If you’re a regular reader of the blog, then you probably know of my love for train journeys. They’re my favourite means of long distance travel. I probably have to stop saying that but they really are. So when I heard that the TranzAlpine Scenic journey from Christchurch to Greymouth is considered as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, it was obvious that this was something we could not miss. It was also the best mode of transport to make our way from Christchurch to Fox Glacier Village with the final leg of the journey from Greymouth via a very comfortable InterCity bus.
The TranzAlpine passes through 16 tunnels and over 5 viaducts through some very dramatic landscapes of snow covered peaks, frozen glacial rivers, beech forests and river valleys. There couldn’t be a better introduction to the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
The first part of the journey took us through the lush farmland of the Canterbury plains. Perfect for honing our ‘NZ Sheep photography’ skills! We stepped out at the quick stop at Station 73 in Springfield to take a few photos with the backdrop of the icy peaks of the Southern Alps. At this point in time, I pretty much wanted to lie in the grass as if I were in a movie.
Following the Waimakariri river, the train gradually climbed into the alpine terrain of Arthur’s Pass National Park in the Southern Alps. To the east was a vast dry beech forest and to the west was a dense rainforest, making it a very impressive landscape. Sculpted by glacial action, the scenery of steep gorges, rivers, tributaries and waterfalls made this the most remarkable part of the journey.
The train arrived into the West Coast descending through temperate rain forest and made its way into Greymouth. After a leisurely lunch at a cozy restaurant called Speight’s Ale House, we were on the InterCity connection to Fox Glacier Village.
The KiwiRail Scenic Journeys website describes this as one of the top 6 train journeys in the world and it’s not hard to see why. I haven’t ever been as awestruck on a train journey and it’s no surprise because New Zealand is filled with mind blowing experiences and landscapes so perfect, it’s almost unreal.
- TheTranzAlpine makes for a very comfortable experience with an informative commentary playing that you can choose to listen to via headphones and a choice of meals and beverages available at the café onboard.
- The Viewing Deck is the best place for photography, although it can get quite chilly. As tempting as it can be to photograph every part of the journey, put your camera away for a few minutes to really appreciate the terrain.
- The brief stops at Springfield, Arthur’s Pass and Lake Brunner are great for stepping out to get some fresh air and take pictures.
- If you’re lucky to get fresh warm muffins and scones at Springfield, don’t miss out, they taste heavenly!
- Book your tickets in advance if you’d like to travel on a particular date, details are on the KiwiRail Scenic Journeys website.
- Check out my list of things to do in Christchurch and Fox Glacier Village.
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This post is linked to the #SundayTraveler series hosted by Chasing the Donkey & other cool travel bloggers.