KiwiRail could spend up to $50 million on new carriages for its tourist trains as it rides the tourism boom.

The company is also rebranding its Cook Strait ferry and scenic train services under one brand, The Great Journeys of New Zealand.

KiwiRail's group general manager sales and commercial, Alan Piper, said a request for proposal for up to eight carriages had been sent out as the company experiences double digit growth on its scenic services as a result of the influx of overseas tourists.

The company was expecting to spend between $35m and $50m.


More than a million passengers used the Northern Explorer, TranzAlpine, Coastal Pacific and Cook Strait ferries during the past year.

Piper said this number was expected to grow.

The Coastal Pacific which runs along the east coast of the South Island through Kaikoura was out of action due to last year's earthquake and was not expected to be back on line until next year. It carried about 40,000 passengers between September and May but when it was brought back it would be a year-round service.

KiwiRail's scenic rail and Interislander ferry journeys had traditionally been popular with New Zealand's established visitor markets, such as Australia, Britain and the United States, but are increasingly being used by visitors from growing markets such as China.

There had been a lack of awareness among some potential visitors that they can be connected on one journey throughout the country, with KiwiRail offering both rail and ferry services, Piper said.

"Internationally it makes sense to bring our services under one brand. We've found that while people are aware of certain of our products, they weren't familiar with our entire offering." he said.