If you fancy letting the train take the strain, the Overlander is a great and scenic way to get from Auckland to Wellington or vice versa.
The main trunk line between the two cities was built many years ago, but the scenery is just as good now as it was then. All up, it's a stunning journey which covers 681 kilometres, crosses 352 bridges and travels through 14 tunnels. I did the trip from Wellington up to Auckland and it was an amazing trip.
As we left the capital and watched Kapiti Island fade into the distance, I kept a look out for the dramatic white cliffs and viaducts of the Rangitikei River . The scenery was leafy and green.
That all changed when we reached Tongariro National Park, and we had amazing views of Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngaruhoe and Mount Tongariro - all active volcanoes. Mount Ruapehu stands at 2797 metres high and is the highest mountain in the North Island . It is home to the North Island 's two main ski fields, Turoa and Whakapapa. The train stops here, which is a great chance to grab some shots of the stunning scenery and breathe in some fresh alpine air.
From here, we left the volcanic plateau and climbed the impressive feat of engineering that is the Ruarimu Spiral. Then we headed north over lush farmland and bush-clad mountains, eventually working our way closer to Auckland - the City of Sails - which has more yachts per head of population than anywhere else in the world, well blow me down I never knew that!
The train has an observation carriage with lounge-style seats and open air viewing decks so you get the best possible views. All carriages also feature large panoramic windows giving sweeping views of the North Island .
The Overlander is a sure-fire way to capture the North Island 's extraordinary range of scenery in one jaw-dropping journey.
The Overlander takes 12 hours to travel from Wellington to Auckland or vice versa. Trains depart at 7.25am and arrive at approximately 7.25pm.
A peak timetable operates seven days a week from September to May. An off peak timetable operates three days a week from May to September.
You can bring a checked baggage allowance of two items per person, maximum weight 20kg per item. Extra baggage, such as surfboards, bicycles, will be carried only if space is available, at a cost of $10 per item.
Other scenic train journeys are available in the South Island. Check out the TranzAlpine from Christchurch to Greymouth through the Southern Alps, or the TranzCoastal from Christchurch to Picton, via Kaikoura and Blenheim.
A scenic rail pass covering all routes is also available for seven or 14 days. A 20 percent backpacker/YHA cardholder discount is available.
For more information call Freephone: 0800 TRAINS (0800 872 467).