New Zealand is one of the world’s most magical destinations. And we’re not just saying that as diehard Lord of the Rings fans. It really does feel like a dreamscape brought to life, with wild and untamed mountain ranges, smoking volcanoes, sun-dappled vineyards, mirror lakes that reflect the sky, and lookouts that are worth however long it takes to reach them and then some.
If you really want to experience the best of New Zealand though, you’ve got to side step that boarding gate, bypass the rental cars, and just make your way to the nearest train station.
Rail travel is where the magic happens. With that in mind, there are three iconic New Zealand rail journeys you really need to experience: Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine.
Want to know why you should? Here are five very good reasons:
1. The scenery comes to you
From sacred Cape Reinga in the north to the rugged cliffs of Slope Point in the very south, New Zealand boasts some of the most captivating landscapes on earth. Think sandy beaches and jewel-like islands, deep fjords, rugged volcanic mountains, farmland dotted with wooly clouds of white (sheep), ancient rainforest and everything in between. Each step has the potential to take your breath away. Or, you can simply kick back on this rail trip and let the scenery come to you! Trains also take routes that cars often can’t access, meaning you get a more exclusive view.
2. The journey is as important as the destination
When thinking back on past travels, some of the greatest memories happen while you’re simply getting from A to B. It’s when the anticipation and excitement builds, you get to spend quality time with the people you’re travelling with, and maybe bury your head in a good book. On a rail trip, that spirit of adventure is dialled up to the next level. Plus, you can get up and move your legs, socialise with your fellow guests, or simply lose yourself in the ever-changing view.
3. It takes the guess work out of planning
There are two types of people in this world: those who will happily research for days/weeks to plan the perfect itinerary, and those who just want to go along for the ride. Rail travel offers the best of both worlds, with a clearly defined itinerary (thanks to those two little rails of steel that keep you on track) plus opportunities to plan what to see and do in each stop along the way.
4. It’s comfortable, cost effective and convenient
Rather than spending hours waiting at an airport (or for your bags to be thrown off the plane), rail trips let you dive straight into the fun. Fewer queues, shorter wait times, and a whole lot more legroom all combine to create a more comfortable and convenient way to travel.
5. It’s easier on the planet
It’s widely agreed that the carbon emissions from rail are considerably lower than both road and air travel. That means that while you’re scooting through the Tongariro National Park aboard the Northern Explorer or making your way across the Waimakariri River on the TranzAlpine instead of driving, you can be happy in the knowledge you’re doing something positive for the planet.
Want to experience the magic for yourself? Browse our range of New Zealand tours here.