The OverLander Train Through the North Island
Journey through the heart of New Zealand, by travelling on the old tracks weaving throughout the North Island. Sit back comfortably, while sipping a beverage of your choice, and watch as the beauty of the New Zealand countryside slowly passes by.
If you have ever wanted to see the array of culture, mountainous wonders, and the secrets hidden beneath the depths of the rivers and valleys, then join the crew and hop on the Overlander to explore the unique display of the North Island.
The Overlander voyages through the depths of the North Island. Travelling between Auckland; New Zealand’s largest city, and Wellington; the arts and culture capital. Rumbling through the small towns and large tourist attractions to your ultimate destination.
Tongariro National Park
Leaving Auckland, you will pass the well-known ski towns of Tongariro National park. Tongariro was the first National Park to be unearthed in New Zealand, and the fourth in the world. It is recognised for its Maori culture and spiritual relationship with the past.
Maori believe that the volcanic features were created when an ancestor of great Maori chiefs called to his sisters to send him fire. The fire left a trail of volcanic vents behind. Tongariro is filled with herb fields to forests, to peaceful lakes, desert-like surroundings and active volcanoes.
The Overlander journeys through the little township of Ohakune, a popular destination for ski lovers. Ohakune, nicknamed the Carrot Capital, in honour of the Big Carrot that was unveiled in 1984. The Ohakune people are proud of their heritage, banding together in the fifties and sixties to build the Ohakune Mountain Road, allowing access to the southern slopes of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Turoa.
Today Ohakune is still a major supplier of fresh, high-quality produce; especially the big carrot. Green pastures dotted with sheep, cows and goats fill the land. New Zealand farmland rich in growth and colour, representing the once untarnished image of clean, green New Zealand.
You will cruise by the volcanic plateau and Mount Ruapehu. Mt Ruapehu is one of the most active campsite volcanoes in the world. The silent, but still active volcano that in 1995 and 1996 devastated nearby towns, erupting its contents onto houses, cars and local shops. Large clouds of ash and steam covered the surrounding snow fields and forests. Now this deadly monster has become home to the snow enthusiasts that bound down the mountain on skis and snow boards. People are still aware of the potential of this great mountain, as ten eruptions have come from Ruapehu’s crater since 1994.
You will then be able to cast your eyes on the world famous Raurimu Spiral. An abrupt increase in altitude to over seven hundred feet, sending you through the mountains that rise above it.
The spiral was a memorial to R.W Holmes. This man was described as “perhaps the greatest location engineer in New Zealand’s history”. This spiral was designed in the form of an ascending spiral; completing a full circle, three horseshoe curves and two short tunnels. Throughout the trip, rivers gorge their way through mountains, roads and rock faces.
Travelling in Style
You have the chance to stretch your legs at a variety of stops, and the unique opportunity to take photos of places only the crew on the Overlander know about.
Not only does this train trip allow passengers to get a first-class view of the bountiful landscape, but you are able to relax during the trip. The carriages are centrally heated/air conditioned. You can recline in comfort as the seats on the train imitate airline style. All the while glancing out your window at the sweeping views, enjoying your favourite novel, jamming to music or striking up a conversation with the assortment of people that inhibit the train.
The Overlander offers a Buffet Carriage with a mixture of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and light meals.
You can also stroll to the Observation Carriage, containing lounge-style seating and situated at the end of the carriage, enabling a glimpse of the land you leave behind.
Finally arriving in either Auckland or Wellington, starting the next part of your journey.
The Grand Chateau Escape
The Grand Chateau Escape takes you on a voyage to the Chateau at Mount Ruapehu. The Chateau has been awarded several awards as finalists and winners for the best ski resorts/hotels.
The golf fanatics will have a dream come true, as your stay will involve playing a round of golf on New Zealand’s highest golf course. Those that are not interested in golf can take a bush/snow walk around Mount Ruapahu’s landscape. The ones that don’t want to brave the cold can just enjoy the Chateau’s comforts, by snuggling by the roaring fire with a hot chocolate, and dine on the array of delights the Chateau has to offer. It offers an indoor heated plunge pool and is on the “doorstep of New Zealand’s volcanic playground”. If you’re not a skier, but looking for an adventure, bungee jumping off the numerous locations on the mountain, or flying through the volcanic depths will be for you.
Tongariro Park is only a short distance away. Displaying a bountiful array of short and long-tailed bats, North Island robins, fantails, parakeets and fereru – the native pigeon.
You have the enjoyment of staying at the enchanting chateau for the night and going for a short trek to explore the mountainside in the morning. A buffet breakfast is also provided to satisfy you on the trip back to the train. You will then embark on the rest of your journey to the capital of New Zealand – Wellington. This trip can also be done on the Silver Fern Railcar.
The OverLander provides a unique way of travelling across the North Island, exploring places inaccessible any other way. Being able to enjoy the information the knowledgeable staff will narrate throughout the journey.
Finding Your Destination
Railway Stations are scattered over the North and South Islands. Starting from Auckland, Hamilton, Tongariro National Park, Okahune, Palmerston North and Wellington.
Rail New Zealand also offers a Scenic Pass, so that visitors can travel by any train with ease.
The old-fashioned way of travelling truly enables a journey like no other.
The OverLander, Accessed 14/07/11, www.RailNewZealand.com