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“Lovely way to see the North Island countryside”

Northern Explorer Train
Ranked #16 of 233 things to do in Wellington
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: KiwiRail Scenic is New Zealand's only long distance passenger train network. We take passengers across New Zealand in comfort and style through some of the most scenic areas of the North and South Islands. It is an experience not just a journey. The Northern Explorer between Auckland & Wellington is a unique journey through the heart of the North Island, through an array of changing landscapes of sea coasts, farmlands, river viaducts and the central volcanic plateau. The service operates a 6 day timetable, departing Auckland on Monday, Thursday and Saturday and Wellington on Tuesday, Friday & Sunday.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Lismore, Australia
Level Contributor
84 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Lovely way to see the North Island countryside”
Reviewed 5 August 2014

We travelled from Wellington to Hamilton during spring, and absolutely loved it. Our son is a train nut so he was champing at the bit to get on board for the early morning start. We had a booth for four with very comfortable seating and huge windows to drink in the passing views. There was plenty of storage and room to stay comfortable all day. A good variety of food was available, and very reasonably priced. The staff were probably the highlight of the trip - so friendly and willing to simply stop and have a chat, as well as being very attentive to the kids. The open-air car is a great feature and provides plenty of photo opportunities. There is also a lounge car which is a nice place to go and stretch out for a quiet nanna-nap mid journey (one doesn't want to wear oneself out so its important to rest !). We arrived on-time in Hamilton on time - the journey was a great start to our North Island trip.

Visited October 2013
1 Thank Rilee0211
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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356 reviews from our community

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Harvard, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
22 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“What a train ride!”
Reviewed 2 August 2014

I just took the Auckland to Wellington Northern Explorer train trip. The 7:50 departure from the Britomart CBD Auckland Station was very smooth. (Tip - Buy snacks the day before because Auckland is a little sleepy on a Saturday morning). Greeted by the local team, dropped the bag off at the luggage car, and found my window seat in Car A. It is a small train, 5 cars total with a open viewing car behind the engine and a cafe car in the middle. Big roomy seats, huge windows and best of all, an audio narrative of the trip with history and local knowledge. Arrived in Wellington early at 6:10pm. Great way to traverse the North Island.

Visited August 2014
4 Thank sgmharvard1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
18 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 July 2014

What a great way to spend a day. The trip to Wellington took 11.5 hours - we lost an hour due to mechanical problems but that was ok as it just prolonged the experience!. The carriages were super comfy, the commentary interesting and the view just amazing. Make sure you spend time in the open carriage to really get a feel for the environment.

Visited July 2014
Thank Trueblue152
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
25 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Absolutely outstanding”
Reviewed 12 July 2014 via mobile

I knew of this rail line only because I saw it on a 1990's television show called 'A River Somewhere', where the train featured as the opener to some trout fishing on the Tongariro River. On the strength of that, we integrated the Wellington-Ohakune and Ohakune-Hamilton legs into a North Island winter holiday. We didn't regret our decision. Right from the start, with large luggage taken away by trolley to be packed in a separate carriage, the whole operation was a delight. The carriages are modern and attractive, the dining car is spacious and well-stocked and the small staff extremely friendly, efficient and informative. Beautiful scenery, an open carriage for photography and a service that worked like clockwork. This trip really made our holiday and got us into the right mood to relax. Coming from Australia, where our last attempt at a long distance train trip (Melbourne to Sydney) was horrific, this was a real eye opener, as it was very much on par with what one expects of scenic rail journeys in Europe and North America. Very, very highly recommended: good work KiwiRail.

Visited July 2014
5 Thank Andrew W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
41 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 June 2014

New Zealand doesn't have that many rail routes but there are three scenic ones geared towards sightseeing. This is the only one I've experienced and everything about it was wonderful. the trip from wellington to Auckland takes a full day but it's packed with unforgettable sights and the train is a real joy. Three on board personnel run the bar/buffet and are so helpful that you could be i a 5 star hotel. There's also an audio guide that you can opt into whenever you want and it's very informative. Can't wait to back and try the other scenic routes. Don't miss this!

Visited June 2014
6 Thank shylocktubal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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