The TranzAlpine travels from coast to coast of New Zealand's South Island and is rated as one of the world's great scenic railway journeys. It travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, through the Canterbury Plains, farmlands, gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River.
Each day the train climbs into the Southern Alps, through lush beech rainforest, across five viaducts and through 16 tunnels. An open viewing car allows uninterrupted photography.
Catriona Rowntree loved the little towns the train passed through along the way, including Springfield, Moana and Brunner. The train stops just to pick up and drop off passengers.
At Arthurs Pass the stop is long enough for a leg stretch and photo opportunities. It is in the heart of the Southern Alps and the highest of the mountains have glaciers, tussock basins, flowering herbs and alpine grasses. Winter snow makes it all very beautiful, and passengers generally want to stay longer than the scheduled stop.
The journey is 224km and takes five hours. In the days when the Maori people took greenstone jade from east to west, it took 20 or 30 days!
There is a cafe serving hot and cold food, as well as tea and coffee. Each day, a lady from Springfield boards during the short stop to sell home-made, still-warm muffins.
The TranzAlpine is ideal for a weekend away or holiday highlight.
Between Christchurch and Greymouth on New Zealand's South Island.
TranzAlpine prices start at $65 per person one way.
Air New Zealand has fares to Christchurch.
One-way fares from:
- Sydney $218
- Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne $219
- Adelaide $423
- Cairns $479
- Perth $602
Prices correct at April 16, 2009.
For further information
Air New Zealand
Ph: +64 4 495 0775
Fax: +64 4 472 8903
Visas: Australians can enter New Zealand on a valid passport at any time without a visa.
Electricity: 230V/50Hz with an Australian plug.
Time zone: GMT +12
Currency: New Zealand dollar.
International dialling code: +64.