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)||KiwiRail Scenic Journeys|
|Distance travelled||681 km (423 mi)|
|Average journey time||10 hours 55 minutes northbound
10 hours 35 minutes southbound
|Service frequency||3x per week|
|Seating arrangements||Airline style, alcove, and lounger|
|Catering facilities||On-board café|
|Observation facilities||Large windows in all carriages|
|Baggage facilities||Overhead racks
|Rolling stock||New Zealand AK class carriages,
The Northern Explorer is a long-distance passenger train 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.
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
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. Since October 2016, fire suppressed DFB class locomotives have been assigned to the service.
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.
- "Northern Explorer Timetable". KiwiRail.
- "Dash to catch the last train". Manawatu Standard. 25 June 2012.
- "2013/14 Annual review of the Ministry of Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency, KiwiRail Holdings Limited, and the New Zealand Railways Corporation". Report of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee.