The New Zealand Northern Explorer

New Zealand: The Scenic Route

This nearly 12-hour journey takes you through the spectacular sights of New Zealand from North to South. Enjoy the longest-running passenger service in the country, travelling from Auckland to Wellington on a route through some of the most incredible landscapes in the world, and some of the most beautiful national parkland you have ever seen.


About this journey

The amazing journey takes you on a trip right through the heartland of New Zealand

You’ll witness three spectacular volcanic mountains -Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu- as well as a whirling mix of exotic New Zealand culture

This journey doesn’t have to be taken all in one go either. Make it the journey of a lifetime by opting for a flexi fare, enabling you to hop on and off with unlimited stopovers, perfect for enjoying the country at your own pace.

Discover your journeys below

The Route: Auckland – Papakura – Hamilton – Otorohanga (Waitomo) – National Park – Ohakune – Palmerston North – Paraparaumu – Wellington

Auckland Hamilton Waitomo Caves National Park Wellington
Enjoy the buzzing city of Auckland. With plenty of nightlife to keep you entertained, including bars and eateries, there’s also the 3 miles of coastline and the world-famous Sky Tower to Hamilton is the garden-paradise of New Zealand. A wonderful place to explore by foot and Lord Of The Rings fans can visit the infinitely famous Hobbiton! Fan of water sports? Waitomo Caves is a great place to indulge in a bit of rafting and abseiling. Don’t forget to go glow-worm spotting! The Tongariro Crossing is the perfect place to take in the wild landscapes of the National Park. From green fields to snowcapped mountains, this is a sight not to be missed. Welcome to the capital of New Zeland! Wellington is at the southernmost point of the Northern Island and home to a bustling nightlife and a great selection of eateries and bars.

The Route

Auckland – Papakura – Hamilton – Otorohanga (Waitomo) – National Park – Ohakune – Palmerston North – Paraparaumu – Wellington

The Seating

The seating on board the Northern Explorer is arranged in a 4 seat with an aisle down the middle configuration. These can either be as a table or in forward-facing pairs. The large panoramic windows make this a great way to experience the dramatic landscape

On-Board Amenities

There is a café carriage on board, serving a range of light meals, drinks (both soft drinks and alcoholic drinks), and snacks. Each carriage has toilet facilities on board and a fantastic viewing carriage to immerse yourself in the landscape.


This is a regular train service which can be used to hop on and hop off. The operating days are as follows:

Auckland to Wellington

Monday, Thursday and Saturday

Wellington to Auckland

Wednesday, Friday and Sunday

Stops along the way include Papakura, Hamilton, Otorohanga (Waitomo), National Park, Ohakune, Palmerston North and Paraparaumu.