Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a selection of the most commonly asked questions we encounter:
Why haven’t these New Zealand steam journeys been offered before?
Previously the New Zealand rail infrastructure was owned and controlled by a freight company which gave priority to freight trains and did not encourage heritage passenger operations. The New Zealand government bought back the rail infrastructure in 2004 and a specific Heritage Rail Operators Agreement to use the rail network was signed with Kiwirail meaning we can now travel on lines normally carrying just freight. The New Zealand government is keen to encourage new tourist initiatives and as our operation develops we intend to open up more lines for visitors to experience.
Is this journey aimed mainly at railfans?
No and Yes! The itinerary is designed for our visitors to experience all the best scenery and sights that New Zealand has to offer. This means that the non railfans have fully guided tours of ALL the major attractions en route and do not have to participate in any “railfan” events at all if they don’t want to. However, railfans will go home very happy as they will be able to visit all the best rail museums and participate in most of the best rail journeys in the country. This means you can choose just how much or how little of each you see as we travel through the country.
Are all excursions included?
All the main excursions are already included, although there is also a great choice of optional tours available on free evenings and on free days.
Will we get sick of being on a train all day?
The longest time spent on the train is usually 3 hours at any one time before we break for an excursion or arrive at that day’s destination. You can get up and walk around and talk to fellow travellers along the way or enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack in the buffet car. As “train” days usually alternate with city excursion days you are highly unlikely to get sick of train travel!
Do we have to load our luggage on and off the train every day?
NO All luggage is taken from hotel to hotel by coach. This means you can rest and relax, as you do not have to carry your luggage on to the train at all. Take with you only what you need for the day – camera and sun block etc.
Is the airfare included?
There are packages including airfares from most Australian cities and there are Ground Only fare options applicable in New Zealand. For other regions most people get better fares and more flexibility by shopping around locally, so we believe that is the best option for those customers. Don’t forget we end our journey at Christchurch in the South Island so you may need to make your own travel arrangements from there to your New Zealand departure airport.