East & West Rail Tour 2024


10 Day Rail Tour - Departing Auckland & Hamilton | 5 - 14 November 2024



Join the Glenbrook Vintage Railway as we experience some of the best of the North Island's scenic railways!

Embark on an extraordinary adventure with Glenbrook Vintage Railway aboard their private Diesel-hauled heritage train, journeying through the North Island's less-traveled railway routes, offering stunning scenery and showcasing some of New Zealand's famous locations. Experience iconic landmarks like the Raurimu Spiral and Mt Taranaki, alongside charming destinations such as Napier's Art Deco cityscape. Enjoy overnight stays in captivating spots like Ohakune, New Plymouth, and Napier, with handpicked activities and exclusive tours to enrich your exploration. Our tour in November 2024 will also coincide with the award winning Taranaki Garden Festival and discover the Gannet Colony & Cape Sanctuary in the Hawkes Bay. Our tour is fully escorted, ensuring every moment is filled with discovery and enhancing the allure of rail travel for enthusiasts of history, nature, and adventure alike.

We arrive back in Hamilton/Auckland having seen some of the jewels in the crown of the North Island - often understated for its beauty.

Travel with the Glenbrook Vintage Railway as we travel East & West and experience the romance of rail travel. 

Rail Tour Highlights

Taranaki Garden Festival

Experience the splendour of New Plymouth and the Taranaki region through this award winning event that showcases exquisite public and private gardens. The festival features over 40 gardens around Taranaki, from the established park-like country gardens, sustainable urban food forests, inner-city sub-tropical rainforests, and native sanctuaries.


Art Deco Napier

Napier is renowned for its art deco architecture, a charming relic of its post-earthquake rebuilding in the 1930s. This coastal city boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with galleries, boutique shops, and cafes lining its streets, offering visitors a taste of its eclectic charm.


Cape Sanctuary

Embark on a journey through the Ocean Beach Wilderness Area, New Zealand's largest privately owned wildlife sanctuary, where guides lead you through a rich narrative spanning pre-historic eras to present-day conservation efforts. Encounter takahe and kakariki up close, witness stunning coastal vistas, and learn about Cape Sanctuary's conservation initiatives.


Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre

Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre is a captive-breeding sanctuary for some of the country's most threatened birds. Located in a pocket of ancient forest 30 kilometres north of Masterton, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre is a highly educational experience and it's also great fun.


Wonderful Wairarapa

We travel to the Wairarapa, where we discover the delightful and bustling village atmospheres of Greytown and Martinborough as well as a visit to an exclusive private estate - reserved only for select groups, featuring sculptures, a railway and extensive exotic & native fauna.


Travel Itinerary

Auckland/Hamilton - Ohakune

Today we depart Auckland from both Glenbrook and Papakura Stations, making our first stop at Hamilton’s Frankton Station. Leaving Hamilton and exiting out of the mighty Waikato, we glide through the rolling farmland and skirt many rivers, gorges and valleys as we enter the King Country.

At Te Kuiti we start our ascent to the Poro-O-Tarao Tunnel which takes us through the range dividing the watersheds of the Mokau and Whanganui rivers. From Taumarunui it is all up hill to the famous Raurimu Spiral taking us up to the central plateau. We skirt the bottom of the imposing mountains as we leave National Park, we soon cross the mighty Makatote Viaduct, skirting Mt. Ruapehu and crossing the grand Hapuawhenua Viaduct before arriving in Ohakune for the night.

Our accommodation is only a short walk from the station in Ohakune.

Passenger pickups: Glenbrook, Papakura, Hamilton, Te Awamutu. Other stops may be able to be accommodated by special request.

Tour Inclusions
MT | L | AT
  • GVR Tour Train from Glenbrook, Papakura, Hamilton to Ohakune.
  • Morning & Afternoon Tea and Lunch on board GVR Tour Train.
  • Sumptuous Lunch pack on board the train.

Ohakune - New Plymouth

Today we leave Ohakune on our way south down the North Island Main Trunk to Marton. Shortly after leaving Ohakune we pass the site of the Tangiwai disaster, crossing the upper reaches Whangaehu River. We start our descent from the central plateau with several crossings of the Hautapu River before arriving into Taihape. South of Taihape we cross the North Rangitikei, Kawhatau and South Rangitikei viaducts, the latter being the highest viaduct on the North Island Main Trunk.

At Marton we make a short stop for a leg stretch and to change ends of our locomotive, here we divert from the North Island Main Trunk to continue our day’s travel on the Marton – New Plymouth Line. The Turakina tunnel, shortly followed by the Fordell tunnels, are some of our first points of interest. The line west undulates over the rugged countryside near the South Taranaki Bight. You know we have reached the top of a grade as there is always is a road crossing, and at the bottom of the grade there is a river bridge.

Departing the eastern suburbs of Whanganui, we cross the Whanganui river before starting our climb up the formidable Westmere Bank. Descending the grade into the township of Patea from the mouth of the river, we continue onward to Hawera and the start of our mountain views. We navigate the eastward side of the Egmont National Park before arriving into New Plymouth, at our stop on the coastal walkway.

Disembarking here, our accommodation is only a short walk.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • GVR Tour Train from Ohakune to New Plymouth.
  • Morning & Afternoon Tea and Lunch on board GVR Tour Train.
  • Sumptuous Lunch pack on board the train.

New Plymouth - Taranaki Garden Festival

Today, we delve into the Taranaki Region with the Taranaki Garden Festival organisers handpicking five exceptional properties exclusively for our tour group.

Immerse yourself in a unique day trip during the festival, visiting these exquisite gardens. Benefit from the ease of bus transfers to and from your hotel and between each garden. A seasoned gardening expert will join the group, offering valuable insights at every stop. Additionally a delightful lunch in included as part of the experience. Later in the afternoon, we'll return to the hotel, where you have the freedom to explore the town at your own pace.

Tour Inclusions
B | L
  • Exclusive day trip organised by the Taranaki Garden Festival.
  • Entry to all Gardens, coach travel and lunch.

New Plymouth - Palmerston North

Our morning departure out of New Plymouth sees us retrace our journey to Palmerston North before the trip north to National Park. The rolling countryside and mountain views entertain you as we travel through the towns of Inglewood, Stratford, Eltham and on to Hawera. Passing Stratford we get a glimpse of the southern connection to the mothballed Stratford – Okahukura Line. South of Hawera we travel past one of the country’s busiest milk factories at Whareroa. Passing through Patea once again we skirt the Waipipi Wind Farm, home to some of the country’s largest wind turbines.

We make a stop in Waverley for Lunch, provided by a local group, before making our way down the Westmere Bank and through the eastern reaches of Whanganui.

At Marton we re-join the North Island Main Trunk, we descend to Feilding and Manawatu dairy country arriving in Palmerston North mid afternoon. We are shuttled to our accommodation and you have the evening free.


Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • GVR Tour Train from New Plymouth to Palmerston North.
  • Morning & Afternoon Tea and Lunch on board GVR Tour Train.
  • Sumptuous Lunch pack on board the train.

Palmerston North - Manawatu Gorge - Napier

This morning we relocate to the railway station from our hotel and we depart north-east towards Napier on the Palmerston North – Gisborne line. Passing through the breath-taking Manawatu Gorge, now only accessible by rail, we pass through Woodville where we stop briefly before we continue north.

Rolling through the meandering countryside, north of Dannevirke we cross the six famous viaducts of Mangatera, Piripiri, Mangatewainui, Makotuku, Ormondville and Kopua. We make a stop in Waipukurau for lunch at a local eatery and time to stretch the legs.

The Pekapeka Wetlands signal our entry into the horticultural heart of the Hawkes Bay, often quoted as ‘The fruit bowl of New Zealand’ where we soon greet the coastline south of Napier, shortly before arriving into the heart of town.

We are relocated to our accommodation in Napier’s scenic centre.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • GVR Tour Train from Palmerston North to Napier.
  • Morning & Afternoon Tea and Lunch on board GVR Tour Train.
  • Sumptuous Lunch.

Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony & Cape Sanctuary

Today we leave the Art Deco streetscape of central Napier and head south towards Cape Kidnappers and our day with Gannet Safaris.

We start by travelling over a working farm and New Zealand's largest privately owned and funded wildlife sanctuary, stop several times at lookout points along the way. Learn about the local history and culture from our highly knowledgeable guides while taking in the sensational 360-degree views over Hawkes Bay. While at the plateau, one is within a few metres of the remarkable birds with their stunning golden crowns. No walking required.

We then venture across the formidable landscape of the Ocean Beach Wilderness Area, the heart of New Zealand’s largest privately owned and operated wildlife sanctuary. Experience the impact of Cape Sanctuary’s conservation efforts in real-time through up-close encounters with takahe and kakariki. Travel high above the Ocean Beach Cliffs, and greet the all-encompassing view of the coastline as you enter this pest-free slice of paradise, the ‘sea bird site’. Learn about Cape Sanctuary’s nationally significant sand-dune restoration, coastal revegetation, species translocations and leading sea-bird restoration projects.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • Exclusive charter of Gannet Safaris and Cape Sanctuary.
  • Morning tea & Lunch
  • Visit to local winery.

Napier - Woodville - Pahiatua - Masterton

Today’s travel retraces our steps, back down to Woodville. Leaving Napier we once again roll through the lush orchards and growing areas of central Hawkes Bay. You hear the locomotive work hard as we head up the Opapa Bank, the steepest on this part of the line between Napier and Woodville.

Between Waipukurau and Dannevirke we pass through several old towns of New Zealand, now reminiscing at their glory days in the height of the New Zealand Railways.

At Woodville we get the chance to see the Woodville Balloon Loop, an iconic piece of rail infrastructure as we head on our journey further south, down the Wairarapa Line. This line is not used by any scheduled freight or passenger services. Having crossed the Manawatu River, and passing the famous Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka we stop at Pahiatua for lunch and time to look at the Pahiatua Railcar Society’s magnificent collection.

Here we relocate to a bus for our last leg of the journey, our departure from Pahiatua sees us climb through stunning native bush up to Mount Bruce and in to the Wairarapa.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • GVR Tour Train from Napier to Pahiatua.
  • Morning & Afternoon Tea and Lunch on board GVR Tour Train.
  • Sumptuous Lunch pack on board the train.

Greytown, Martinborough and private estate.

Departing Masterton, we make our way through the town of Carterton, arriving in Greytown where there is time to explore this beautiful town and it’s boutique shops.

Leaving Greytown for the short journey to our next exclusive destination property this is where we spend a few hours surrounded by enchanted plantings, sculptures and a railway – this opportunity doesn’t come often and should not be missed. Lunch is included in this wonderful location.

After our time at the property, we take a scenic journey through the countryside to Martinborough and a local winery, before we return to Masterton late afternoon.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L 
  • Coach travel around the southern Wairarapa.
  • Time in Greytown and Martinborough.
  • Exclusive entry to private estate and Lunch.

Mt Bruce, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre, Palmerston North

Today we relocate our entire group by coach to Palmerston North, ready for the following day's rail journey home to the Waikato and Auckland.

We leave Masterton behind and very soon arrive at Mt Bruce’s popular Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre. Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre is New Zealand's most established captive breeding facility located in a pocket of ancient forest 30 kilometres north of Masterton. Set in 942 hectares of ancient Podocarp forest, Pūkaha is home to many endangered species including takahē, kōkako, kākāriki, hīhī (stitchbird), kāka and several kiwi including Manukura, the only white kiwi in captivity.

Following lunch in the café, we head north following the Tararua ranges to Woodville, crossing the Saddle road and stopping at Te Apiti Wind Farm look out. We arrive in to Palmerston North mid afternoon.

Tour Inclusions
B | L | D
  • Coach relocation from Masterton to Palmerston North.
  • Admission and Lunch at Pukaha National Wildlife Centre.
  • Farewell Dinner.

Palmerston North - Hamilton/Auckland

Departing Palmerston North we once again travel across the three deviations that formed part of the electrification of the North Island Main Trunk in the 1980s on our climb up to the central plateau. Passing through the once busy railway depot at Taihape in the age of steam, we experience the Turangarere horseshoe curve before going through Waiouru. After our train travels through Ohakune we cross the Hapuawhenua Viaduct, another notable electrification project. Horopito Motors is to our right before travelling through Pokaka. At Pokaka we crest the highest point of railway line in the country.

From National Park, we descend down onto the engineering masterpiece that is the Raurimu Spiral. We descend over 130 metres, in 7 kilometres, 2 tunnels and lots of curves, into the township of Raurimu. From here we continue our descent towards the Whakapapa river and from Kakahi, the Whanganui river will guide us all the way to Taumarunui. 

North of Taumarunui we pass the northern connection of the Stratford – Okahukura Line at Okahukura, a once busy junction of freight and passenger services. The Poro-O-Tarao Tunnel signifies the divide of the King Country and the mighty Waikato region as we roll down to Te Kuiti, our next stop. Views of Mt Pirongia fill our window to the left as we travel the rolling countryside and peat swamps of south Waikato before arriving into Hamilton. After farewelling those that joined us at Hamilton we follow the Waikato river through Ngaruawahia and the Taupiri gorge, before passing through more swampland in the northern Waikato region. Pokeno sees us start the climb up the Whangarata Bank to Pukekohe and the end of our tour with a late afternoon arrival at Papakura, before returning Glenbrook.

Tour Inclusions
B | MT | L | AT
  • GVR Tour Train from Palmerston North to Hamilton, Papakura & Glenbrook
  • Morning & Afternoon Tea and Lunch on board GVR Tour Train.
  • Sumptuous Lunch pack on board the train.



Tour Map




Our Accommodation

Ohakune | 5 - 6 November 2024

Ruapehu Mountain Motel

1 Night

Nestled in the picturesque township of Ohakune at the base of the majestic Mount Ruapehu. From the snow covered peaks to the lush native bush and the bubbling mountain streams Ohakune links you to all that is good in life.

New Plymouth | 6 - 8 November 2024

Millennium New Plymouth

2 Nights

The Millennium Hotel New Plymouth is located in the heart of the Central Business District with panoramic views of the Tasman Sea. Overlooking the Len Lye Wind Wand and the Coastal Foreshore Walkway, this property is within walking distance of many of the city's attractions including the Pukeariki Museum & Information centre, the Len Lye Centre and Govett Brewster Art Gallery, main street shopping, bars, cafes and the world famous Pukekura Park.

Palmerston North | 8 - 9 & 13 - 14 November 2024

Distinction Palmerston North

1 Night

The 5 storey Distinction Hotel boasts 85 well appointed guest rooms and free WIFI; it is the ideal Palmerston North accommodation choice for travellers who appreciates ocofort , convenience and excellent accommodation. The Palmerston North hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from shops, the museum, local eateries and delightful city walks.

Napier | 9 - 11 November 2024

Art Deco Masonic Hotel - or similar

2 Nights

Located on the waterfront with panoramic Pacific Ocean views, the Art Deco Masonic Hotel features free WiFi and historic Art Deco architecture. Guests enjoy 2 bars and 2 restaurants. It is 2 minutes' walk from the main street of Marine Parade and located opposite MTG Hawke’s Bay and The Art Deco Centre. Each individually styled studio and apartment includes a flat-screen TV, a small refrigerator and tea/coffee making facilities. All accommodation includes a modern en suite bathroom. Most rooms have access to a large rooftop balcony with ocean views.

Masterton | 11 - 13 November 2024

Copthorne Solway

2 Nights

Stay near beautiful landscapes in one of the best luxury accommodation in Wairarapa Located on the outskirts of Masterton, Wairarapa’s largest town, Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park Wairarapa is a refreshing retreat.









Per Person, Twin Share



Single Supplement



- 9 Nights' Accommodation in premium, unique stays - pre-booked on a twin share basis. - Activities, coach transfers and relocations as stated in the inclusions and/or as detailed on this website or in the brochure.
- Shuttle/bus transfers to/from accommodation as detailed, as required.
- 9 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches and 1 Dinners.
- Morning/Afternoon Tea on GVR Tour Train

- Airfares, connecting travel or other expenses prior to joining or after leaving the rail tour.
- All meals and refreshments other than those detailed in the brochure.
- All personal expenditures, refreshments, taxis, other travel and transfers, accommodation or related charges not specifically referred to in the itineraries as being included.
- Travel Insurance, which is recommended for all passengers. 

Join us on this epic rail adventure as we explore the stunning North Island. 

A full brochure, pricing and detailed itinerary are available on request.



To register your interest:

Fill in the Online Booking Request (Click Here).

Email: [email protected] 

Phone 020 GVR Book | 020 487 2665


^ Itinerary - is subject to change. The GVR, operators of the 'East & West Rail Tour 2024', reserve the right to change the content, location and activities of this tour at any time. 




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