The Overlander

We’re tourists in our own country riding on the Overlander – the NZ Transenic train that runs from Auckland to Wellington – 12 hours. We’re not going the whole way, just as far as Hamilton seeing as getting from Auckland to Whakatane is ridiculously expensive to travel by one-way rental car or flights. So Orange Sister and niece are picking us up off the train in Hamilton and Mother and Father are driving up to join us for brunch and take us back to Awakeri.

Overlander journey

The train feels almost like a 2nd class form of travel. I had these romantic notions of a flash train, nice comfy seats, wifi and electrical outlets – when there was talk of canceling the Overlander service and there was so much fuss because it was a great New Zealand journey, I thought they might’ve spruced it up a bit to make it so. But no, the carriages smell like a musty old railway station, the seats are rock hard (we’re only on them for 2.5 hours (why it takes that long to get from Auckland to Hamilton I don’t know!) so I have no idea how you’d sit on them for 12 hours), there’s no wifi (I’m typing this to post later), nowhere to plug in a laptop and the windows are filthy so photographing out the windows isn’t ideal and literally 2 minutes before we departed the driver was asleep.

Overlander journey

We’ve also been treated to some good old Kiwi public announcements while onboard. Some clangers like ‘arks’ one of the staff instead of ‘ask’; commentary about the ‘vocanoes’ that we’ll see on the way; misuse and overuse of the word journey – trying to glam up the rickety ride by referring to journey instead of train which sounded rather odd when we were told that the emergency brake would stop the journey immediately (I take that to mean that when the train stops you have to get off and will no longer reach your destination) and a cringing abundance of the word beautiful, long and drawn out, our beautiful country, the beautiful journey, some beautiful scenery, the beautiful volcanoes vocaones – really justifying the decision to keep the journey running and spending of $68 to get to Hamilton. However, the train is full, everyone is enjoying their $8 wraps or traditional Railways Pies from the cafe and by the conversations a fair few of them seem to be on the full beautiful 12-hour journey to to Wellington. Not sure how much that cost but with the rocketing air fares in New Zealand lately I guess it’s an alternative, beautiful journey. As we pulled into Hamilton and heard about the zoo and gardens and other things to do around New Zealand’s biggest inland city, we heard about the local craft market happening today – “from 6.30am and ends until 2pm”. What?


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