A tourist with time in New Zealand should certainly consider train travel as a scenic way to pass through the country. Although the rail network is slow and aging, it passes through some fantastic countryside in the reasonably straight line it makes from point to point. The three main New Zealand train trips would be the TransCoastal, the Transalpine and — the topic of this article — the Overlander. Each journey is fairly priced and very enjoyable.
The Overlander is by no means the fastest mode of transport between Auckland and Wellington. It takes 12 hours, while driving will take around 8 and flying less than 2! However you don’t have to go through airport security to jump on a train and you don’t have to navigate the country’s winding roads.
The last section of the train carriage houses a semi-circular lounge with large windows, perfect for site-seeing and taking in the various landscapes. This makes it easy to film and photograph things and shows the real value of train travel in New Zealand: tourism. As it’s too slow for business travellers, its use as a sightseeing tour vehicle is both highlighted and optimised for. In many ways, this is a wise move although most New Zealanders would be happy to see faster connections on more modernised rails.
While both food and drink are available on all long-haul kiwi trains, you can also book your ticket in such a way to make use of stops (and real restaurants and hotels) along the way. The Overlander stops in small and interesting towns between Auckland and Wellington and, with a little forsight, can provide a great stop-over experience.
Friendly staff and fellow passengers are to be expected when travelling by train in New Zealand. Expect to see wonderful views … in a very slow fashion. Travelling New Zealand is a real treat, and journeys like the Overlander make it all that more special.
Tags: new zealand train travel, new zealand travel, railway, train travel, Vacations
December 19 2009 06:47 am | Vacations