The acclaimed TranzAlpine train service between Christchurch and Greymouth will resume next month after being suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The service which last ran on March 22 will be back in operation from July 4 with special winter discounts to entice passengers.
KiwiRail says the service will operate a weekend and school holiday timetable in July and August as it continues to assess demand.
"We're conscious of how important this service is to the West Coast economy and we're looking forward to bringing visitors to the coast again, allowing them to see the snow-capped Southern Alps along the way," said KiwiRail's group chief Executive Greg Miller.
"This will be an ideal time for New Zealand families to try something new, and together experience what Lonely Planet has described as one of the world's ten most amazing rail journeys."
Back on track:
- During July and August, the TranzAlpine will run on weekends, departing Christchurch at 8.15am
- The return journey will then depart Greymouth at 2.05pm
- It will run every day of the school holidays
- All fares will be changeable, fully refundable and available at the winter special rate of $75 per seat one way
KiwiRail says it used some of its pandemic downtime to look at ways of diversifying its offerings, including introducing different classes of service onboard the TranzAlpine.
For customers who had already booked on the TranzAlpine at a higher price, a refund of the difference will be made available
"Our Interislander ferries and scenic trains play a significant role in New Zealand's tourism sector but 2020 has turned out to be difficult for all operators. We are focussed on our return, and on better days ahead," said Miller.
"We're working hard on options and opportunities, and are looking forward to making further announcements."
KiwiRail also operates the Coastal Pacific train between Picton and Christchurch, which does not run during winter, and the Northern Explorer between Auckland and Wellington, which is not currently considered financially viable.
Opening the TranzAlpine has been KiwiRail's priority for its scenic train services which, on average, carry far more overseas customers than locals.