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Tēnā koutou katoa

This is all about New Zealand - Aotearoa - and the time I spent there. Magical times, beautiful scenery, gushing geysers, thermal wonderlands. Hear about Waitangi Day, discover the meaning of the word "Aotearoa", see the Glaciers, read about hangis and Hakas, and visit the beautiful Bay of Islands. So come with me on a journey - a journey to The Land of The Long White Cloud.
Kia ora


Watch The Haka

41. Tranz Alpine & Arthur's Pass

Saturday 13 January

Today it's off to begin my South Island journey. The shuttle stopped at the YHA around 7.15am to take me and others to the Christchurch railway station. Weather was cool but pleasant. People were milling around taking photos of the train and excitement was high.

The Tranz Alpine travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. On the way you can see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, and the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River.

Pretty much the whole way we had overcast skies, heavy cloud and rain, rain, rain! Which meant riding in the "viewing" platform (an open air carriage) was nigh on impossible. It rained the whole time we were on the train - except for about 20 minutes. But it really is a great trip. Strangely enough, a family member made this trip across the Southern Alps in winter this year (2009) and had blue, sunny skies!

The TranzAlpine

And of course I, along with countless others stood in front of the Tranz Alpine and "posed" - not a particularly attractive photo but, it's the only one I have. (It should perhaps be pointed out, that since my NZ trip I've lost heaps of weight!)☺
The train left on time at 8.15am and the fun begins.

Tranz Scenic offered 20% discount for YHA members when I was there, not sure if they still do. I can recommend the trip very highly it's one of the most breathtaking train rides you'll ever have. You get off at Arthur's Pass, everyone takes photos you have about 10-15 minutes before reboarding. I remember the train was longer than the platform.

Arthur's Pass

ARTHURS PASS is nestled amongst the Southern Alps in New Zealand's South Island, and marks part of the boundary between Westland and Canterbury, 140 km from Christchurch and 95 km from Greymouth. the train pulls in at 10:42am.

The pass lies in a saddle between the valleys of the Otira River, a tributary of the Taramakau, in the west and the Bealey River in the east. Arthur's Pass lies on the border of the Selwyn and Grey districts. Long before surveyor Arthur Dudley Dobson found his way over the pass in 1864, it was known to Māori hunting parties as a route between east and west.

You can see the heavy fog surrounding the station.

Arthur's Pass NP

The eastern side of Arthur's Pass National Park is characterised by wide, shingle-filled riverbeds and vast beech forests. The western side of the park, where wet weather is more common than dry, has deeply gorged rivers flowing through dense rainforest. Down the middle of 'the great divide' is an alpine dreamland of snow-covered peaks, glaciers and scree slopes.

View on left side

Southern Alps

Road Track and Mountains

Waimakariri River

The Waimakariri River flows for 151 km from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean

It rises on the east of the Southern Alps 8 km s/w of Arthur's Pass. For much of its upper reaches the river's braided with wide shingle beds. As it nears the Canterbury Plains, it passes through a belt of mountains and is forced into a narrow canyon - Waimakariri Gorge, before reverting to its braided form for its passage across the plains. The river enters the Pacific north of Christchurch near Kaiapoi.

Misty Mountains

The train climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth where we arrived at 12.45pm.

The trip is 223.8 kms long takes just four and a half hours. There are 16 tunnels, and 5 viaducts, the highest being the Staircase standing at 73 metres.

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