Jonas Rask Eilersen
The Overlander
Auckland - Wellington. New Zealand.
22nd September 2015

The Overlander’s route is known as one of the most picturesque train journeys in the world. Snaking its way between New Zealand’s most interesting cities – its largest, Auckland, and its capital, Wellington, The Overlander is the scenic route to discovering the North Island. Trains run almost daily, with an early morning departure from Auckland, arriving in Wellington in the early evening. It is said to be unmissable – we checked out if it really does deserve a top RASK rating:

We were greeted by a friendly Maori train inspector, who checked our tickets and asked us to leave our bags with a porter. The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly throughout. Our arrival to Wellington was bang on time, at 19.25. There was a short wait for the bags to be unloaded – but as the train is so small, there was none of the typical scrum on the platform experienced on other long train journeys.
Before we’d even glimpsed the views we’d heard so much about we were impressed by the ornate platform at Auckland’s underground Central Station: a work of art in its own right. The Overlander itself looks a bit like a toy train; only has a few carriages – and one of them is a baggage wagon. The train is fronted by a trusty, sturdy looking locomotive and the passenger carriages are towards the back of the train. The cabin is one big compartment and feels very airy. It’s clearly not the newest of trains (nor are the upholstery and interiors particularly well kept). However the windows are large (and clean) and there is ample legroom, making for a very comfortable journey. All carriages feature the same large windows – apart from the back of the train, where there is an “Observation Carriage.” The glass backed carriage gives access to a great view of the scenery.
RASK was gobsmacked, to put it mildly. The scenery was like nothing we had ever experienced – and all from the comfort of our seat. The tourist literature doesn’t give real credit to the magnificence of the sweeping views of rolling hills and farmland, the volcanic plateau, beautiful river gorges – a mix of true wilderness and small townships pass by outside. RASK also appreciated the brief stop we made at “National Park Station” – with even more gorgeous views it was lovely to get off the train and stretch your legs.
The onboard café was reasonably well stocked with snacks and drinks, and we were also given the chance to have a snack during our brief stop at “National Park Station”.
Perceived Value
A bargain - this is not just a sightseeing train; it's also a quite pleasurable way to travel between Auckland and Wellington.
This journey truly is one of a lifetime. RASK loved the intimate feel of the small train, and the friendliness of the staff on board. The highlight of course is the incredible landscape passing by outside. The Overlander gets our full recommendation.