The TranzAlpine train runs from Christchuch on the south island's east coast to Greymouth on the west coast, and is often regarded as one of the world's most scenic train rides. You'll ride through constantly changing landscapes, starting off in the rolling Canterbury plains outside of Christchurch. Expect to see stunning sites like the snow-capped mountains in Arthur's Pass National Park, Waimakariri Valley and a tunnel that is over five miles long.
Your ride should last approximately four and a half hours and will take you across nearly 140 miles of New Zealand's landscape, through 16 tunnels and 5 viaducts.
The TranzCoastal takes you from Christchurch up along the south island's east coast, stopping at points of interest like Kaikoura and Blenheim along the way. Your final destination is Picton, where you can choose to hop aboard a ferry to Wellington on the north island. Throughout the journey you'll enjoy scenic mountains on your left and the pacific ocean to your right while traveling over 175 bridges and through 22 tunnels. (reference 2)
Stop in Kaikoura for a variety of top-notch encounters with marine life. You can spot fur seals and penguins, go whale or dolphin watching, and swim with dolphins. Consider sampling some of the area's famous seafood. A direct journey from Christchurch to Picton will take you a little over five hours. (reference 2)
The Overlander is New Zealand's north island's only scenic railway. It takes you from Auckland in the north all the way to Wellington in the south on a 12-hour journey through lush forests, mountains and volcanic landscape. The train offers panoramic windows and outdoor viewing platforms so you can take in the scenery. Expect especially great views of Tongariro National Park and its three volcanic mountains: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.
Popular stops along the way include Waitomo. Your voyage will take you through the Raurimu Spiral, a feat of modern engineering in which the track spirals and drops 700 feet in four miles.
All trips mentioned are through TranzScenic. They can be reached at:
011 (+64) 4 495 0775
0800 277 482