Our journey across the south island of New Zealand began with one of the most iconic train rides – The TranzAlpine.
“A train? Who takes a train in New Zealand?”
That’s what one of the locals told us in Christchurch the night before our departure. But when he found out it was the TranzAlpine Train, he changed his stand.
The TranzAlpine Train Review
The TranzAlpine Train is one of the most scenic and famous train journeys in New Zealand, if not the world. It runs from Christchurch to Greymouth and back in the same day. It covers the distance between the two cities in just over 4 hours. The journey crosses some of the most beautiful landscape – farmlands, gorges, and mountains – as it takes you from the east coast of the south island to the west coast.
During its journey, the train also passes through the Otira Tunnel – an extremely narrow tunnel that’s 8.6 kms long and was apparently built without any modern technology. The tunnel is just wide enough to accommodate the TranzAlpine Train.
Inside, the coaches are very comfortable. The big windowed cabins are built for a scenic journey. On the ceiling are screens that show display to the passengers which part of the journey are they currently at, with marked points of interest. At each point of interest, a commentary comes on through the headset, talking about the history of the region. I personally found it to be quite informative, and even fascinating at times.
Pictures From The TranzAlpine Train Journey
To make sure you get the most of the scenery, the coaches not only have massive windows but also a dedicated open-air viewing car. However, the moment we left civilisation and saw the first glimpse of gorgeous Kiwi countryside, the whole train literally stuffed themselves into the viewing car, leaving me with no place to stand. Fortunately, not too many people were willing to stand in the biting cold to admire the beauty for too long. After 30 minutes or so, the viewing car emptied allowing me go back into it.
I’d highly recommend the TranzAlpine Train to those visiting the South Island of New Zealand. Given its popularity, make sure that you book your tickets in advance via the TranzAlpine Train website. We most certainly enjoyed it 🙂
Things To Do In Greymouth
Once in Greymouth, there are a few things to do. For starters, rent a car and drive down to the Pancake Rocks and Blowhole at Punakaiki. Greymouth served as our road trip starting point. From here, we drove down to Franz Joseph, Queenstown, and then all the way back to Christchurch. You can read about our road trip here.