Northern Explorer

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Northern Explorer
Northern Explorer at Wellington.JPG
Northern Explorer carriages at Wellington Railway Station in 2012.
Service type Inter-city rail
Locale North Island, New Zealand
First service 25 June 2012
Current operator(s) The Great Journeys of New Zealand
Former operator(s) KiwiRail Scenic Journeys
Start Wellington
Stops 7
End Auckland
Distance travelled 681 km (423 mi)
Average journey time 10 hours 55 minutes northbound
10 hours 35 minutes southbound
Service frequency 3 per week in each direction, 6 trips total
On-board services
Class(es) Tourist Class
Seating arrangements Airline style, alcove, and lounger
Catering facilities On-board café
Observation facilities Large windows in all carriages
Baggage facilities Overhead racks
Baggage carriage
Rolling stock New Zealand AK class carriages,
DFB locomotives

The Northern Explorer is a long-distance passenger train operated by The Great Journeys of New Zealand between Auckland and Wellington in the North Island of New Zealand, along the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT). It replaced the Overlander from 25 June 2012. Three services operate per week in each direction between Auckland's The Strand Station and Wellington Railway Station.[1]



The first regular daylight Wellington-Auckland passenger train services, augmenting the older overnight services, were the steam-hauled Daylight Limited and diesel-hauled Scenic Daylight, which ran primarily during summer months and Easter holiday period for many years from the 1920s onwards. The arrival of the Blue Streak and later Silver Fern railcars saw an end for a time to regular carriage trains, at the time of its cessation, The Overlander was usually hauled by DC or EF locomotives with NZR 56-foot carriages.

Re-branding as the Northern Explorer[edit]

In 2012, passenger numbers were in decline. KiwiRail decided to replace the Overlander with the Northern Explorer, from Monday 25 June 2012, the new service uses one AKC and three AK class carriages, an AKL class luggage van and an AKV class power/viewing van from the Coastal Pacific. The timetable was accelerated by eliminating intermediate stops except Paraparaumu, Palmerston North, Ohakune, National Park, Otorohanga (summer only), Hamilton and Papakura,[2] since October 2016, fire suppressed DFB class locomotives have been assigned to the service.

Northern Explorer near Waiouru
Hapuawhenua Viaduct, south of National Park


The Northern Explorer carried 39,419 passengers in the year to 30 June 2014; about 1,500 more than in 2012–13, but almost 23,000 fewer than the Overlander in 2011–12.[3]


External links[edit]