The TranzAlpine Scenic Journey: Christchurch to Greymouth

Two Weeks in New Zealand
TranzAlpine Scebic Journey - check out the views

Last Updated on September 18, 2018 by Natasha Amar

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 onboard the TranzAlpine train, 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.

Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.

TranzAlpine Train Review

The TranzAlpine train 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.

Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.
Canterbury plains
Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.
Breakfast with a fancy view

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.

Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.

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.

Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.

Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.

 

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.

Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.

Tips:

  1. 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.
    Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.
    Our breakfast
  2. 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.
  3. The brief stops at Springfield, Arthur’s Pass and Lake Brunner are great for stepping out to get some fresh air and take pictures.
  4. If you’re lucky to get fresh warm muffins and scones at Springfield, don’t miss out, they taste heavenly!
  5. Book your tickets in advance if you’d like to travel on a particular date, details are on the KiwiRail Scenic Journeys website.
  6. Check out my list of things to do in Christchurch and Fox Glacier Village.

Where to Stay in Greymouth

Book your hotel in Greymouth or consider one of these.

Mid-range Stays
Paroa Hotel
Gables Motor Lodge
Alpine Rose Greymouth Motel

Budget Stays
The Ashley Hotel

Hostel Stays
Noah’s Ark Backpackers

You can check out my itinerary for two weeks in New Zealand. For general info to plan your trip, see my New Zealand Travel Blog.

Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.
Trains make me happy!

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Take the TranzAlpine train on a scenic journey between Christchurch & Greymouth on what is one of the world's most beautiful train journeys.

 

This post is linked to the #SundayTraveler series hosted by Chasing the Donkey & other cool travel bloggers.

 

Some links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you use them to book, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, which goes towards running this blog. That said I never recommend tours, accommodations and products that I wouldn’t book or haven’t booked myself.

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42 Comments

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  1. says: Pilot Mark

    This train journey was, in my opinion, one of the very best ways to discover the beauty and diversity of New Zealand’s incredible natural features. I loved my train journey, I loved the sights so much that I actually did a similar route by car soon after, just to experience the sights again at my leisure. I’ve actually written an article comparing the benefits of each trip.

  2. says: Amiya

    Wow, that’s some scenic journey! I already have the Trans Siberian train journey and the cross-Canada VIA rail on my bucket list. I might add this one too. Lovely pics.

  3. says: Franca

    Trains are surely the best way of travelling at least for myself. If you are stuck in a plane you’ll definitely miss all these amazing views which it would be such a shame. Plus I like slow travelling, when I don’t have to be anywhere in particular at a certain time, it’s the best way to take in as much as possible.

  4. says: Christa

    Hi it’s Christa, host of the Sunday Traveler, I just wanted to pop in and say thanks for joining in on the fun! Wowza! Those views. And your tips are perfect especially for first time travelers!

  5. says: Revati

    Wow. That looks like an incredible journey. We’ve always thought about biking/ driving through NZ, but with your experience, we may just do some of it by train! Thanks.

    1. says: thebohochica

      Revati, NZ is an incredibly beautiful country to drive across. That’s what we did with the exception of this train journey and a flight to make the most of the little time we had.

  6. says: Brianna

    These pictures remind me of the train journey from Seward, Alaska to Anchorage. The ability to relax and enjoy the scenery is one of my favorite aspects of train travel.

  7. says: Veronika

    How long does the train ride take? And did you immediately jump on a train back to experience it once more? 🙂
    I love scenic train rides too.. too bad that I sometimes fall asleep!

    1. says: thebohochica

      It was a 4hr ride and we didn’t take the train back because we were heading onto Glacier Country. But I’ve heard that the ride back is just as scenic. 🙂

  8. says: Karen Warren

    I love trains too and I really wanted to take that trip when I was staying in Christchurch, but I was put off by the fact that there was only one train a day and we wouldn’t be able to make a long stop at Arthur’s Pass. But, reading your post, I wonder if we made the right choice!

  9. says: Dave Cole

    Very scenic ride! I really like how they have commentary available to listen to on the trip. That was something that was probably very easy to produce that ends up greatly enhancing the experience for a lot of passengers.

  10. Natasha, your post reminded me of the very same trip I made awhile back; it’s almost like comparing similar notes and pictures! This train and other experiences on the South Island have only strengthened my desire to return to New Zealand. Thanks for writing about the TranzAlpine!

  11. says: Els

    I love train travels as well! They give you a sense of real “traveling” instead of just flying. Looks like this trip offered you some great landscapes!!

  12. says: Heather Cole

    Can’t believe you saw all that from the train, looks like an amazing journey, and great photos too…mine always end up blurred when I take them from trains! Maybe I just need to practise more 🙂