If you’re looking for a spectacular ride, the Northern Explorer train in New Zealand might just fit the bill. Running from Auckland to Wellington three times a week in each direction, this long distance train ride passes some of North Island’s most scenic countryside. Here’s why you should take the Northern Explorer train in New Zealand.
5 Reasons for a New Zealand Northern Explorer Train Trip
During its day-long journey, the Northern Explorer passes through some of North Island’s most spectacular landscapes. The highlight for many is passing within sight of Tongariro National Park and if the weather holds, you’ll be rewarded with superb views of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe, which was digitally transformed into Mount Doom for the Lord of the Rings films, and Mt Ruapehu, the country’s largest active volcano. The pastureland and river valleys you’ll pass will also wow you, particularly the dramatic Rangitikei river gorge.
No need to leave your seat
The oversized panoramic windows and non-reflective glass will ensure even the fussiest of photographers won’t be disappointed. Unless you opt for table seating, all seats face forward to ensure you won’t miss what’s coming up. But for those who want to connect with the landscape, there’s an open air viewing car attached to the train, just as there is on the TranzAlpine which traverses New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
Hop on and hop off
While many travellers are keen to make the whole journey in one go, it’s possible to ride a section of the route or break your journey into smaller chunks. From Hamilton station, it’s an easy ride to the Hobbiton film set. Other popular stop-offs include the Waitomo caves, in which you’ll find more glow worms than you ever thought possible, and for train buffs, the fascinating railway museum in Ohakune. Purchase a Flexi or Flexi Plus fare to be able to hop on and off at your convenience.
Train buffs will approve
For train buffs, travelling along the famous Raurimu Spiral will be a bucket list experience. Engineers needed to work out a way for the railway line to climb over 200 metres in under four miles, so to make that happen, they needed the train to double back on itself. With the help of some hairpin bends, a few loops and a couple of tunnels, their goal was achieved.
More convenient than the plane
With air travel these days comes lengthy check in times, queues for security and restrictions as to what you can take on board. Travelling by train cuts this out. A dedicated luggage car will see your suitcases safely to your destination station; leaving you free to enjoy the views with having to look between other people’s bags. Check in time is just 20 minutes before departure, maximising your time off the train.