Coastal Pacific train: Christchurch - Picton
Operated by KiwiRail Scenic Journeys, the Coastal Pacific service runs daily between Christchurch and the Interislander ferry terminal at Picton, throughout the summer season (late September to May). There is no better way to relax than to sit aboard the Coastal Pacific and watch the rugged East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island pass by, packed with farms, mountain ranges and beaches - all bathed in the East Coast sunshine.
The Coastal Pacific runs along a major freight route, built to connect New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchurch, to the capital, Wellington, via Picton and the Interislander ferry services. In 2011, KiwiRail added the world-class scenic train service to meet the demands of tourists looking to enjoy the splendour of New Zealand’s unique rock hewn scenery. The modern carriages provide copious room, even for families with young children and lots of hand baggage, and the huge windows provide stunning views from seat to ceiling. For those wanting to enjoy the fresh salty sea air, the open-air viewing car provides a taste of the outdoors and a fantastic way to take spectacular photos.
The Coastal Pacific departs from Christchurch at 07:00am each morning and begins its journey northward through the fields and farmsteads of North Canterbury. With the Kaikoura mountain ranges coming ever closer in the west, the Coastal Pacific joins the coastline north of Conway Flat. The journey on to Kaikoura is a picturesque mixture of rocky shoreline, turquoise sea, sandy beaches and mountain peaks. The track runs along sandy beaches as it dives in and out of short tunnels that pierce through rocky outcrops, and bring you incredibly close to the sea. Beyond the seaside town of Kaikoura, the coastal scenery stretches for mile upon mile, until the Coastal Pacific cuts inland just after crossing the border into the Marlborough Region. Here, the scenery switches to hilly farmland peppered with livestock, before slicing through the surreal salt farm of Lake Grassmere. The scenery changes once again as the Coastal Pacific charges through the vineyards of Marlborough (which account for 80% of New Zealand’s wine production), before stopping at the picturesque station of Blenheim. From Blenheim, the train winds through the hills to the port of Picton, where it terminates at Interislander’s ferry terminal, a few minutes’ walk from town.
The Coastal Pacific is the perfect way to connect between Wellington and Christchurch and tickets that include the ferry fare from Wellington can be bought online. For those with a couple of days to spare, it is well worth stopping off at Blenheim for a tour of the vineyards, then stopping again at Kaikoura to enjoy the sea life (stopovers can be organised online, on a single ticket). Those in Christchurch looking for a day out can also jump on the early train, spend the day in Kaikoura whale-watching or swimming with dolphins, before returning on the train early evening.
General Bookings & Enquiries
Phone (Within NZ): 0800
TRAINS (0800 872 467)
Phone (Outside NZ): +64 4 495 0775Fax: +64 4 472 8903
Monday - Friday: 8.00 am - 8.00 pm
Saturday/Sunday/Public Holidays: 8.00 am - 6.00 pm
Closed - 25th December
Coastal Pacific Train - KiwiRail Scenic Journeys Enquiry Form
Wellington Railway Station
1 Bunny Street
Phone: Outside NZ: +64 4 495 0775
Freephone: within NZ: 0800 TRAINS (0800 872 467)
Fax: +64 4 472 8903
Web: Visit website