Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trans Alpine train trip

Last week, we drove to Christchurch to pick up our eldest daughter from the airport and to go on the Trans Alpine Railway trip we have been longing to do for a while.  It was beautiful weather, sunny and clear, so good views of the snow capped mountains and gorgeous scenery.
The train leaves Christchurch at 8.15 am.

and you travel across the flat plains...I didn't realise that the Canterbury Plains are NZ's largest area of flat land...750,000 hectares!!!
The train follows the Waimakariri River, a beautiful braided river.  The colour of the water is often an intense turquoise blue but because of flooding it was a bit muddied.

cold and frosty with mountain views.

we journeyed through the tussock land and dry beech forests,  Arthurs Pass is the South Island's highest altitude settlement at 737m above sea level.

looking back towards Canterbury at Arthurs Pass station. Then down towards the West Coast.

On the trip there were high viaducts and lots of tunnels. The Otira Tunnel which is on theWest Coast side was very long ( when it was made in 1923 it was the longest tunnel in the British Empire) and evidently unusually for a tunnel has a gradient of 1 in 3 because most tunnels are level.    When you think that these tunnels and viaducts were mostly constructed by men without all the modern day diggers and machinery it is incredible.  Also with one of the highest rainfalls in the world and the cold temperatures, deep snow in the winters the working conditions must have been very miserable.

We got very close to the rocks at times, a bit disconcerting!!

We had a very happy day, Greymouth on the West Coast is a historic gold mining town, time for lunch then it was back on the train and back to Christchurch arrived about 6.30 pm.  a lot of knitting was done and the soothing motion of the train and no driving or traffic concerns made for a relaxing journey.

There were various stops along the way where passengers could disembark and spend the day then catch the train again on the way home.  We chose to go from coast to coast but another time would like to stop at Lake Brunner or maybe Arthurs Pass and do some of the bush walks.

1 comment:

  1. I love the pictures of the mountains. I would not mind riding on that train.