Climb aboard a train like no other...

Our Scenic Journeys are designed to deliver a truly amazing experience of New Zealand. Our trains and our staff are dedicated to your comfort and enjoyment. Our carriages are purpose-built for New Zealand's historic narrow gauge rail network and designed to glide through the heart of our beautiful land, bringing you an intimate view of our world-renowned scenery through huge panoramic windows. So rather than rush to your destination, come with us on a journey that you simply won't want to end...

Sit back, relax and enjoy the journey!

Scenic Journeys are all about sitting back and soaking up the scenery whilst travelling in perfect comfort and we built our Scenic Journeys carriages to deliver exactly this. We considered every detail in our design to enhance the passenger experience, including:


  • Wide chairs with ample leg-room for maximum comfort
  • Revolving airline seats that are swung round to always face forward
  • Spacious table seats for groups and families
  • Panoramic windows with sky-lights, to create a light and spacious carriage with maximum seat-side viewing
  • At-seat commentary system with free headphones, to tell you about the places you are travelling past
  • Open air viewing carriage that brings you closer to nature provides uninterrupted photo opportunities
  • Advanced air-bag suspension for a smoother ride
  • Air conditioned carriages
  • Onboard toilets/bathrooms 
  • Dedicated tables and bathrooms for mobility impaired passengers
  • Licensed cafe selling hot and cold food and drink
  • Dedicated luggage carriage (to ensure an uncluttered carriage) and baggage assistants to help you with your holiday luggage (see Baggage Allowance page for details)


Spacious seating

Our seats are extra-wide and super comfortable. Furthermore, with all the windows on board, there is no such thing as a bad view!

The paired revolving seats provide the greatest comfort as they spin around to always face forwards. They also have much greater leg room than table seats and you can fold your tray-table away to make even more space.

The table seating is perfect for families and groups who want to eat, drink, play games and enjoy time together (please note that these seats do not rotate). 

Booking your seat

We automatically reserve your seats when you book your journey and then calculate the seating allocation the day before travel. We endeavour to sit passengers on the same booking number togther, with couples and singles in the paired seating and groups around the tables. However, this very much depends on how many groups, pairs, and single passenger bookings we receive. Our priority is making the journey enjoyable for everyone and we have a lot of experience in making the correct seating arrangements to ensure you love your seat.

If you are travelling with people who have a different booking number or have a specific seating request, then please email with your booking number(s) and your request.

Open air viewing

Imagine feeling the wind rushing through your hair, having that epic scenery within touching distance and feeling as though you were standing out there on the plains taking in the awesome sights. Well, that's what our open air viewing carriage was especially designed for. 

The outdoor viewing carriage also provides uninterrupted views making the ideal spot for some amazing photos.

If you're travelling during the winter months be sure to pack a coat and hat as it can get a little chilly, especially in the alpine regions.

On board licensed cafe

Each train has a fully licensed cafe offering a range of snacks, hot and cold food, beers and wines, teas and coffees. Whether you are hankering for a tasty muffin and fresh cappuccino, a cheese board with a glass of fine local wine or a lamb shank accompanied by a hearty beer, our cafe caters to satisfy every taste bud.

Due to licensing laws, only alcohol purchased onboard can be consumed on the train. 

View our full on board menus here.

At-seat commentary

Our Scenic Journeys voyage through the heart of New Zealand, passing through many historic and fascinating places en-route. With so many stories to tell of our nation, its Maori ancestry and pioneering history, we thought it was important to design an onboard at-seat commentary system.

When you arrive at your seat, you will find a pair of complimentary headphones waiting for your. Simply plug them into the the headphone socket mounted in the arm of your chair and tune in. As you travel, journey highlights, interesting stories, detailed histories and points of interest will be triggered by GPS as you pass through them.


If you have special requirements or require accessibility assistance, then please call us on 0800 250 000 to discuss your needs so we can help make your journey as comfortable as possible. 

Each scenic train service has two designated spaces available in the Café carriage. We also have an accessibility lift fitted to assist passengers on and off the carriages. Also in the Café carriage is an accessible toilet as well as a hearing loop.

Wheelchairs/Power chairs/Mobility scooters will be stored in the Café carriage for the duration of the journey. Our crew can assist you to transfer from your wheelchair/power chair/ mobility scooter to your allocated seat provided you have some mobility.

Mobility scooter/Wheelchair and Power chair restrictions are:
- Maximum weight on ramp = 200kg
- Maximum length = 112cm
- Maximum width = 65cm

100% Smokefree Services    

By law, all trains are designated non-smoking services (Smokefree Places Act 1990). Smoking is not permitted anywhere on board, including the open air viewing carriages. Most services include one or two stops where passengers may alight to the platform for a short break, however these stops are provided at the discretion of the On Board Supervisor and are not guaranteed. Our terminals and stations are also smokefree. 

Explore further...


A number of different locomotives will take you on your KiwiRail journey. The type of locomotive will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the train and locomotive availability.  The Northern Explorer occasionally makes use of the EF locomotives on the electrified section of the North Island Main Trunk...

Find out more about
Locomotives ›

Food & drink

All trains have a licensed cafe carriage providing snacks and light meals. The food on our café menus has been carefully selected to reflect both the old and new flavors of New Zealand. Cold, hot, sweet, savory, gluten–free, or vegetarian there’s something fresh and tasty for everyone.

Find out more about
Food & drink ›

Baggage & stowage

Our carriages are designed to provide passengers with a spectacular view of the New Zealand scenery as we glide through it. As part of this design, we opted for a glass overhead baggage shelf with a skylight window above it.

Find out more about
Baggage & stowage ›