Auckland to Wellington Train – The Northern Explorer

Auckland to Wellington Train, New Zealand 

The Northern Explorer train service offers railway travellers the chance to take a long-distance trip through five geographical regions of the North Island. The journey begins in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city and ends in the harbour capital of Wellington. On the way, passengers get to enjoy views of the fertile farmlands of Waikato, the volcanic peaks of the Central Plateau and the pristine Kapiti coast.

This scenic train service is New Zealand’s longest running passenger service with stops including Palmerston North, Ohakune, National Park and Hamilton. As you’d expect, this is a super popular train for visitors to New Zealand and it’s a great way to travel the length of the North Island. 

Prices from: NZ $158
Departing from: Auckland station
Journey length: 10.5 hours

Auckland to Wellington train route

The Northern Explorer train operates three times a week (Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays) from Auckland to Wellington and the same frequency (Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays) from Wellington to Auckland.  The long-distance journey offers passengers the chance to see many of the North island’s most iconic sights including the world famous Raurimu Spiral, Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu volcanoes and the country’s dense beech forests. The train stops at Papakura, Hamilton, Otorohanga (Waitomo), National Park, Ohakune, Palmerston North and Paraparaumu. Depending on the ticket you buy, there is an opportunity to hop on and off this train.

Auckland to wellington train New Zealand
The train arrives in Wellington, full of scenic beauty

Auckland to Wellington train

The Northern Explorer train’s carriages have been specially designed for sightseeing with non-reflective side and roof windows. You can also enjoy the sights from an open-air carriage too. On the air conditioned and centrally heated carriages which boast large panoramic windows, headphones are provided so you can listen to commentary in five languages. On board, you’ll also find a licensed café which serves hot and cold food, as well as tea and coffee, wine and beer. 

Why we love it

If you only take one train journey in New Zealand, this is the one to do. It’s an amazingly easy way of seeing the North island in the comfort of a great train. It beats travelling by a coach or car hands-down and the option to get on and off the train, means this journey works well for first time visitors to the country.

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