Centre
Railway Station
Bunny Street
Central City
Tel: 0800 TRAINS (0800 872 467) in NZ
Tel: +64 4 495 0775 from other countries
Email: bookings@tranzscenic.co.nz

Christchurch Travel Centre
Railway Station
Troup Drive
Tel: 0800 TRAINS (0800 872 467) in NZ
Tel: +64 4 495 0775 from other countries

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

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