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Train Network in New Zealand

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New Zealand’s Railway services.

Are you a bit of a train fiend like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory? Aren’t we all. New Zealand is not the most connected country when it comes to railways. However, it has 3 unforgettable scenic journeys connecting you from Auckland to Christchurch and Greymouth in the South Island. These routes are operated by Kiwi Rail, where you can book stopovers along the way if you want to hop off the train for a few days.

As for the rest of railway services, trains are limited to commuting in the Auckland and Wellington regions.

Why take the train?

With so many other transport options like flying, bus, car and camper van, what are the advantages of taking the train?

  • Take photos on the move – on the long scenic journeys with KiwiRail the non-tinted and non-refection oversized windows are easy to take photos through. There are also sky view windows. Plus, there’s an open air carriage.
  • See different scenery to what you get on the roads and the sky.
  • Get food from the cafe on board – although this means you have limited choice of food and drinks, at least you can easily get emergency supplies.
  • Get commentary triggered by GPS with KiwiRail journeys.
  • Quicker than a bus.
  • You can stretch your legs on a train.
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The Northern Explorer (Auckland – Wellington)

All aboard The Northern Explorer! This scenic rail journey goes through the heart of the North Island. The journey is between Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, and the capital city Wellington.

The train goes through volcanic lands and ascends up the Raurimu Spiral, a feet in engineering overcoming steep hills. It also takes you through farmland and forest areas.

The stops along the way are:

  • Auckland
  • Papakura
  • Hamilton
  • Otorohanga
  • National Park
  • Ohakune
  • Palmerston North
  • Paraparaumu
  • Wellington

Trains operate from Auckland to Wellington on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. From Wellington to Auckland on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sunday. Prices start from NZ$99.

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The Coastal Pacific (Picton – Christchurch)

The Coastal Pacific train runs from Picton, where the ferries get in from the North Island and close to the Marlborough Sounds. It passes through the wine growing fields to stop at Blenheim, then down the coast filled with wildlife to Kaikoura. The final destination is Christchurch, a regrowing city. Unfortunately, this train service only runs through the peak season from September – May.

Stops include:

  • Picton
  • Seddon
  • Kaikoura
  • Mina
  • Waipara
  • Rangiora
  • Christchurch

Prices start from NZ$79.

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The TranzAlpine (Christchurch – Greymouth)

One of the most scenic train journeys in the world, the TranzAlpine train goes though the magnificent Arthur’s Pass. See the river gorges and and vast valleys of the Southern Alps. Going towards the coastal town of Greymouth, the TranzAlpine captures views of lush rain forests.

Stops along the way are:

  • Christchruch
  • Rolleston
  • Darfield
  • Springfield
  • Cass
  • Arthurs Pass
  • Otira
  • Jacksons
  • Moana
  • Kokiri
  • Greymouth

Prices start from NZ$99.

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Suburban commuter trains

In the larger cities of New Zealand, there are commuter trains taking passengers to the outer suburbs.

Auckland

Run by Auckland Transport, 5 train lines go to the outer suburbs of Auckland. The lines are Western, Southern, Eastern, Onehunga and Manukau. If you are using these lines regularly, it is worth getting an AT HOP card, where you load money onto the card in advance and save 20% on fares.

Wellington

Metlink controls the train services on Wellington’s train lines: Johnsonville, Melling, Kapiti, Hutt and Wairarapa. Keep the train in mind when travelling to Masterson, which is on the Wairarapa line. It is cheaper (and more pleasant) than getting the bus.

Other transport methods for travelling in New Zealand.

There are many other great ways to see New Zealand.

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