Tag Archives: TranzAlpine

Ain’t no mountain high enough (to keep us from Christchurch)

Thursday 6th November
Franz Josef to Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand

During our time in the South Island, we repeatedly heard that, due to the mountain range down the spine of the country, it is often the case that when it is raining on the west coast it is sunny in the east (and vice versa).  Therefore, we chased the sun to a certain extent during our time there, which meant heading back towards the east coast towards the end of the week.

Driving Franz Josef to Greymouth
On Thursday we drove back to Greymouth in the morning, stopping along the way for yet more photos of perfect glacial lakes, including Lake Mapourika.

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Bus and train, Greymouth to Christchurch
We grabbed a nice lunch in town, before our TranzAlpine journey back to Christchurch. 

Unfortunately a landslip meant we did the first part of the trip, to Arthur’s Pass, on a bus replacement service (an experience that was very familiar from home!). But this did give us the opportunity to see some different views, because at one point the train goes through an 8.5km long tunnel rather than over the mountains.

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We were also lucky that the weather was a little better than last time in some places, including at the journey’s highest point, giving us even more breathtaking views.

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On arrival back in Christchurch, we went for a meal in a pub in Riccarton, where we sampled a burger containing the “traditional” Kiwi accompaniments, beetroot and a fried egg!  I believe that MacDonalds NZ has just re-issued the “Kiwi Burger” for its 25th anniversary, although I can pretty much guarantee that the version served in the Fox and Ferret at Riccarton is better, despite the cheesy London Underground signs adorning the pub’s walls!

Road sign of the day
The driving between Greymouth and Franz Josef wasn’t too tricky on the whole (and we were certainly helped by the fact that Kiwis drive on the left, like we do in the UK). However, there were a number of single carriageway bridges, including one that was shared with a railway (trains have priority, in case that needed to be made clear!).

We were also amused by this road sign. Roundabouts? No problem. Level crossings? That should be fine, thanks. Roundabouts with a rail line going right through the middle of them? Excuse me while I concentrate for a bit…

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Highlights of the TranzAlpine train route

Monday 3rd November
Christchurch to Greymouth, South Island, New Zealand

When we were researching our visit to New Zealand, we were keen to see how much of the country we could enjoy by train. And the TranzAlpine route definitely got us excited – taking you from the east coast of South Island to the west coast, it’s widely considered to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. 

We were not disappointed. This spectacular journey leaves Christchurch across the Canterbury Plains, before heading up into the Southern Alps, then back down to Greymouth.

The train has the added advantage of an open carriage (cold and windy but fantastic for photos, as long as you’re quick!).

These are some of the incredible views we got to enjoy.

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Product of the day
Spotted on a box of cereal bars. Not quite sure how it feels to be ‘as happy as a box of budgies’, but we’re assuming that it’s a good thing! And if you’re wondering what jandals are, apparently that’s what Kiwis call flip flops.

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