The train pulls out of the station chugging past rich green fields with red tail deer farms next to fluffy white sheep. Very pastoral, but the scene begins to change quickly as you leave the Plains of Canterbury behind and the Alps rise abruptly infront of you. the train crosses narrow bridges with deeply plunging ravines flowing with milky blue glacial water before bursting into darkened (seemingly too small) tunnels. The terrain becomes more rough and piercing while the train clackety-clacks around switchback turns bringing you closer to the clouds. Farmland gives way to flowering Lupines in shades of purple, pink, and white among alpine scrub! After the Inchbonnie stop, the terrain begins to change again as the land flattens out once again. Now you see the tropics and a rainforest as you approach the Westcoast.
Resevations in summer are essential. The train leaves at 0900 and arrives in Greymouth at 1330 but you can get off inbetween...like we did... at Arthur's pass for a few days in the mountains. Some stops require your notifying the train when you need pickup, other stops are routine.
A few things for you to consider:
when booking, be sure to reseve a seat that faces the direction of travel and try to get a seat with a table so you can write! The outdoor viewing platforms are not opened until after the stop in Springfield. We had a nice day so once the platforms were open we stayed outside the rest of the trip. I also recommend that if you are traveling with others....grab spots on each side of the train for photos. At first it will seem that all the "good" views are to your right ( direction of travel) but as you climb higher, there will be views on both sides of the train.
I think you'd be happier booking a rental car from the train station or taking the bus around for another view of the country rather than riding roundtrip.
Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
Bradford, United Kingdom
June 18, 2009
April 8, 2006
From journal Christchurch - Crepes, Gardens, and Kiwis, Oh My!
February 16, 2002
From journal Best at the Bottom of the World
December 26, 2000
From journal Christchurch -- the gentle city of New Zealand