The train journey between the South Island's major city of Christchurch over the alps to Greymouth has long been regarded as one of the world's most famous.
From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland followed by spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth. The town is a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the always popular glaciers as well as being the home of ponamu – the Maori word for greenstone.
To get there, you will go through 19 tunnels. The longest being the Otira tunnel at 8 and a half kilometres long. There are also 4 viaducts to cross and a winding 'staircase' to navigate with real twists and turns, 230 feet above the seabed.
The equally famous story of the men who built the 223 kilometres of track through the Alps and endured incredible hardships is told as you trundle along bearing the fruits of their labours.
The train itself is heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer. It has seats that recline back for extra comfort and are configured into groups of 4. There are large panoramic windows and a separate open air viewing carriage for people who want to take uninterrupted photos of their favourite spots and a buffet carriage offering a range of drinks and snacks should the need arise.
It's about 4 and a half hours one way but highly regarded by train connoisseurs who regularly rate as it one of the best train journeys in the world. You can book at either the Christchurch or Greymouth Railway stations.
Troup Drive, Addington, Christchurch
03 341 2588