South Island New Zealand Great Train Trips
Relax and absorb the diverse scenery on the TranzAlpine rail journey. Kiwi Rail’s scenic train day trip from Christchurch to Greymouth (or reverse) is one of the world’s great train journeys. You’ll pass the rolling farmland of the Canterbury plains climbing steadily through sub-alpine landscapes to the breath-taking Arthurs Pass National Park. It is a journey of a lifetime. The TranzAlpine train passes through the Arthur’s Pass National Park and finishes the journey on the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand.
The TranzAlpine train winds its way past the stunning Lake Brunner with a stop at Moana heritage railway station and with glimpses of the majesty of the west coast’s lush subtropical rainforest. Panoramic windows means guests do not miss any of the spectacular views as they pass by.
Tranz Alpine Train
The TranzAlpine is a #nzmustdo holiday activity. The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great train journeys covering 223 kilometers one-way, taking just under 5 hours. You’ll pass the rolling farmland of the Canterbury plains climbing steadily through sub-alpine landscapes to the breath-taking Arthur’s Pass National Park. It is a journey of a lifetime.
TranzAlpine top sights
- Waimakariri River is one of the first natural attractions that passengers will see upon departing Christchurch. The beauty of a braided river is very visible from the comfort of the TranzAlpine
- Craigieburn Range, part of the Southern Alps is a majestic contrast to the lush rolling farmland of the Canterbury plains. The Craigieburn Range is set within the southern banks of the Waimakariri River.
- Lake Brunner. Lake Brunner lies 37 kilometres (23 miles) southeast of Greymouth and is the largest lake in the northwestern South Island.
- The Otira River and Otira tunnel is a climax as the train departs from Arthur’s Pass station. The river and the sheer size of the viaduct is clearly viewed as you slide into the last part of the journey. The train thunders into the Otira Tunnel – the longest of the 16 tunnels on the trip
- Grey River welcomes travellers to Greymouth and is the final river crossing before arriving at the Greymouth Railway Station.
Arthur’s Pass village and its national park are arguably the most popular tourist attraction on the TranzAlpine route. Many people get off the train at this station, which lies right at the heart of the Southern Alps, to explore the park’s expansive walking trails and admire the natural highlights on show. Braided rivers, steep alpine ranges and the breathtaking Devil’s Punch Waterfall are some of the scenic highlights visitors are lucky enough to view for themselves.
Get your camera ready for TranzAlpine scenic highlights
Most Scenic Parts of the TranzAlpine Train Journey
TranzAlpine crew are excellent at notifying passengers of upcoming photo opportunities and together with the large windows and views you will not miss out.
- Crossing the viaducts between Springfield and Craigieburn (including the 72m high Staircase Viaduct)
- Just after leaving Springfield with Mt Torlesse in the background.
- Crossing the Waimakariri River after Springfield. The braided river is a weave of grey glacial stones and glinting shallow river beds.
- The train is largely a non-stop service unless you have booked a tour or stop. There is one regular stop at Arthurs Pass. You can’t get off unless you have pre-booked a tour and / or stop. A favourite choice for independent visitors to disembark is Moana (Lake Brunner) for travellers.
- You can take your own food and drink but not alcohol.
- The best time of year to go is in the middle of winter when the Southern Alps are covered in snow.
- You can travel one way or return and you can board the train at any of the official stops
Most visitors join a guided tour with return journey (to Christchurch) coach stops such as Elephant Rocks, Castlepoint and Arthur’s Pass National Park as part of the all day tour highlights.
The Tranzalpine rail journey is definitively the way to arrive in style in Greymouth, West Coast
Greymouth visitor centre – location railway station
Greymouth Visitor Centre is inside the station. They offer a free reservation service for all activities, tours, accommodation and transport. Those services include TranzAlpine Train, and Intercity buses, Atomic Shuttles, West Coast Shuttles, Naked Bus, InterIslander and Bluebridge Ferry.
Greymouth, West Coast top sights:
- Local brewer, Monteith’s is a New Zealand legend
- Coal Creek Waterfalls
- Delve into the stories of heritage gold mining towns from Runanga Miners Hall to the quirky village of Blackball
- Enjoy gold panning in Ross amidst mining relics
- Greymouth heritage precinct walk
- Brunner Mine Site and the story of the disaster that claimed 65 lives
- Shantytown replica nineteenth century village, stagecoach rides, a recreated Victorian main street
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