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5 Reasons To Take A TranzAlpine Journey

The South Island is hard to traverse from east to west, with less than a few places where you can drive across the centre of the island. Starting in Christchurch on the east coast and travelling to Greymouth on the west – or the other way – the...
08 June, 2018TranzAlpine at Springfield Approaching The Alps

The South Island is hard to traverse from east to west, with less than a few places where you can drive across the centre of the island. Starting in Christchurch on the east coast and travelling to Greymouth on the west – or the other way – the TranzAlpine Railway is a five hour train journey that passes through spectacular scenery. If you are on a coach tour that offers the TranzAlpine Railway as an excursion it is worth considering, not just because it is a break from the coach.

Here are some of the reasons why.

Spectacular Scenery

Many of the tours that start in Christchurch will include a journey on the TranzAlpine Railway from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass. Whichever way you travel on the TranzAlpine Railway you will be engrossed in the spectacular, snow-capped, misty mountain scenery of the Southern Alps and the contrasting vastness of the Canterbury Plains. Travelling from Christchurch you will cross the patchwork of the Canterbury Plains before the steep ascent into the alps begins. You will wonder how the train is going to get past the seemingly impenetrable barrier the Alps appear to be.

TranzAlpine Railway

Viaducts and Tunnels

During the ascent to the high plains of Craigieburn, the train passes through 15 tunnels and over four dramatic viaducts, including the spectacular 72 metre high Staircase Viaduct. The Otira Tunnel separates the Canterbury Plains from the Alps and extends 8.5 kilometres from Arthur’s Pass to Otira. These engineering feats create stunning scenic moments. The track between Springfield and Arthur’s Pass is considered the one of the highlights of the journey.TranzAlpine Crossing Staircase Viaduct

Arthurs Pass

Arthur's Pass is the halfway point of the journey and a great opportunity to get off the train to stretch your legs. Not to be beaten, the freshest of air and surrounding views are breathtaking from trackside. The area is elevated 740 metres above sea level and surrounded by beech forest and mountains. The Arthurs Pass National Park is a mecca for hiking and short walks of all levels.

Arthurs Pass Stop

Lakes and Rivers

The icey blue waters of the Waimakariri River and gorge are a highlight of the journey from Christchurch. Lake Brunner, halfway between Arthur’s Pass and Greymouth, is a scenic stop along the way. The calm waters of the lake look to the stunning peaks of the alps creating an idyllic lakeside scene. The journey crosses numerous river valleys. The track from the Otira River and the Taramakau River has the train travelling snugly between mountainous hills and the riverbeds that run beside the tracks.

TranzAlpine Alongside Waimakariri River

The Train

The train is as much the experience as the scenery. The TranzAlpine carriages are designed to give you the ultimate scenic journey. The large, reclining seats face forward in the direction of travel with abundant legroom. Plug in the headphones for the informative onboard commentary. Skylights and wide panoramic windows the length of the carriage bring in the scenery as you recline and relax. Step into the viewing carriage to breath crisp alpine air and snap endless photos of uninterrupted vistas. With a licensed café on board you can enjoy a meal and snacks en route.

Most of the popular New Zealand tours include the TranzAlpine Railway on their New Zealand tours. If you are only touring the South Island you will also find tours that include this spectacular train journey.

The TranzAlpine Railway is five hours of your life that you wont regret. All aboard!

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