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Travel Information:   The Northern Explorer (formally the Overlander train) Auckland/Hamilton/National Park/Ohakune/Palmerston Nth/Wellington & Wellington/Palmerston Nth/Ohakune/National Park/Hamilton/Auckland train services operates Auckland to Wellington on Monday, Thursday & Saturday & Wellington to Auckland on Tuesday, Friday & Sunday. For alternative Auckland to Wellington land travel Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday & Wellington to Auckland land travel Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday please click on the above Bus Services link for online times, fares & instant confirmation reservations


Quick Reference Timetable:

Auckland to Wellington
Depart 7.50am/Arrive 6.25pm
Online Fares & Reservations

Auckland to Hamilton
Depart 7.50am/Arrive 10.00am
Online Fares & Reservations

Auckland to National Park
Depart 7.50am/Arrive 1.15pm
Online Fares & Reservations


Auckland to Palmerston North
Depart 7.50am/Arrive 4.30pm
Online Fares & Reservations


Hamilton to Auckland
Depart 4.30pm/Arrive 6.50pm
Online Fares & Reservations


Hamilton to Wellington

Depart 10.00am/Arrive 6.25pm
Online Fares & Reservations

National Park to Auckland
Depart 1.15pm/Arrive 6.50pm
Online Fares & Reservations

National Park to Wellington
Depart 1.15pm/Arrive 6.25pm
Online Fares & Reservations


Palmerston North to Auckland
Depart 10.00am/Arrive 6.50pm
Online Fares & Reservations


Palmerston North to Hamilton
Depart 10.00am/Arrive 4.30pm
Online Fares & Reservations


Wellington to Auckland
Depart 7.55am/Arrive 6.50pm
Online Fares & Reservations


Wellington to Hamilton
Depart 7.55am/Arrive 4.30pm
Online Fares & Reservations


Wellington to National Park
Depart 7.55am/Arrive 1.15pm
Online Fares & Reservations



Other Train Services -

The TranzAlpine Train
The Coastal Pacific Train

Overlander train route mapThe Northern Explorer train (formally the Overlander) is a scenic rail journey through the heart of the North Island travelling between Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city - home of the Sky Tower,  through the central heartland of the North Island to Wellington - New Zealand’s arts and culture capital. 

Along the way, you see fantastic views of New Zealand farmland and the rugged native bush landscape before ascending up the world famous Raurimu Spiral to the volcanic plateau passing the majestic volcanoes of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu - the home of the North Island Skifields - Whakapapa and Turoa, descending down through stunning river gorges to the farming landscape of the lower North Island and rocky sea scapes to Wellington – all from large panoramic windows or open air viewing carriage allowing you the best possible views.

Along the way you pass the Central North Island ski towns of National Park and Ohakune, offering world class skiing and snowboarding on Whakapapa and Turoa skifields, popular with young and old alike. 

The Northern Explorer carriages have advanced air bag suspension system for quieter and smoother travel, un-tinted, non-reflective, panoramic side and roof windows to capture the dramatic coastal and mountain views of the magnificent North Island, GPS triggered journey commentary in five languages at your seat via headphones, plus information displays and overhead HD video and are centrally heated/air conditioned for passenger comfort.

Interior of a train carriage with table seating formatAll carriages on the Northern Explorer train are centrally heated/air conditioned, with either '2 Seat-Aisle-2 Seat' forward facing reclining seats with head rests or 'Table Group' (4 people around a table) seating allowing you to experience the amazing views of the magnificent North Island, through large panoramic windows, while enjoying the company of other passengers on-board.

The Northern Explorer train has a Café Carriage, offering a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, snacks and light meals.

The Northern Explorer train is a reserved seating 'One Class'  non-smoking service.

You can use your RailBus travel pass to travel on The Northern Explorer train, between any of the 'Point to Point' travel destinations between Auckland and Wellington. By adding a Cook Strait ferry crossing between the North to South Islands, you can continue journey south to Kaikoura - home of whale watching and dolphin swimming and Christchurch - the gateway to the South Island.

Coastal Pacific train with the Kaikoura Ranges in the backgroudThe Northern Explorer train operates -

*  Auckland to Wellington - Monday, Thursday and Saturday

*  Wellington to Auckland - Tuesday, Friday and Sunday

The Northern Explorer  train does not operate on Christmas Day - 25 December.

For the Northern Explorer train timetable.

Travelling on the Northern Explorer train is a genuine kiwi rail experience through the North Island's unique scenic beauty.

There are connecting bus and coach services from Hamilton to Rotorua and Tauranga as well as bus and coach services from Auckland and Wellington to other North Island destinations

From Auckland you can explore the beautiful Bay of Islands and the thermal wonderland of Rotorua with a range of suggested 'Hop On/ Hop Off' bus and ferry pass travel options.

You can use a Scenic Rail Pass to travel on the Northern Explorer train to any of the 'Point to Point' travel destinations between Auckland and Wellington. By adding a Cook Strait ferry sailing between the North to South Islands, you can continue your journey south to Kaikoura - home of whale watching and dolphin swimming and Christchurch - the gateway to the South Island or alternatively, you can use a Scenic Train/Bus Pass, that allows you to travel on New Zealand's long distance national passenger rail and bus travel networks, ferry services between North and South Islands and selected sightseeing tours.

Both Scenic Rail Passes and Scenic Train/Bus Passes are designed for the independent traveller whether its individuals, families or small groups who wants to get the best out of their New Zealand holiday and experience the true beauty and benefits of train and bus travel and provides genuine savings off the standard adult fare - so the more you travel the better the value.

There is no overnight passenger train/rail service between Auckland, Hamilton, National Park, Ohakune, Palmerston North and Wellington.