Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Crossing the Southern Alps on the TranzAlpine Train

On Monday morning we took the bus to the train station in Christchurch, and began a 10 day trip around the west coast and north end of the South Island.  The first step was taking the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand over to Greymouth, the largest city on the west coast.  The train trip takes 4.5 hours, and goes out over the Canterbury plains, on to the foothills and up into the Southern Alps, then drops down to end up along the Grey River and coast in Greymouth. 

The train ride is beautiful - one of the most recommended train rides in the world according to several sources we've read.  The terrain is quite varied - we saw farms, hills, river gorges, mountains, and several river villages on the way down.  There are also many tunnels, with the longest being 8.5 km - we were in the dark for quite a while.  Given the recent snow in New Zealand, not only the mountain tops were white but much of the surrounding hillside and lower reaches of the mountains were also snow-covered. 

We sat across from and talked to two very nice folks from Christchurch.  We periodically walked up to the open-air observation car to take photos of the passing countryside.  Willie, our conductor, kept giving us all facts about the route, with some New Zealand humor thrown in (example: "this area is noted for the spotted kiwi, which is seldom spotted").

We'll let the photos do the rest of the talking.

Entering the Southern Alps
A river gorge in the mountains
Paul outside the train at the Springfield stop
Another gorgeous gorge...
Snow capped mountains in the Southern Alps
The train at Arthur's Pass, high point of the tracks
Top of the Southern Alps


  1. Indeed! Spring does seem to be coming here - even though there have been some regression days, it's gradually getting a little warmer, the buds are coming out on the trees, and the daffodils are popping up out of the ground.

  2. I am loving your blogs, Paul, and the pictures. What a beautiful place!