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19 Day Ultimate Rail & Coach Experience

Grand Pacific Small Group Tour starting in Auckland and finishing in Christchurch

Tour Description

Experience a Fully Escorted small group tour combining rail, coach & an exclusive overnight cruise. This tour will excite both rail enthusiasts and their travelling companions who wish to enjoy the best of New Zealand at a relaxed pace. On three rail journeys you will experience an operating steam railway; Ride the beautifully restored vintage steam Glenbrook Vintage Railway; the magnificent Southern Alps on the TranzAlpine one of the world's great train journey; board the Silver Fern railcar for a journey along spectacular clifftops overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Blueskin Bay. See more of New Zealand by rail & coach!

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Tour Info
Regions Visited
Ultimate Inclusions
Ultimate Small Group Touring
  • Small group travel – limited to 20 travellers
  • Exclusive purpose built luxury touring vehicle - with 20 luxury leather reclining seats on a full size vehicle, 2 door access and panoramic windows
  • Professional Coach Captain
  • Personalised Meet & Greet on arrival in New Zealand
  • View AllTotal 10 Items
  • Return airport transfers in New Zealand
  • 17 nights premium hotel accommodation including hotel porterage & Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
  • 6 two night stays
  • 3 rail journeys
  • 5 scenic cruises
  • All sightseeing and pre paid attractions
Bon Appétit!
  • 18 cooked breakfasts including a specialty breakfast at Skyline Restaurant in Rotorua
  • 14 sumptuous dinners including 3 specialty dinners: Maori Hangi & Concert in Rotorua, Walter Peak Homestead in Queenstown, Farewell Dinner with selected beverages in Christchurch (Dinner on Day 1 not included for anyone arriving later than 8pm)
  • 1 picnic lunch
  • 2 delicious morning teas including an Ultimate High Tea at Larnach Castle
Trip Notes
  • Itinerary and inclusions shown apply to departures from September 2017 onwards.

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2018

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Travel in Style

A range of accessories that will complement your documentation pack. Grand Pacific Tours offer a range of stylish accessories that will complement your documentation pack. These items offer great value for money and will be a memento of your New Zealand holdiay for many years to come. Order any of these items with Relaxing Journeys at the time of booking, as they are not able to be purchased when you arrive.

Grand Pacific Tour Mechandise

Jacket $NZ 79, Cap $NZ 25, Both $NZ 99

Tour Itinerary - Day by Day
  • Day1

    Arrive in Auckland

    On arrival in Auckland you will be met by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel. Meet your travelling companions over a complimentary pre dinner drink.

    Stay: Crowne Plaza Auckland (D)

  • Day2

    Auckland - Bay of Islands

    Board the luxurious Ultimate Coach, depart Auckland and travel to the Parry Kauri Park to see a magnificent example of a Kauri Tree. Enjoy a visit and informative talk at the Kauri Museum in Matakohe, then travel via Whangarei to Paihia, situated in the heart of the beautiful Bay of Islands. Enjoy a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the location of the signing of the treaty between the Maori tribes and the British.

    Stay: Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands (Deluxe Rooms) (2 nights) (B, D)

  • Day3

    Bay of Islands

    Today is a free day. Choose from the many optional activities available, including the Cape Reinga coach trip via Ninety Mile Beach or a spectacular scenic flight. This evening is also free and you may like to enjoy a relaxing dinner cruise (optional). (B)

  • Day4

    Bay of Islands - Auckland

    This morning travel aboard a luxury catamaran to Cape Brett and the famous Hole in the Rock. Keep an eye out for bottlenose and common dolphins before returning to Paihia. Travel south via Whangarei to Auckland.

    Stay: Crowne Plaza Auckland (B, D)

  • Day5

    Auckland - Rotorua

    Depart Auckland and travel to Glenbrook Vintage Railway for a nostalgic 15 kilometre trip back in time on a beautifully restored vintage steam train. Visit the restoration workshop and on return to Glenbrook Station, morning tea will be served. Depart Glenbrook and travel through magnificent countryside to Longlands Farm & Restaurant. Enjoy a delicious home cooked lunch hosted by a rural New Zealand family. Continue to Rainbow Springs, spanning 22 acres of native tree's. A highlight will be the Kiwi Encounter experience which offers a unique behind-the-scenes tour of a working kiwi nursery and hatchery.

    Stay: Regent of Rotorua (2 nights) (B, D)

  • View Full ItineraryTotal 19 Days
  • Day6

    Rotorua

    Today begins with a Gondola ride at the Skyline Rotorua for breakfast with champagne, spectacular views and also time for a thrilling luge ride! Next stop is the Agrodome for an action packed hour of farming entertainment and education that's unlike anything you've seen before. Enjoy some free time this afternoon before travelling to Te Puia to see the boiling mud pools and the awesome geysers that Rotorua is famous for. This evening experience an entertaining Maori Hangi and Concert. (B, SD)

  • Day7

    Rotorua - Wellington

    Depart Rotorua and travel along the Thermal Explorer Highway before arriving at the spectacular Huka Falls. Continue to Lake Taupo where some free time is available to enjoy this scenic lakeside town. Travel via the Tongariro National Park and see the snow capped peaks of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro. Continue south along the Kapiti Coast to the capital city of Wellington for an extensive city tour.

    Stay: InterContinental Wellington (2 nights) (B, D)

  • Day8

    Wellington

    A highlight this morning will be time to explore Gallipoli: A Scale of War exhibition at Te Papa, New Zealand’s National Museum. Cutting edge technology brings these stories to life through the eyes of New Zealanders who were there. Reboard your coach for an extensive city tour which showcases the history and culture on show. Enjoy free time this afternoon and this evening is also free to choose your own dining arrangements.. (B)

  • Day9

    Wellington - Christchurch

    This morning board the Interislander Ferry , cross the Cook Strait and enjoy the scenery as you travel through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton. Join your Ultimate Coach and travel through the alpine village of St Arnaud, the enchanting beech Maruia  Forest and the scenic Lewis Pass to the garden city of Christchurch.

    Stay: The George (2 nights) (B, D)

  • Day10

    Christchurch

    Today visit the International Antarctic Centre designed to provide an informative account of life in Antarctica. This is followed by an introductory city tour of Christchurch. This afternoon includes a journey on board the Christchurch Tram at your leisure, one of Christchurch’s leading attractions. This evening is also free to enjoy one of the many eateries near your hotel. (B)

  • Day11

    Christchurch - Arthur's Pass - Fox Glacier

    This morning board the TranzAlpine, renowned as one of the great train journeys of the world. Travel over massive viaducts, river valleys and spectacular gorges as you ascend to Arthur's Pass located in the centre of the Southern Alps. Board your coach and travel to Hokitika, famous for its Greenstone before continuing via Franz Josef to Fox Glacier where time is available to experience a scenic flight (optional, weather permitting) over the spectacular glaciers.

    Stay: Distinction Fox Glacier (B, D)

  • Day12

    Fox Glacier - Queenstown

    See the snow capped peaks of the Southern Alps as you travel south along the West Coast. Continue via the Haast Pass, an area of stunning beauty before arriving into Arrowtown and visit the Lakes District Museum. Continue to Queenstown, a year round resort situated on the shores of magical Lake Wakatipu. This evening is free and you may choose to dine out at one of the many fine restaurants.

    Stay: Millennium Hotel Queenstown (2 nights) (B)

  • Day13

    Queenstown (Free Day)

    Today is a free day. There are plenty of sightseeing options and your Grand Pacific Tours Local Host is available to assist. This evening board the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw and cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. On arrival sit back, relax and enjoy a gourmet barbecue dinner which the chef will prepare in front of you at the Colonel's Homestead. After dinner enjoy a short farm tour then reboard the TSS Earnslaw for a sing along by the piano as you cruise back to Queenstown. (B, SD)

  • Day14

    Queenstown - Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

    Today travel via Te Anau to Manapouri. Enjoy a picnic lunch as you cruise across this glacial lake to join the Fiordland Navigator for an unforgettable night in the Fiordland National Park. As you cruise through the pristine beauty of Doubtful Sound, naturalist guides will provide commentary and point out the resident wildlife. As evening falls enjoy a delicious carvery buffet prepared freshly by the onboard chef.

    Stay: Fiordland Navigator (B, L, D)

  • Day15

    Doubtful Sound - Te Anau

    Start the day with a hearty breakfast before heading back to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri. Return back to the wharf to meet your coach and enjoy the scenic drive to Te Anau. This afternoon enjoy a cruise across Lake Te Anau to visit the Glow Worm Caves where you admire the incredible limestone caverns, waterfalls and mystery of the Glow Worm Grotto.

    Stay: Distinction Hotel & Villas (B, D)

  • Day16

    Te Anau - Dunedin

    Travel via Gore and Balclutha to Dunedin known as the "Edinburgh of the South". After time for lunch board the Silver Fern railcar for a journey along spectacular clifftops overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Blueskin Bay. On return to Dunedin’s historic Edwardian Railway Station, board the coach for an informative city tour before arriving at your hotel.

    Stay: Distinction Dunedin (2 nights) (B, D)

  • Day17

    Dunedin

    Travel along the Otago Peninsula to Larnach Castle where you will hear of the tragic and scandalous history on a guided tour. Enjoy time to wander around this Garden of International Significance followed by Ultimate High Tea served in the Grand Ballroom. Return to the city for some free time. You might like to board the The Taieri Gorge Limited for a journey through spectacular scenery only accessible by rail (optional). (B, D)

  • Day18

    Dunedin - Christchurch

    This morning visit Olveston House, a prestigious historic home before travelling to Oamaru, famous for its limestone. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner including selected beverages with your new found friends..

    Stay: The George (B, SD)

  • Day19

    Christchurch - Homeport

    Time to say goodbye. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight home after a memorable New Zealand holiday. (B)

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Tour Reviews

View all 16 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.9 out of 5.

  • 5Great way to see the country in a small group (less than 20 people), but using a full sized coach that is adapted for this number.

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    - 14/11/2017
  • 5The Grand Pacific Ultimate NZ Small Group Tour was exceptional. The coach was spacious and very comfortable. In fact, someone from a non-ultimate tour asked to look at our coach and described it as a "Rolls-Royce" compared to their coach. The itinerary was also terrific - almost everything we did could be the "best part" of an overall fantastic 19-days. We had a great time and are so glad we choose a small group ultimate tour. The accommodations and meals were also magnificent.

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    - 09/03/2017
  • 5I had a fascinating and enjoyable holiday owing to Relaxing Journeys and particularly special mention and great thanks go to Toni, who directed me through a long process of booking this tour and was exceptionally helpful and understanding. The Ultimate Rail, Cruise & Coach Experience was absolutely Ultimate. The coach was the star of this tour, very comfortable, clean and luxurious. The tour captain, Paul was a careful driver, excellent organizer and a knowledgeable guide. A helpful and good companion during this tour. The accommodation with one exception was of the highest standard, the highlight was The Regent of Rotorua with thermal mineral pool, the very place to rest after a busy sightseeing day. Exceptional were also The George hotel in Christchurch and Distinction Dunedin, both luxurious and also providing free of charge laundry facilities. In all hotels WiFi was free. Evening meals at hotels were excellent, beautifully served and very tasty. Breakfast mostly English style, a little too heavy for me, non-English European, but highly appreciated by my Australian and British companions. Luggage handling was very efficient, all transfers smooth and easy. Many times we could feel very exceptional, being greeted by hotel management, having complimentary drinks or special happy hours. We were a group of 19, Aussies, British, Canadians and me, from Poland. We quickly made a friendly team, everyone had a good time on the tour. Although summertime, it was quite rainy and cold but did not spoil our fun. I found New Zealand a fascinating country, so unspoiled nature, so clean air and pure water and breathtaking scenery. Friendly, warm people, ready to help any time. Most of the inclusions I found very interesting, though I expected more walking than sitting on a bus coach. However, the distances were enormous (we drove nearly 4000 km in 19 days), so this time no time for wandering in the wilderness. But the highlights were the optional attractions, the highlight was helicopter flight with landing over the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers, so spectacular, a float plane flight over the Mount Tarawera Volcano and a visit to Skippers Canyon, complete wilderness and scenery from the Lord of Rings! New Zealand was much more than I expected. I highly recommend Grand Pacific and Relaxing Journeys Small Group Ultimate Tours.

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    - 10/02/2017
  • 5The tour fulfilled (and surpassed) all our requirements. We wanted a small group, North and South Island, highlights of New Zealand, good hotels, good guide/driver, business class level of tour. In all aspects this tour was excellent. We are not normally a coach tour tourists and we were a little anxious, but there was no need. The ultimate coach is a business class experience with seating for 20 people all with a window seat, personal console and room for 2 pieces of hand luggage under the console and more on the overhead rack if needed. Our coach driver/guide was indeed excellent. His knowledge was considerable, his humour gentle, his manner in dealing with questions or potential difficulties admirable, his driving first class. The hotels we stayed in were all excellent or very good with all the facilities needed, friendly helpful staff and good food. Luggage transfers were achieved with no fuss and mostly in a speedy way. The included attractions were well worth visiting and the range of optional excursions/activities were comprehensive, so something for everyone. If there is one small criticism (and it is not of the tour or its' organisation) it is that we would have liked to stay at many of the visited attractions for longer, however we appreciate that the tour can do no more than be a taster and we look forward to visiting New Zealand in the future. Our tour took place at the time of the Kaikoura earthquake which meant our itinerary had to be revised. This was accomplished with minimum fuss and we were re-imbursed for our missed train journey, in full, in cash before we left New Zealand - very impressive. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this tour to anyone.

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    - 13/11/2016
  • 5Excellent tour, with the pace and 2 night stays making it very comfortable for our age group. My only criticism as such would be the hangi. I probably went with a preconception and the event didn't rise to that level. A couple of others thought as I did, but the majority loved it. Many thanks Marie for organising a memorable for my wife and myself.

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    - 10/10/2016
  • 5Coach, driver/guide ,hotels and of course, New Zealand were top quality. I would recommend the Ultimate Tour as coach was so roomy, clean and had all facilities. A small group allows friendships to grow. I have recommended the tour to friends and family.

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    - 18/09/2016
  • 5Comparing this small group tour with the two very nice small group tours we've taken in Europe - this was superior in so many aspects. The coach was wonderful - a full size vehicle fitted for just 20 people. The hotels tended to be a level up from our other experiences. The coach captain not only drove but coordinated the daily events. He was wonderful the full 19 days. We also had more included dinners of excellent quality than other excursions. And finally we feel we thoroughly saw and experienced New Zealand. And as Americans traveling with 18 Aussies, every day was a new cultural exchange. Just wish Grand Pacific operated outside of NZ.

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    - 02/04/2016
  • View All ReviewsTotal 16 Items
  • 5A busy tour but very thorough and enjoyable. Excellent driver/tour guide. Comfortable coach and well-selected tours and visits.

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    - 17/02/2016
  • 5This truly was the ULTIMATE way to see New Zealand. Couldn't fault the tour in any way. Far exceeded expectations.

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    - 15/04/2015
  • 5The coach captain and the tour guide made everything perfect. Any slight issues were dealt with promptly and efficiently. The next Ultimate Tour will be better if that is possible than this one. Take advantage of the optional events as they are stunning. Grand Pacific are excellent.

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    - 02/04/2015
  • 5We booked this Grand Pacific Ultimate Tour through Relaxing Journeys by email from the US without a hitch. The arrangements were even better than described, and all paperwork was timely and complete, and questions were answered promptly. We could not of have asked for more. The tour itself was superb. The Ultimate Coach is a full sized vehicle that could hold 48 people, but is setup up for 20, which is different from other Grand Pacific tours. There is a single, large, comfortable electrically reclining (within limits) seat on each side of the aisle, with a table, USB ports, room for travel bag under the table, and music outlet at each seat. A center console on the bus has a sink with filtered water to refill your bottles. This all makes travel very satisfying. The selected hotels, the food, the commentary, all were excellent. There was enough time to do a little laundry at various stops, or explore on our own. The planned itinerary was busy without being overwhelming. The optional tours were varied, and those we selected never disappointed. We purposely traveled in November and into December to sample the later spring season. Others may choose the height of summer for warmer conditions, but what we experienced was perfect for us. The people of New Zealand were all very welcoming, and the atmosphere was very safe and orderly. Hopefully these comments will help you make up your mind about this option. You will not be at all disappointed.

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    - 14/11/2014
  • 5A world class tour that took us from one end of New Zealand to the other. The activities included gave us a broad overview of what NZ has to offer. My favourites - museum in Wellington (Te Papa), Kiwi Encounter in Rotorua, Kauri museum, riding in the engine at Glenbrook Vintage railway, luge ride in Rotorua (almost did not do that one, but I loved it!), and number one - Milford Sound. Only activity I wish I had skipped was the Taieri Gorge Railway trip (too long over same territory). The huge coach windows allowed us to enjoy the ever changing landscapes. Meals were of high quality and very filling. A smaller portion option would have been appreciated as I could not eat all my food! Luggage handling was perfect at all hotels. Laundry facilities were readily available at most stops at reasonable prices, (sometimes even for free!) Being charged for internet access at some hotels was a sore point for my husband. He will only go back to the ones that offer free internet. Malcolm was a very good driver. Dennis was the perfect host who took very good care of us. Our group was an international one with members from England, Jersey, Canada, USA, and Australia. But the star of the tour was the coach. It was spacious and comfortable with lots of elbow room, leg room and storage space. This is the only type of coach we will ever consider touring on again!

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    - 15/04/2014
  • 5We thouroughly enjoyed our tour of New Zealand. The entire process was handled with professionalism and enthusiasm. We were impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of everyone we met in NZ as well as the cultural diversity. We chose autumn for the opportunity to see snow capped mountains as well as the changing of colors and NZ did not disappoint. Our favorite memories were the luge ride which our schedule limited us to only two rides and the Kiwi Encounter where we experienced a health check up of a Kiwi (our guides told us that was the closest they had ever been to a Kiwi in all their tours). We enjoyed the Te Papa Museum and the tour of Skippers Canyon. Our tour escort, Dennis, was a 10...so helpful and caring to ensure everyone was having their needs met. Malcolm, our driver/guide was very knowledgeable and professional. Our favorite hotels were Boutique Hotel The Regent in Rotorua where the staff were outstanding and the room was such a surprise and The George in Christchurch...impressive turndown service and heated floors and towel rack in the bathroom as well as free laundry. We found the corporate hotels to be more profit motivated...staff were personal and helpful, but their charges for amenities like the internet were the most expensive we have ever experienced. In 19 days the tour covers over 2,500 miles so there is quite a bit of time on the coach, but it is broken up with many stops at small towns for an hour or so to get a bite to eat or some shopping. The coach is outstanding...reclinging seating for 20 with foot and calf rests; a compartment adjacent to each seat for storage of your carry ons and individualized music at each seat. Our touring companions were very friendly and engaging originating from all corners of the original British Empire...with us being the only Americans, we experienced a language and cultural lesson each day learning so much from them.

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    - 15/04/2014
  • 5Fantastic tour! Coach was 'Ultimate', and the envy of other coach travelers, and attraction staff who came out to take pics. Hotels great (except for one), meals fantastic, tour guide and driver were fantastic. So many great experiences crammed into 19 days! In so many we had preferred treatment. Excellent value for the money. Would recommend it to everyone. The only negative was the slow service at some hotels, and the late meals. When we don't finish eating until after 9, then have to go to bed at 9:30 to get up at 6, sleep is difficult. I understand that this timetable is necessary, but all hotels should be encouraged to have meals ready, or preordered, or the same sample platters for everyone, etc. I also understand that it is difficult to prepare food for 20 all at once, so perhaps not much can be done. Many thanks for arranging the experience of a lifetime.

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    - 11/01/2014
  • 4Our tour consultant, Mani, was just amazing! He was very timely and helpful in answering all our questions. Our tour was everything we had hoped for: stunning scenery every where we visited, outstanding accommodations/food and a super comfortable coach to tour in. We loved it! Thank you so much and we wish you only the best Mani.

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    - 07/09/2013
  • 4There were some long days on the coach but this seems unavoidable given the territory we had to cover. I would have preferred more time for walking but I realize that this tour is not designed for hikers. Would be nice to have at least a few dinners at local restaurants instead of the hotels we stayed at. This was our experience when we travelled to China, and as it turned out, the dinners were one of the highlights of that tour. Of course, the focus in NZ should not be on food, but dining at local restaurants could add an extra touch to the New Zealand experience. On the subject of food: I informed the company that we are vegetarian; I think this message may not have been transmitted to the staff who were responsible for dining arrangements.

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    - 07/09/2013

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