Northern Explorer

Experience the extremes of New Zealand’s scenery, from the fertile farmlands of Waikato to the volcanic peaks of the Central Plateau and the sparkling Kapiti coast.

explorer journey

The Journey

New Zealand's longest running passenger service, the Northern Explorer is a long distance scenic train service running between Auckland and Wellington, stopping at Palmerston North, Ohakune, National Park and Hamilton.

The journey through Tongariro National Park, with its three spectacular volcanic mountains – Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu – is a highlight, a place of extremes and surprises, where snow-blanketed fields, ancient lava flows and dense beech forests can be seen side by side.


Auckland Wellington
Operating times

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I reserve a seat?

When you make a booking we automatically reserve your seats. The day prior to travel we allocate all seats and print the boarding passes so that they are ready for your arrival. If you have a special seating request, for example you want to be seated with another booking or have a group of 3 or more and don’t want to be seated at a table, then please email us on with the booking number(s) and instructions.

Which seats are better?

There are no bad seats on our trains. The paired seating is rotated prior to boarding so that all seats face the direction of travel. The paired seating provides a huge amount of legroom and a large flip-down tray-table for your personal use. If you are a family/group of three or four, then we will try to sit you around a table (which sits four). This allows you to enjoy the journey together as a group, play games and share food and drink. However, with table seating two people will be sat facing against the direction of travel and the legroom is shared with the person opposite you. If you are a group of three or four and don’t want to be sat around a table then please email us on with the booking number(s) and instructions.

All seats have New Zealand 3-pin power sockets and a headphone socket for listening to the onboard commentary (headphones are supplied). 

Is there long term parking at the Station?

To find out information about you departure and arrival station, including long and short term parking, please see our Stations pages.