TranzAlpine Train Journey
The alarm went off at six on this crisp morning, still dark and a rare event for us to be the first to use the facilities. Bear disconnected the electrics and off we went fifteen minutes later. The four mile journey was very quiet and we pulled in to find loads of spaces in the car park at the train station. Mable tucked in the corner, I made sandwiches and we ate our breakfast. The train is in. No sooner than the lights went on than you-know-who was off, one quick show of his IPod copy of our booking reference number than we were sitting in the waiting room, tickets ready. Rated as one of the top six scenic train journeys in the world, the famous TranzAlpine train travels deep into the heartland of the South Island, a coast to coast journey through some of the world’s most extreme and beautiful scenery from Christchurch to Greymouth.
We knew a little about the journey as it is on a dvd set I bought Bear about world train journeys.
We found our carriage just behind the café, then seats, waved ‘farewell’ to Mable as we rolled out at a quarter past eight. Through the now light streets. Settled in very comfortable seats, earphones on listening to the commentary.
The TranzAlpine is a passenger train operated by KiwiRail Scenic Journeys in the South Island of New Zealand, the journey is 223 kilometres (139 miles) one-way, taking about four and a half hours. There are nineteen tunnels and four viaducts, with Staircase Viaduct being 73 metres or 240 feet high.
The train became increasingly popular, and carried 204,000 passengers in the financial year ending 2007, this number has been badly hit since less tourists visit Christchurch since the earthquakes.
The train was introduced on the 22nd of November 1987 to replace the conventional Christchurch-Greymouth express trains, and became one of the New Zealand Railways Corporation's 'new' tourist oriented passenger services utilising refurbished rolling stock. Accompanying this new-look train were a new-look livery and rebranding.
Within half an hour the scenery changed. In 1988, the train won a Tourism New Zealand Award and was voted as one of the top 10 "short" train journeys in the world.
Then the scenery became amazing.
Then winter beauty.
Arthurs Pass is in the 1000 Things book. We will investigate further when we drive over in Mable. At this point three brake engines were put on the back for the steep descent through the five and a half mile tunnel. First time for Bear to have five engines for three passenger carriages, one café car, one baggage and one viewing car.
Looking forward to driving on that road.
Route: The train runs daily between Christchurch and Greymouth. After leaving Christchurch, the train travels through the fertile Canterbury Plains past the Waimakariri River along the Main South Line, to Rolleston. It then turns onto the Midland Line, which passes through the Southern Alps past the spectacular Waimakariri River gorge, via the Otira Tunnel and terminates in Greymouth, on the West Coast.
We pulled into Greymouth and Willy our porter suggested that we cross the road, take in the view, walk along the river to see the Miners Memorial - many from 2010, cross the road, walk up the High Street and be back in time to board the train back to Christchurch.
We did as Willy suggested. Looking forward to exploring Greymouth on our way north from the bottom of South Island.
Everything in reverse on our journey back.
ALL IN ALL A WONDERFUL TRAIN JOURNEY
STUNNING A VARIED SCENERY