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Any Experience with New Zealand and KiwiRail?


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#1 jis

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Posted 30 January 2017 - 06:37 PM

Looks like an opportunity will present itself later this year for me to spend 10 days to two weeks in New Zealand. Naturally, I would like to ride every possible train in New Zealand. Anyone with any New Zealand experience here?

 

I understand the Coastal Pacific between Picton and Christchurch is not running and is unlikely to run this year due to earthquake damage. The TranzAlipne is running from Christchurch, and the Northern Explorer is running between Auckland and Wellington. To the extent possible I would like to avoid renting a car, so I will also be looking for various bus routes and tours too, specially out of Auckland and Queenstown.

 

I am kind of jazzed about this one, if it all falls into place.



#2 Maglev

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Posted 30 January 2017 - 09:37 PM

I'm sorry, I can't help you with rail information--I spent three weeks in New Zealand in 1987, but traveled mostly by RV and an airlines pass.  We did take a train from Napier to Wellington, but that line no longer has service.  The coaches on that train were ancient!

 

The people down there are absolutely wonderful, and the scenery of both islands is fantastic.  You will have a wonderful trip! 


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#3 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 01:19 PM

Never been myself, but the scenery on the Northern Explorer looks very nice. Both Wellington and Auckland have regional rail to ride (apparently Auckland's is improving rapidly). Dress warm though, their heating, at least used to be, rather anemic, if you go during their colder season.

 

I heard that the people are friendly, the food good, but the ferry between islands can be nauseating.


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#4 jis

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 02:08 PM

Never been myself, but the scenery on the Northern Explorer looks very nice. Both Wellington and Auckland have regional rail to ride (apparently Auckland's is improving rapidly). Dress warm though, their heating, at least used to be, rather anemic, if you go during their colder season.

 

I heard that the people are friendly, the food good, but the ferry between islands can be nauseating.

I am going in what is their late fall/early summer. My friend who lives in Wellington, who is my primary reason to travel to NZ says it should be quite pleasant. Something like 63-67F max, 50-55F min in December. He also said that there will be no snow up at Arthur's Pass.

 

His recommendation is to do the TrazAlpine definitely, and the Northern Explorer if I want, but not critical. I will probably spend a lot of time on the Southern Island (Queenstown, Christchurch, and travel around a lot by bus in addition to the TranzAlpine. I will try to avoid renting a car if I can. Spend a weekend in Wellington and then spend several days in Auckland and the North Island before heading home from Auckland. At least that is how things are shaping up now.

 

There is a possibility that I might extend the trip by a week, skip over to Australia and ride the Indian Pacific, but I need to work out the budgetary issues about that.



#5 Bob Dylan

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 03:42 PM

Great trip jis,were envious!😎

And since you're so close to Australia, hope it works out to ride the Indian Pacific, that one is on my Bucket List for sure!
 
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#6 Gemuser

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 06:48 AM

I have ridden every public train in New Zealand, all three of them!

 

I rode the Northern Explorer south bound in 2009 and north bound in 2015. Be aware it now only runs 3 times a week in each direction. Its a full day and I enjoyed both trips a lot. Unfortunately the 3 a week schedule cuts out the long stop [about 45 mins] at National Park which was a nice break.

 

I have only ridden the Coastal Pacific south bound, that was a great trip for coastal scenery. Combined with the InterIslander from Wellington that was a fabulous trip. The cruise up the Marlborough Sounds is excellent. If the train is not running next spring/summer when you are there I am sure there will be a bus connection from Picton to Christchurch.

 

The Tranzalpine is good but most passengers seemed to take it only one way as it is a long day trip. If I remember correctly you have taken several trains through the Swiss Alps, don't expect too much from the South Island mountain scenery.

 

As you are going to Wellington make sure you take the Wairarapa Line train. You can do it as a full day wine tour if that interests you or just do an out and back as far as Featherston and visit the Fell Locomotive Museum. There were some crazy Englishmen in Victorian times and even crazier Kiwis. The Fells were very unlikely locos.

 

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#7 Long Train Runnin'

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 10:24 AM

Looks like an opportunity will present itself later this year for me to spend 10 days to two weeks in New Zealand. Naturally, I would like to ride every possible train in New Zealand. Anyone with any New Zealand experience here?

 

I understand the Coastal Pacific between Picton and Christchurch is not running and is unlikely to run this year due to earthquake damage. The TranzAlipne is running from Christchurch, and the Northern Explorer is running between Auckland and Wellington. To the extent possible I would like to avoid renting a car, so I will also be looking for various bus routes and tours too, specially out of Auckland and Queenstown.

 

I am kind of jazzed about this one, if it all falls into place.

 

Not yet I will be down there in April. I am working on making sure I can get some rail in down there. Although it will probably be along the lines of a day trip. 


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