A trip on the TranzAlpine

Station ViewA mountain range runs down the spine of New Zealand’s South Island. Cutting through this rural landscape is a rail track connecting Christchurch in the east, and Greymouth in the west; the TranzAlpine railway runs for 139 miles and is regarded by many as one of the world’s greatest train journeys because of the scenery it travels through.

The four and a half hour trip begins in Christchurch, capital of the South Island. The station itself is situated on the edge of the open countryside, with snow topped mountains visible in the distance. This is just a taste of the journey ahead. On leaving Christchurch, the passenger train travels out over the Canterbury Plains, an expanse of draught prone farmland creating a patchwork of different colours.

TranzAlpine2The trail continues along the ice fed Waimakariri River before travelling up into the Southern Alps. The ascent offers fantastic views of mountain peaks and open countryside; the train itself has an outdoor viewing platform so passengers can experience the cold mountain air and take some memorable photographs.

The train moves on into Arthur’s Pass National Park, which has spectacular hiking trails. Various stations allow passengers to disembark where they please, and the park is popular with everyone due to the range of short walks and summit climbs. Lord of the Rings was famously filmed in New Zealand, and some of the locations can be seen near Arthur’s Pass. The Pass itself is situated 737 metres above sea level, and the train stops here to allow passengers a quick look around the high altitude settlement.

TranzAlpine1As the route moves on towards Greymouth, admire the engineering of the many tunnels carved through the mountainside as the scenery changes to tussock grassland before changing again into rainforest. Greymouth is the largest town in the West Coast region, and derives its name from its location on the Grey River; the TranzAlpine terminates here allowing passengers the opportunity to visit the shops and restaurants within. TranzAlpine3

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