Having decided to travel to New Zealand for the first time I felt compelled to include a train trip. Confining myself to the North Island on this visit I consulted the Man in Seat 61 and found the Auckland to Wellington (Northern Explorer) trip run by Kiwi Rail.
It was an early start from Auckland. Soon after we set off, the city dissolved into richly green rolling hills of the type likely to contain Hobbits. The countryside was punctuated by increasingly smaller townships. The carriages were immaculate, the staff gracious and attentive. A highlight for me was zipping up my jacket and walking through to the open observation car to stand in the bracing breeze watching the beautiful countryside stream past. For the real train buffs (I only realised this because of an exodus of said buffs from the carriage at a certain point on the journey) there was the Ramaru spiral and various viaducts.
Lunch could be ordered from and delivered to your seat. It was all extremely pleasant. Over lunch I raised a plastic cup of bubbles to the Man in Seat 61, to Kiwi Rail and to New Zealand in general.