New Zealand is home to some of the most memorable scenic train journeys in the world. These are just three of them. Be it a long or short journey, each is meant to amaze the visitor.
The TranzAlpine scenic train journeys between Christchurch and Greymouth. From the comfort of the carriages, see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. The train then climbs into the majestic Southern Alps to Arthurs Pass National Park. It then descends through lush beech rainforest to the West Coast town of Greymouth. This town is a great base for visits to Punakaiki (pancake rocks) and the always popular glaciers. Enjoy all this in the comfort of carriages featuring hugh panoramic windows. There is also an onboard cafe with a range of delicious Kiwi flavors, and GPS triggered at-seat audio commentary.
The Coastal Pacific was recently closed for significant maintenance to the track. I just receive the announcement that is is finally opened for business. The train is a fantastic way to journey between Picton and Christchurch and is one of the most scenic train trips in the world. The route runs along the Pacific coast, just meters from the lapping aqua surf and the snowcapped Kaikoura mountain ranges filing the panoramic windows to the west.
The train is operated by Great Journeys of New Zealand - and that it is!
Taieri Gorge Rail
Dunedin Railways, best known for its world famous Taieri Gorge Rail journey, specializes in beautiful scenic train trips in the Otago region of the South Island. In fact, there is no better way to explore the beautiful Dunedin and Otago countryside than from the comfort of a train. Sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.
The Taieri Gorge Railway and the Seasider rail journey are both considered highlights in New Zealand's rail network and offer scenic and panoramic views of the changing scenery. They both depart from the historic Dunedin Rail Station, another photo opportunity.
Before humans arrived, New Zealand was a world of birds and plants. Here you will find some of the world's most unique birdlife. Unique wildlife encounters and natural spectacles are two of New Zealand's biggest attractions.
Within the space of one day, you can experience ancient forests, volcanic landscapes, mountain vistas and stunning coastlines all while spotting New Zealand wildlife found nowhere else on earth.
Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park
If you want to see Kiwi up close, then a visit to Otorohanga Kiwi House is the place to go. The not-for-profit wildlife and conservation center has been breeding Kiwi since 1971. The birds are on display all day in the special nocturnal houses. It also breeds rare and endangered native New Zealand Wildlife.
The family-friendly park offers Kiwi viewing of two of New Zealand's species - Great Spotted Kiwi and Brown Kiwi. The park also has ponds, wetland areas and walk-through aviaries including a giant dome aviary.
Whale Watch Kaikoura
The picturesque coastal town of Kaikoura, located on the South Island, is the perfect place for marine life encounters and coastal walks. An easy two-hour drive north of Christchurch, Kaikoura makes for a great day trip or a fun stop.
New Zealand's leading whale watching company offers an exciting up-close encounter with the world's largest toothed predator, the Giant Sperm Whale, in their natural environment at all times of the year. On a typical encounter, you'll see New Zealand fur seals, pods of Dusky dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season, you may also see migrating Humpback whales, Pilot whales, Blue whales and Southern Right whales.
Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience
Located in Wellington on the North Island, Zealandia is a self-contained mainland island. The Sanctuary is a unique eco-sanctuary for New Zealand's native wildlife. Here the rare species are living wild within one square mile of regenerating forest. The area is surrounded by a ground-breaking pest-proof fence.
You can choose from 32 kilometers of track to spot Kara, the playful forest parrot, tuatara, a reptilian living fossil, saddleback, hihi falcon, takahe, weta, tui, and many more. For a real treat, it is suggested that visitors book a night tour to seek out the iconic spotted Kiwi and other nocturnal creatures.
Since my first trip to Australia in 1998, I have returned to the South Pacific over 30 times. On each visit I meet with hoteliers, tour companies, car companies, cruise companies and other suppliers in the region. With this knowledge, I am able to answer your questions and assist you in planning the memorable vacation of your dreams.