New Zealand’s KiwiRail passenger system targets visitors with three trains operated mainly for their scenic values rather than as routine transportation. All three trains use coaches designed specifically for sightseeing:
- The Northern Explorer travels the 11-hour daytime run between Auckland and Wellington in the North Island three times weekly.
- The Coastal Pacific runs a five-hour daylight trip between Picton (a short ferry trip from Wellington) to Christchurch on the South Island daily during the summer season, October through April.
- The TranzAlpine operates a 10-hour daylight round-trip from Christchurch through the mountains to Greymouth, on the Tasman Sea.
KiwiRail Scenic Journey Rail Passes are available for summer-season travel, Sept. 25 through May 1, in two forms:
- Fixed passes for travel on every day over a 7-, 14-, or 21-day period.
- Freedom passes for travel on a limited number of days during the summer season.
Prices start at $NZ599 (about $US362) for seven continuous days of travel and $NZ417 for three days during the season. See kiwirailscenic.co.nz/scenic-rail-pass for more information.
— Ed Perkins, editor