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13 Day Rail Journeys Of New Zealand

This itinerary will be conducted at a relaxed pace. You will typically spend several nights at one location which means less time spent packing and unpacking, and more sightseeing. You will be required to move about unassisted, including getting on and off vehicles, walking up and down stairs and handling your own luggage.

Leisurely Pace

On these packages you will travel from city to city on your own, exploring at your own pace. We have arranged transportation in most cases and day tours for you to see the destination. Enjoy the time and flexibility to linger longer or pick up the pace and see as much as possible. The choice is yours.

Escorted Type

Take advantage of our 7 day cooling-off period. 

Cooling Off Period
7 Days
Independent Tour
779 people have travelled to this destination

✓ Incredible sightseeing, travel on the world’s most scenic rail journey, drive at your own pace through spectacular mountain and coastal sceneries of New Zealand’s South Island, explore Queenstown 
✓ Travel on board the TranzAlpine
✓ Cruise between Wellington and Picton on the Interislander scenic ferry
✓ 12 nights accommodation at 4 star hotels
✓ 3 Breakfasts
✓ 3 days Toyota Corolla car rental (automatic, unlimited kilometres)
✓ Enjoy the flexibility of independent travel

What we love about this tour

Travel with the experts for a carefully curated, value-packed discovery of the world's most iconic destinations. Our tours are bursting with must-see sights, rich experiences and quality inclusions, all at an unbeatable price. Bucket list dreams are ticked off on these all-encompassing journeys.


Peppers Beacon Queenstown or Similar

Welcome to Queenstown! On arrival, please make your way to the starting point hotel. After check-in, you can head out and explore town. 

Check in & arrival information.
Queenstown airport is located approximately 9kms from town. A taxi or Uber to your hotel should cost approximately NZD 35-40.

You can opt to increase your car rental to 6 days and collect your vehicle today at the airport. Please consider that traffic and parking in Queenstown can be troublesome - particularly in the warmer months. Car parking is available at the hotel at NZD 24 per day (payable directly to the hotel if required)

Hotel check in is at 2pm. Should you arrive earlier than this, hotel staff will do all possible to check you in as soon as possible. If your room is not available before check-in time, you are welcome to leave your luggage in storage and explore the surrounding area.

Peppers Beacon Queenstown or Similar

Today is at your leisure to do as little or as much as you want. With literally hundreds of activities to choose from, Queenstown will sure have something to offer you. From helicopter rides, to hiking, fishing, winery visits, cycling...cycling through wineries and so on you will find it hard to settle for just one of them.

Optional Tour - Milford Sound Day Tour

Travel by luxury coach 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. Travel 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 Gem of The South vessel for a spectacular cruise in New Zealand’s most famous waterway. Return by coach to Queenstown.
Picnic Lunch is included during your cruise today.

Optional Tour - Half Day Bike The Wineries Tour

This half day self-guided tour begins with an afternoon pick up from our shop at 9 Duke Street in central Queenstown and a scenic transfer to the Kawarau Suspension Bridge, the home of bungy and the beginning of the Gibbston Wine Region.

After bike fitting, helpful winery and trail information from your knowledgeable driver, you’re free to set off riding the Gibbston River Trail at your leisure using our informative trail map with exclusive offers to visit as many of the amazing wineries, a cheesery and brewery linked throughout this section of easy riding trail.

We will pick you up from the Gibbston Tavern (or another pre-arranged point in the valley) for your relaxing vehicle transfer back to Queenstown. Total biking distance is 5-12 kms depending on how many wineries you wish to visit.

Optional Tour - Wine & Food Sampler

This half day wine and food experience delivers an unforgettable taste of Central Otago’s wine region, showcasing its superb local produce. Your winery lunch consists of several tasting dishes each perfectly matched by the Chief Winemaker and Head Chef, using estate wines and fresh local produce. Enjoy wine tasting and presentations at 3 wineries, generally visiting one larger well-known winery and two boutique style wineries. An underground wine cave tour & tastings gives you inside information about our great wines and the Central Otago wine industry.

Peppers Beacon Queenstown or Similar

Today is free for you to explore Queenstown at your own pace.

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier or Similar

Today, collect your vehicle and start the driving portion of your holiday as you drive up the western coast of New Zealand. This trip tracks down the West Coast through the breathtaking Haast Pass and to Glacier country. Fox Glacier and Franz Josef allow you to see two glaciers in one day. The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are unique relics of the last ice age. Mighty rivers of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valleys, they are classically beautiful in the glacial sense. Nowhere else in the world have glaciers advanced so close to the sea at this latitude. 

This afternoon you may want to consider the below helicopter ride over Fox Glacier & Mount Cook.  This activity starts from the town of Fox Glacier, which is approximately 37km (45'-1hr drive) from the town Franz Josef  - your final destination tonight. These activities require a minimum of 3 travellers to run and are weather dependent. Your flight time may vary from 4pm this afternoon to 9am tomorrow morning.

On arrival in Franz Josef make your way to your hotel for check in and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Car Hire Pick Up.

Collect your car from Budget downtown office, located 68/70 Stanley Street. Phone: +64 3-442 9274)  from 8am to 12pm

Optional Tour - Fox Glacier & Mount Cook Helicopter Ride from Fox Glacier

Fly over the legendary Fox Glacier and snowfields and discover the crevasses and ice forms being exposed below you. Land in the snow above the icefalls of the glacier and experience the magnitude of the scenery surrounding you. Then let the impressive presence of Aoraki/Mount Cook amaze you as you explore its majestic west face, before descending into the valleys below.

Scenic Hotel Punakaiki (Superior Room) or Similar

Today continue driving north to Punakaiki and explore the Pancake Rocks and blowholes Punakaiki is famous for. 

Approximate driving distance: 222kms, 4hrs

Optional Tour - Twin Glacier Helicopter Ride from Franz Josef

Fly over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers and land at the head of either the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier. View the incredible natural phenomenon of the glacier as it winds slowly down the carved valleys from its origin in the mountains high above you.

Duration: 30 minutes

Rydges Latimer Christchurch or Similar

Start with an easy drive south until arriving in Greymouth. On arrival in Greymouth, drop your car before boarding the TransAlpine train to Christchurch.  Car hire depots are located next to the train station.

Considered one of the world's greatest train journeys, this journey you’ll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest.

The train has panoramic windows, open-air view carriage, a fully licenced cafe plus commentary allowing you to connect the scenery all around you.

On arrival in Christchurch, disembark your scenic train and make your way to your hotel. We recommend a short taxi service which can be found easily when exiting the station.

Approximate driving distance: 50km, 1.5hrs

Rydges Latimer Christchurch or Similar

Enjoy a free day at leisure to explore Christchurch at your own pace.

Optional Tour - City Sightseeing - Discover Christchurch Morning Tour

Experience the grand architecture, beautiful gardens and scenic view points on a half-day city tour of Christchurch.

The tour commences in the central city of Christchurch and covers the area which was completely devastated by the Christchurch earthquakes in February 2011. The guide will explain both the history of the city and the effects of the earthquake, you will see for yourself both the destructive powers of nature and the rebuild taking place. On leaving the inner city, the tour travels to Mona Vale a historic homestead and gardens. We then travel to the Sign of the Takahe, an historic building with a lookout providing spectacular views over the city, Canterbury Plains and to the Southern Alps. The tour then travels via the Port Hills and Lyttleton Harbour by way of the Sign of the Kiwi and Governors Bay to the Port of Lyttleton. The tour proceeds through the Lyttleton harbour tunnel to the seaside suburb of Sumner and cave rock before returning to the central city where the tour will conclude. 

This sightseeing tour of Christchurch offers complimentary pick ups and drop off anywhere within Christchurch City

Tour Duration: 3 hours

Optional Tour - Akaroa Day Tour Including Harbour Cruise and Lunch

Visit the beautiful unspoilt old French whaling depot of Akaroa. Stop at the Hill Top to experience panoramic views of Akaroa Harbour and visit the Cheese Factory at Barry’s Bay to sample some fine New Zealand cheeses. In the afternoon enjoy a 2 hour harbour cruise on the Canterbury Cat, sightseeing dolphins, penguins and seals.

Duration: This tour departs at 09.00am and returns at 05.00pm.

Inclusions: Hotel pick up and drop off; Harbour Cruise and lunch. 

Optional Tour - Tram Restaurant Four Course Dinner

Experience the luxury of our 36 seater air-conditioned, colonial style dining tram and be treated to the finest service, cuisine and beverages New Zealand has to offer. Incorporate fabulous dining with a sightseeing tour showcasing Christchurch’s inner city vibrancy and heritage – truly a mix of the old and the new. The Christchurch Tramway Restaurant dinner tour is a unique activity not to be missed.

Departs from Tram Stop 1 in Cathedral Junction at 7:00pm March - October and 7:30pm November - February

Includes: Welcome drink, four-course meal, tea or coffee, tram ride

Duration: 2.5 hours

Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay or Similar

A big day of stunning landscapes is ahead of you today. This morning, make your way to Christchurch intercity bus station and board your bus to Picton. A taxi ride from the hotel should cost approximately NZD 40. The bus ride to Picton takes approximately 4.5 hours

Upon arrival at Picton, make your way to the central wharf which is only metres away from the train stop (your luggage will be checked in from Christchurch through to Wellington) and board the Interislander ferry to Wellington. Connecting the North Island and South Island together since 1962, the Interislander ferry service is New Zealand's original Cook Strait ferry. Sailing between Picton and Wellington several times a day, the Interislander journey is considered one of the most beautiful ferry journeys in the world and one of New Zealand's most iconic experiences.

Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay or Similar

Enjoy a free day at leisure to explore Wellington at your own pace.

Optional Tour - Lord of the Rings Full Day Tour

Starting on Mt Victoria with a visit to the lookout then onto locations used in the Trilogy like the Outer Shire, Hobbiton Woods & Dunharrow. Then out to the Hutt Valley to Kaitoke Regional park, the location of Rivendell. Along the way visiting Isengard, Fords of Isen, the River Anduin and past the quarry where Helms Deep & Minas Tirith were filmed. The Full day tour also includes an Orc sized picnic lunch or café lunch plus a visit to the famous Weta Cave and now including the Weta Workshop tour.

Duration: This tour starts at 08.30am and returns at 04.30pm
tel pick up and drop off and lunch.

Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay or Similar

Today is free for you to continue to enjoy Wellington at leisure.

Nesuto Stadium Hotel and Apartments or Similar

Today make your way to the station for your train journey to Auckland. Sit back and relax as you take in the stunning scenery along the way.  On arrival in Auckland, please make your way to your centrally located hotel. 

Nesuto Stadium Hotel and Apartments or Similar

Today, enjoy Auckland at your own pace.

Optional Tour - Best of Both Worlds

Experience the best sights of Auckland City in the morning combined with an afternoon Wilderness Experience – a day of contrasts. See the best of New Zealand’s biggest city on an Auckland City highlights tour which includes Queen Street and the Harbour Bridge with its views of the harbour and yacht marina. See Mt Eden (360 degrees views) and the Domain, Parnell Village, Paratai Drive - the most exclusive homes in Auckland - and the waterfront. Continue on the Wilderness Experience tour and discover Auckland’s largest regional park, the Waitakere Ranges only 30kms from the city. Visit the Arataki Centre with its spectacular views of both coasts and magnificent Maori carvings. Continue to Black Sand Beach where the guide will explain local history, flora and fauna of the region, then visit a dense rainforest with giant tree ferns, Kauri trees and waterfalls before returning to Auckland.
Includes, pick up and drop off from your accommodation and light snacks.
Starts: 09.00am
Finishes: 17.30

Optional Tour - Auckland wine Country with Lunch

The wineries of Kumeu, West Auckland date back to the 1930s when wine families of Croatian origin established winemaking in the area.  These families are still living and working in the area today, making some of New Zealand's most renowned wines.  These vineyards contrast with the spectacular coastal scenery of the area.  Your first tasting is at award-winning Soljans Vineyard.  By skillfully marrying traditional with modern techniques, they produce stylish, richly flavoured wines.  Enjoy lunch at Soljans Winery restaurant which has been built with sunshine in mind and serves Mediterranean-style food with a New Zealand twist, showcasing fresh seasonal produce from around the region.  Next to tempt the taste buds is Coopers Creek, who offers an extensive range of wines for every unique taste and occasion.  Your journey then takes you to one of the few mainland gannet nesting sites in the world situated on the cliff-tops overlooking the Tasman Sea.  Here you get a close-up of gannet behaviour without disturbing their environment.  The views extend for miles along the wild, black, iron sand beach of Muriwai.  Your final tasting is at West Brook Winery.  The West Brook cellar door looks across an idyllic duck pond and terraced picnic area to row after row of vines.  The wines reflect true varietal character and their unique regional origins.

Duration: This tour departs at 12.30 Pm and returns at 05.15pm.
Inclusions: Hotel pick up and drop off and lunch. 

Today your Rail Journey of New Zealand tour comes to an end! At the appropriate time today make your way to the airport or continue your onward journey.

Alternatively, contact us if you wish to extend your stay in Auckland as we can help you make arrangements for additional accommodation. 

Check out & departure information.
A taxi or Uber from your hotel to Auckland costs approximately NZD 45-50 per car. Hotel check out is at 11am. You are welcome to leave your luggage in storage and explore the surrounding area if departing later.


TranzAlpine, between Greymouth and Christchurch

Scenic Class carriage experience combines comfort and panoramic views, making our trains the perfect way to explore New Zealand. 

At the heart of our Scenic Class experience are spacious reclined seats, panoramic windows, glass shelves and skylights. These details bathe our carriages in light and bring New Zealand's famous landscapes to your seat. 

Our Scenic Class carriages deliver extremely wide viewing angles by spacing the seating out. This spaciousness also creates generous amounts of legroom and comfort.

Driver License Requirements

All drivers must be 21 years old or over and hold a Full, current non probationary drivers licence (with an English translation shown on the driver licence) for their home country. If the licence is not issued fully (i.e. every single endorsement) in English, it must be accompanied by either an international driver permit or an approved translation. There is no maximum age for hiring a vehicle in New Zealand.

  • Additional Authorised Driver have to be registered on the rental agreement.

Each additional driver will cost $5+GST NZD per day up to a maximum of $25+GST NZD for the entire length of rental. Partner / Spouse (not restricted to marriages / relationships between individuals of any gender) are exempt from this fee.

All additional drivers must meet the above criteria 


A credit card issued in the renter’s name must be provided at time of collection. A minimum of $100 NZD pre-authorisation will be charged plus total value of any optional extras elected

Damage Excess Reduction

The excess amount can be reduced to NZD$350.00 +GST by purchasing Excess Reduction at commencement of the rental. Excess Reduction is NZD$25+GST per rental day.

Please Note: For Standard rates, $1400+GST will be charged if a windscreen (front or back) is cracked or broken that requires replacement. For Excess reduced (Inclusive) rates, the excess will be charged, Chip on windscreen will cost $60+GST 

Please Note: Cost of tyre replacement is not covered unless the Road Side Assistance is purchased at the counter.

Rates Include

Goods and Services Tax (GST), currently at 15%, Unlimited kilometres Standard Motor Vehicle Damage Waiver

Rates Exclude

NZD $150 One Way fee payable on collection,  Special Request Delivery Fees, Optional Extras (GPS, child safety seats, etc), Damage Excess Reduction, Fuel.  These above items are to be paid directly by the clients on car collection. Budget Standard Terms and Conditions can be found here

Fine Print

This product requires full payment upfront to secure your booking.

Once you have created your booking you will be directed to your invoice to choose your preferred payment method.

To enhance your journey, we are offering guests a choice of the following optional activities (prices are per person):

  • Milford Sound Day Tour (Day 2) - $259 per person
  • Half Day Bike The Wineries Tour (Day 2) - $84 per person
  • Wine & Food Sampler (Day 2) - $215 per person
  • Twin Glacier Helicopter Ride from Franz Josef (Day 5) - $419 per person
  • Fox Glacier & Mount Cook Helicopter Ride from Fox Glacier (Day 4) - $419 per person
  • City Sightseeing - Discover Christchurch Morning Tour (Day 7) - $87 per person
  • Akaroa Day Tour Including Harbour Cruise and Lunch (Day 7) - $304 per person
  • Tram Restaurant Four Course Dinner (Day 7) - $134 per person
  • Lord of the Rings Full Day Tour (Day 9) - $424 per person
  • Best of Both Worlds (Day 12) - $249 per person
  • Auckland wine Country with Lunch (Day 12) - $263 per person

Optional tours can be selected once you have finalised your tour purchase and paid your deposit. When completing your Passenger Booking Form, you will be asked if you would like to add Optional Tours, where any applicable cost will be added to your final balance. If you choose not to select them at this time, you can choose to add them later by logging in to your Account online.

Please note that you must select your Optional Tours no later than 70 days before departure, after which you will be required to purchase them on tour. Please keep in mind that anything purchased on-tour is subject to availability and prices may vary as you will be paying in local currency. We appreciate your understanding.

You can enhance your holiday by arriving or departing before or after the tour. On this tour you can choose from the following options:

Pre Tour Accommodation

  • $342.00 per room, per night for double and twin share
  • $342.00 per room, per night for solo travellers

Post Tour Accommodation

  • $233.00 per room, per night for double and twin share
  • $233.00 per room, per night for solo travellers

Please select the number of extra nights required in the 'Additional Nights Accommodation' field when making your purchase. The additional cost for these arrangements will be added to your final payment invoice and are subject to availability.

Fitness Requirements
While the tour itinerary should give you some guidance and overview to the expected requirements, to determine if this tour is right for you we categorise each of our tours in terms of their intensity. These guidelines are to ensure that each tour group is conducted as expected and to ensure the overall satisfaction of all Inspiring Vacations customers.

As a general rule, porterage is not included, therefore at all times you are expected to handle your own luggage where help may not be available.

This particular tour is categorised as a “2”.

2 – Leisurely Paced Tour: This itinerary will be conducted at a relaxed pace. You will typically spend several nights at one location which means less time spent packing and unpacking, and more sightseeing. You will be required to move about unassisted, including getting on and off vehicles, walking up and down stairs and handling your own luggage. While on this itineray you will need to be able to walk in and out of train stations (Adelaide & Melbourne) carrying your own luggage.

The accommodation listed is subject to change. Any changes will be of an equal or higher standard. Bedding configurations (double or twin) are requests only. All efforts will be made to meet your preferences, however any changes are beyond our control.

Single Supplement
Single supplement is $2,174.00 per person, in addition to the twin-share price.

Triple Share
Not available.

Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is recommended to protect yourself against the unexpected. In addition to the support that a policy may provide, you may be asked to present a copy of your travel insurance documentation while traveling.

Visa & Passport information
It is the traveller's responsibility to ensure they have a valid passport. The passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the intended date of return.

Visas may be required.

Please note that these details are subject to change without notice. We recommend visiting for up to date information in terms of entry requirements.

Children must be 5 years old or above and share a room with parents at all times. Children are charged the same price as adults.

Group Size
This package is made up of multiple components which will be provided by different operators throughout your trip. As such, group size will differ between operators and can be as intimate as 2 people or as lively as up to 60 people, depending on the activity and advertised inclusions. There may be unique cases where your selected travel date exceeds the expected group size for special events or types of activities, particularly during popular times of travel. For packages that include a train or cruise, you will be travelling with other passengers up to the capacity of this component.  

When travelling with a group, no matter the size, we ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. 

Bedding requests
We do our best to meet your bedding preference, however, bedding configurations (double or twin) are requests only and cannot be guaranteed. All efforts will be made to meet your preference, however, any changes are beyond our control and limited by the hotel facilities and availability.

Tour Styles - This package is an Independent style.
To meet the needs of various types of travellers, we choose to operate various types of tours and depending on your selected package will mean different services are provided throughout your trip. The following descriptions of each tour style we hope will ensure that each traveller has appropriate expectations before they start their travels: 

  • Independent - On these packages you will travel from city to city on your own, exploring at your own pace. We have arranged transportation in most cases and day tours for you to see the destination. Enjoy the time and flexibility to linger longer or pick up the pace and see as much as possible.
  • Partially Escorted - A portion of these packages runs as a group tour where you will be escorted by an expert tour leader. Another portion is independent, whether conducted by rail, cruise or land, and you will travel between destinations on your own, with free time to explore at your own pace.
  • Fully Escorted - This tour is fully escorted by an expert English-speaking guide who will accompany you throughout the tour.

Who is operating this package
We have partnered with a wide range of third party operators who assist in fulfilling your booking and delivering an enjoyable on-tour experience. Each package will consist of multiple operators meaning both guides and fellow travellers may change day to day. But don't worry, regardless of the operator, you'll be in good hands to experience the most out of each destination.

  • International Flights
  • Meals, unless stated in the itinerary
  • Parking
  • Personal expenses
  • Optional Activities
  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
Why book with us
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