The World's Most Scenic Railway Journeys

New Zealand

Series 2 - Episode 5 New Zealand

Friday 1:30am - 2:30am 5SELECT


Pack your bag and prepare to board the Northern Explorer in Auckland for a trip across New Zealand’s North Island to Wellington.

There’s big, impressive scenery everywhere you look, and the train’s passengers are so delighted and dazzled they do little more than beam with joy. Who can blame them? “It’s a much better way of seeing the country than driving,” says one. “It beats flying,” adds another.

The train trundles through vast landscapes, some lushly green and others volcanic, at one point winding up a steep incline on a spiral. And of course no proper scenic railway journey would be complete without some marvellous viaducts, and here there are three.


New Zealand's Northern Explorer, the longest-running passenger service in the country. The train travels 423 miles along the historic North Island Main Trunk Line on a 12-hour voyage and the journey takes travellers through some of the most astonishing landscapes of the southern hemisphere from volcanoes to coast and from lava fields to unspoilt islands. Historians explain the history of the railway and tell the tale of the terrible tragedy at Tangiwai, when over 150 people were killed by a volcanic mudflow that hit the train. Narrated by Bill Nighy.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Bill Nighy
Director Peter Gauvain
Executive Producer Tom Porter
Producer Peter Gauvain
Series Producer Clare Fisher
Nature Lifestyle