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 mind.
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, via Arthur’s Pass, 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 the passengers which part of the journey are they currently at, with 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.
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, all the passengers stuffed themselves into the viewing car, leaving me 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. That’s when I was able to snap all these amazing photos from the Tranzalpine Train!
Tip: The beauty continues through the journey. So, no need to worry if there is no space in the viewing car. Sooner or later, it will empty out but the scenery won’t stop. Also, book a seat in one of the front coaches. The viewing car is the first coach and if you’re in the coach immediately preceding it, it’ll be easier to walk to it (as opposed to walking to and fro the entire length of the TranzAlpine Train).
Pictures From The TranzAlpine Train Journey
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 🙂Buy Your TranzAlpine Tickets Today
What’s There To Do In Greymouth?
Once in Greymouth, there are a few things to do. For starters, rent a car and drive to the Pancake Rocks and Blowhole at Punakaiki.
If you’re looking to spend a night or two at Greymouth, I can recommend the Alpine Rose Motel.
You can read all about our EPIC South Island road trip.