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In March next year, the scarlet-pained carriages of Sir Edmund Hillary Explorer will be setting off on a 13-day adventure. Travelling the distance from Picton to Invercargill and back to Christchurch, visitors will be treated to the grand views and the landscapes that informed the explorer's story.
With stops in Marlborough, Kaikōura, Christchurch, Mt Cook/Aoraki and Dunedin - it could be considered the 'Mount Everest' of classic train tours.
For the first part of the journey the Sir Ed Express will be pulled by a memorial locomotive, the Ab608 Passchendaele built in 1915.
In spite of being over 106 years old, the sturdy steam engine has taken several high-profile guests around New Zealand, including the a couple of Royal tours.
Peter Hillary, son of the explorer, said he was "excited to be involved with this incredible rail tour of the South Island."
The route holds particular significance for his family as a place where the family of mountaineers have always gone for adventure.
Beginning in Marlborough where Edmund Hillary trained with the RAF NZ - there will be chance to stop off in Christchurch, to learn more about his father's expedition to the south pole "crossing Antarctica using converted farm tractors".
"The Sir Edmund Hillary Explorer really is the way to see the south," says Peter Hillary. "Trains, stunning scenery and experiences and the spirit of the man."
"Sir Edmund Hillary was the inspiration for us when planning this experience of a lifetime in Ed's own backyard, Te Waipounamu, the South Island of New Zealand," said managing director of Pounamu Tourism group, Paul Jackson.
- For more information on booking and tickets go to https://www.journeys.odt.nz/