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“Great day”

Coastal Pacific Train
Ranked #12 of 253 things to do in Christchurch
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: The Great Journeys of New Zealand operate three long distance trains and three inter-island ferries that take passengers across New Zealand in comfort and style through some of the most scenic areas of the North and South Islands. The Coastal Pacific train travels between Picton & Christchurch in the South Island. It's a dramatic tour of New Zealand's coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the breath-taking Kaikoura ranges. The Coastal Pacific journeys through 22 tunnels, across 175 bridges and past spectacular wildlife and marine-life. Coastal Pacific services connect with the Interislander ferry at Picton to provide onward travel to and from the capital city, Wellington. The Great Journeys of New Zealand also operate the Northern Explorer (previously the Overlander) between Auckland and Wellington, and the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Activities for older children, Food available for purchase, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities
Reviewed February 7, 2014

We booked our ticket from Wellington to Christchurch (and our fare included the Inter island ferry). This allowed us to book our luggage through as well. A short walk from the ferry to the train at Picton, and we were greeted by the Kiwirail staff. All aboard, the hooter sounded and we were on our way. This is indeed a true scenic trip as the train weaves it's way down the Kaikoura coast like a centipede, with highlights brought to our attention by the train crew. Train crew members Deon and Carolyn were fantastic, ensuring we are well taken care of. Good wine and light lunches are also available for purchase in the dining car, or bring your own picnic basket. A definite for your bucket list if not so already.

Thank WillemLab
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 29, 2014

The Coastal Pacific train goes from Christchurch to Picton at the top of the South Island but it is easily possible to do a return day trip to Kaikoura. During the 5 hours you have in Kaikoura there's plenty to see and do, a walk to the seal colony for one thing or just a walk around the waterfront and then lunch at the Peer hotel for another.

The train is relaxing and comfortable with friendly staff, a buffet car and a viewing car. The scenery, especially around the Kaikoura coast is magnificent.

Thank Beltedcow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 27, 2014

We were so thankful to find this option for affordable travel that allowed us to work our way to the north part of the South Island without missing the great scenery. This trip was worry-free since all the luggage was checked on the train and we didn't have to navigate ourselves, and our party of 6 (3 adult couples) was able to enjoy all the views and also nap. There is also a food car on the train so you can purchase drinks, snacks, meat pies, etc. You can also bring food on board if preferred.

The train is set up nicely so that it is easy for people to go to the back car to take photos if desired (it's the open-air car), and there is a running commentary that you can hear through headphones provided by KiwiRail that tells you when certain views are coming up. The conductor of the train also pipes in over the loudspeakers sometimes and tells you if there's something very exciting so that the entire train can hear (e.g. seals on the rocks or dolphins swimming along the coastline).

We took some great photos and enjoyed the leisurely journey from Christchurch to Picton... highly recommended!

Thank TinyWizards
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 12, 2014

I WOULD RECOMMEND YOU AVOID TAKING KIWI SCENIC RAIL. Save your money and take a scenic flight instead.

The infrastructure of the New Zealand rail network was design for freight trains, not for the scenic journey. If you want a pleasant holiday in New Zealand, do not take the KiwiRail Scenic Rail.

When a power generator overheated one hour into our intended journey, the Kiwi Scenic rail we were on concluded at a small town on the north island. We were left stranded at the remote train station without food and beverage (café car would not sell without power).

After three hours of misery and without any information, buses arrived and a mad scramble started. It was a free for all at the baggage car - all without food, water, information, or shade. The bus driver made those that did have drinks pour them out before boarding the bus.

KiwiRail management, after many discussions, emailed us the terms & conditions that allow substitution to another mode of transportation, despite the 700% premium we paid for the train service versus bus service.

KiwiRail is not setup like European rail to deal with issues, and it is the passengers that suffer. Odds are high that if you use KiwiRail, you will regret it on the day the service is supposed to be provided.

4  Thank SkiToSea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoebe L, Online Community Manager at Coastal Pacific Train, responded to this reviewResponded April 6, 2014

Thank you for your feedback on the Coastal Pacific service. We apologise for the disruption to you planned journey, as we realise how much of an inconvenience it is for our passengers when train services are bus replaced. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, we were forced to bus replace your service due to an issue with the generator which powered the train service. Following advice from our engineer we chose to provide a bus replacement to ensure that all our passengers could reach their destination. New Zealand’s passenger rail network is unfortunately not as extensive as those in Europe or North America which is why we aim to provide a world class tourism experience rather than a regular passenger network. We are sorry that on this occasion if your experience was limited due to an unforeseen technical issue. All passengers on the date which you travelled were issued with a credit to allow them to join on of our Scenic Service in the near future. We are sorry if you were unable to take advantage of this however if you still have questions around your affected journey please contact bookings@kiwirailscenic.co.nz

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 5, 2014

We took the train to Picton and the ferry to Wellington. The bags are checked in through to Wellington and it is a short walk from Picton station to the Ferry terminal. The trains were spotlessly clean and comfortable. The scenery was amazing and we got some wonderful views. The side towards the sea is the obvious preferred side to sit and you can call them a day earlier and make a request since seats are pre-allocated. The train itself seemed new and well maintained. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable journey.

Thank mva9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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