Exploring On Rail
Over the last few years of our travels, train journeys have been an integral part of our journeys. Time and again, we have advocated exploring destinations by trains and have shared the advantages of the same. While planning our trip to New Zealand, we had everything in place- flights, buses, rental cars and ferries, only trains were amiss.
Until we booked ourselves on the Tranzalpine Express, a train journey from Christchurch to Greymouth and back.
If you ask me, this wasn’t just any random train journey. It is one of the most scenic train journeys in the world.
On the day of the journey, we decided to get a little adventurous and started walking towards the Christchurch Railway Station which was a 3km walk from our stay in the city. Quite aWn exercise for the early risers that we were on that day!
After catching the sunrise and reaching the Christchurch Railway Station, we headed to the counter at the station and got our Boarding Pass for the journey. Our seats were designated on our boarding pass and within no time, we were on board the Tranzalpine Express.
Even before the train started from the station, there was a tinge of excitement in the air. There were comfortable seats, with large-sized windows without a scratch, providing a clear view of the outside. There was a Café menu ahead of us and a pair of headphones for guided commentary on the journey.
Just so you know, all across New Zealand, there are only a total of 3 operational train journeys- The Tranzalpine Express and the Coastal Pacific in the South Island and the Northern Explorer on the North Island.
Can you imagine only 3 railway routes across such a beautiful country?
Well, we were lucky to be taking one of those routes and that too the most scenic one.
Christchurch to Greymouth | On Board Tranzalpine Express
The Tranzalpine Express was divided into 4 passenger coaches, 1 café car and an open carriage to get a better view of the scenic surroundings during the journey.
The journey started right on time and we soon had a lovely lady from the Kiwi Rail staff collection one-half of our boarding passes. Within 30 minutes, the café was open and people started rushing around with their coffees and breakfast plates.
We were in for a 5 journey from Christchurch to Greymouth via Arthur’s Pass. And since our interest was majorly in exploring the scenic route, we also decided to head back on the same train, the same day to Christchurch.
Honestly, I was counting on the journey to be a quiet journey across a scenic trail in New Zealand. And I was hoping to catch up on some writing across this scenic path!
But within an hour into the journey, I sensed a little chaos of excitement. On finding out what the fuss was all about, I couldn’t help but be a part of it. The green pasture lands had been left behind and the gorgeous mountains with the colors of spring had begun to pop up outside our window. To top it all, the open carriage was now open for passengers to head up to and get the best view along with some pictures.
The Open Carriage
Soon, I too was on my way across the various passenger cars to the open carriage to get a view outside. Snowcapped mountains, freshly blooming flowers, green rivers, yellows and reds, grazing sheep, cattle by the mountains, tiny houses and more…
The view outside was straight out of poetry.
There was a chilly breeze as the train sped through the changing landscape. To sum it up in a word, it was a glorious sight.
But if you ask me, even that would be an understatement to what we were witnessing.
Phones, cameras, a wide range of lenses, GoPros and what not! People of all ages and ethnicities stood there taking pictures with a range of equipment, but ask anyone there and they will tell you how even the best of their pictures on that journey did no justice to what the lens of the naked eye managed to capture.
The Joy of the Journey
As if the grass had just found the earth,
As if the flowers have only just bloomed,
The mountains were still holding on to their snow caps,
And the skies refused to stop the dance of the clouds,
Such was the magic of the journey,
We had only just embarked on.
There were stops of the journey,
But no stopping the beauty.
Such was the journey,
Where words were many,
And yet all fell short to describe,
The spectacle that had just struck them!
To Greymouth and back | On Board Tranzalpine Express
As per the schedule, we reached Greymouth for an hour’s halt to take the return journey.
We were going through a mix of feelings- exhausted from all the beauty that we were hoping to soak in, and speechless that the journey of 5 long hours had given us a glimpse of such a vast range of landscapes that encompass the short stretch of this beautiful island country.
To imagine that all of this keeps changing and transforming as per time and seasons was a thought that added further fuel to our imagination.
On our halt, we had hoped to get a glimpse of Greymouth. I guess we were still lost in thought of the journey, we wandered about the little town only to head back and grab some snacks for our journey back to Christchurch.
Did the return journey get exhausting?
Does beauty get exhausting?
I can tell you for sure, I did not end up working but spent all my time gazing out of the window and lost in conversations. It was a comfortable journey with a view that I would not have wanted to miss at any cost. There were also some stops for us to get off the train and get our pictures against scenic backdrops.
You what added further to the beauty of this entire experience?
People from across the world were on board the Tranzalpine Express to experience the views of New Zealand. And you could tell from their face that there was no end to the joy of this journey that they had taken from themselves!
Some journeys can only be experienced for yourself to truly understand what they mean. And the Tranzalpine Express is one such journey!
Whenever you are in New Zealand, I recommend you add this to your list.