Luxury train to travel the length of New Zealand – unpacking just once

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The TranzAlpine is regarded as one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. (File photo)

A luxury train carrying high-paying guests from Auckland to Queenstown over six days could be up and running within the next two years.

The Antipodean Explorer venture is planning to buy 31 old carriages from Auckland Transport and refurbish them into “the world’s best moving hotel” for an exclusive 56 mainly Chinese guests.

The train would stop for two to five hours every morning and every afternoon at more than 75 locations. Guests would have to pack up and shift room only once, when it crosses Cook Strait.

CAMERON BURNELL/STUFF Antipodes Explorer NZ director Richard Aitken and co-founder general manager Amanda Johnston at Wellington Railway Station on Monday.

Antipodean Explorer New Zealand co-founder and general manager Amanda Johnston touted the proposed attraction to Kiwi mayors and Chinese guests at the New Zealand China Mayoral Forum on Monday.

It would use New Zealand’s existing rail network to show off the regions through which it passed, she said.

The 31 disused carriages were already fit for purpose, and “will be extensively refurbished over the next two years”.

They would be ready by 2019, the year of China New Zealand tourism, she said.

To the Chinese guests, mayors and delegates, Johnston placed her proposal as a way to make travel faster for those with less time, saying the rail network would allow the speed that road travel could not.

“[It’s] for visitors that don’t have four weeks or the information to drive around New Zealand. We will use the beauty and elegance of rail to show them all of New Zealand, tailored to their personal preferences.

“We’re here to invite each of you to work with us to develop this offering to maximise the benefit to our regions.”

It would enable guests to see the “best and the most authentic parts” of New Zealand.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the tourism industry, in terms of its relationship with China, was an “amazing success story”.

Thirty years ago, when he first went to China as a minister, New Zealand had just a few thousand visitors from China.

Today it had more than 400,000 Chinese visitors a year, he said.

“In five years’ time it will be double that number. There’s huge potential for us.”

By Amber-Leigh Woolf Courtesy Stuff.co

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