Tourists on the TranzAlpine, Coastal Pacific and Northern Explorer trains will soon be able to book their trips as part of a package tour, with accommodation and activities included.
KiwiRail has unveiled 10 short break packages and multi-day guided tours that incorporate the scenic train journeys.
Examples of the packages, with indicative prices, are already being promoted on the Great Journeys of New Zealand website, though they won’t be available to book until later this year.
They range from overnight trips to two-week-long inter-island tours.
* The relaunch of the Northern Explorer won’t draw more Kiwis to travel by rail
* TranzAlpine scenic train trips back on track
* Petition on its way calling for cheaper Coastal Pacific Train fares
The cheapest option is a two-day “Dolphin Encounter in Kaikōura” package, which includes the return journey on the Coastal Pacific from Christchurch to Kaikōura, a guided sightseeing tour, dolphin encounter experience and one night’s accommodation, starts from $589.
The longest and most expensive trip, a 17-day “Signature Tour” from Auckland to Queenstown, starts from $13,499, which includes all three train journeys, transport on the Interislander ferry, a Milford Sound day tour and cruise and other tourism activities throughout, several meals, and accommodation in “4 to 4.5 star hotels”.
KiwiRail general manager Great Journeys New Zealand and Commuter Rail Tracey Goodall said there were a wide range of packages and tours, catering for different budgets and travel styles.
“Essentially they are designed for people who wish to enjoy their holiday, without having to spend all their time coordinating it.”
Packages worked out at around $300 to $350 a day, and given the inclusions – train travel, food onboard, accommodation, breakfast and in some cases dinner, transfers, and in most cases an activity – they offered “great value” for customers, Goodall said.
“We did a soft launch for some packages in 2020, which was very successful. With borders closed our customers were only Kiwis, which showed the demand for this style of travel.”
The multi-day guided tours, which ranged from $500 to $750 a day, were more targeted towards international visitors, she said. These prices aligned with other operator prices, and reflected what was included.
“Both packages and tours support regional New Zealand, ensuring Kiwi businesses benefit from both domestic and international visitors.”
Customers would also be able to book the train journeys separately.
The Northern Explorer between Auckland and Wellington and the Coastal Pacific between Picton and Christchurch have been suspended since last August, when New Zealand went into lockdown.
In December, it was announced the services would not resume until mid-2022, while KiwiRail evaluated “different and better options for domestic and overseas travellers once New Zealand’s borders fully open and the tourism market picks up again”.
The Northern Explorer is set to resume from September 25, followed by the Coastal Pacific from September 29.
The TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth resumed in January.