Wealthy visitors could soon be touring New Zealand on an Orient Express-style luxury train under an ambitious plan backed by Chinese investors.
Train journey in South Island, New Zealand (file picture).
Billed as the "world's best moving hotel", the Antipodean Explorer would take 56 guests on a tour from the country's north to its south, stopping at tourist sites along the way.
The six-night journey would depart Auckland, cross the Cook Strait on the rail ferry and head to Otago with a luxury coach then linking guests to Queenstown.
Unveiling their plans at a joint New Zealand-China mayoral forum in Wellington yesterday, promoters hope the service is running within two years.
Initially 16 Auckland commuter wagons would be converted into luxury suites at Dunedin's old Hillside KiwiRail workshops with a further 15 later converted into a second train.
The project has been in the works for seven years and comes 38 years since a luxury sleeper train last ran in New Zealand.
Antipodean Explorer's co-founder and general manager Amanda Johnston said the train would stop regularly to allow guests to disembark.
"We are from regional New Zealand and we think some of the very best experiences for visitors are in those far flung areas," she said.
"We have identified up to 75 businesses up and down the country that we will be working with to provide those off-train experiences."
The company was keen to work with each region on the train's path to promote its unique food, wine, products and culture.
The project is a joint venture between its Kiwi founders and the Chinese development company Fuh Wah, which is building Auckland's five-star Park Hyatt hotel.
Ms Johnston said the start up proposal was a risky venture, but it had secured financial backing with Fuh Wah looking at the train service as a complementary business to its hotel and property investments in the country.