For the return journey we had the option of either picking up a relocation vehicle to drive north, jumping on a plane directly for home, or booking ourselves on the Coastal Pacific for the rail journey to Picton and then either flying or taking the Northern Explorer from Wellington to Auckland. A couple of times before, we had tried to fit in the Coastal Pacific train trip after the service resumed on December 1, 2018 – following the Kaikōura earthquake on November 14, 2016 that shut the service down – but to no avail, so that was an interesting option.
Then the thought occurred … why not fly from Picton with Sounds Air? I had done this many years ago (in quite turbulent conditions as it happened). So our thinking was … let’s get off the train, hop on the 3.10pm flight from Sounds Air to Wellington and connect with a flight to Auckland – home by 7pm if we were smart about it. A few phone calls to check out the flights and it was all organised. Sounds Air made it even easier as they pick up passengers from their Picton office. I was so surprised at the costs: we flew at short notice so $120 each, but if you book ahead that goes down to $59 per person (dependent upon the day of the flight). That’s similar to or cheaper than a ferry ticket on either carrier, so price-wise this is absolutely an option. Costs for the train range from $89 to $159 depending on time of year and booking.