U.S.FTC Guidelines note: we act as an affiliate for several companies that feature on our website. In some cases we may earn a commission from referrals to those companies. For further information please refer to our Privacy and Disclaimer policies which can be found in the "US" tab.

The TranzAlpine Train has been described as one of the great train journeys of the world.

Come and experience the famous TranzAlpine train

One of my fondest New Zealand experiences was a trip that my wife, son and I took on the TranzAlpine train, which crosses the central South Island from Christchurch, on the east coast, to Greymouth, on the West Coast. This spectacular journey, crosses the rolling Canterbury Plains, then passes through beautiful gorges and valleys around the Waimakariri River, before heading into the Southern Alps, through Arthur's Pass, then through thick beech rainforest before arriving at Greymouth.

The Tranzalpine weaves its way between the Southern Alps

How long does it take?

The full journey takes four and a half hours one way, and is 224 kilometres long. It passes through 19 tunnels, and over four viaducts, the highest of which is over 70 metres! Don't look down!

Amazing scenery

As you can see from the photos on this page, the scenery is breathtaking, particularly in winter. The train has an open air observation car which provides the perfect place for the seemingly endless photo opportunities available, and if you are anything like us, you will welcome having a large capacity storage card on your camera. You will need it. Your trip is a wonderfully relaxing way to see some of the best scenery in New Zealand, and sitting back in your comfy seat, having a local beer or wine (available on board), is one of life's great pleasures.

The ever changing scenery as you pass between Christchurch and Greymouth is really quite amazing. One minute you are in a tunnel, the next you pass over a raging river or through a steep gorge. The Canterbury Plains are a wonderful patchwork, but give little indication of the rugged vistas that await as you approach the Southern Alps. We were really blown away by the majesty of the South Island scenery encountered on the journey, and recommend the trip without hesitation. This really is a "must do" if you have the time on your New Zealand holiday.

Driving yourself? Include the train in your holiday itinerary

If you are hiring a car or camper van, we have a range of free itineraries which you can use as a guide for your New Zealand adventure.

Check out our 7 day South Island itinerary and our 15 day South Island itinerary which both include the TranzAlpine train.

7 Day South Island itinerary - to view it just click HERE

15 Day South Island itinerary - to view just click HERE.

How to book tickets on the TranzAlpine

You can book your TranzAlpine tickets right here.

Partial crossings (stopping at Arthur's Pass) are available, but most people choose to make the full journey from East Coast (Christchurch) to West Coast (Greymouth) or vice versa.

Christchurch to Greymouth

Greymouth to Christchurch

Or, you can combine your tranzAlpine adventure with an organized tour!

An organized tour is a great way to not only experience the amazing TranzAlpine train, but to combine it with some other uniquely New Zealand activities.

And having an experienced local guide with you can reveal so much more than you can find in a brochure or in a book.

Our recommendations

Here are a couple of the most popular TranzAlpine train tour options.

Our customers are raving about these tours:

1. Combine A Trip On The Famous TranzAlpine With A Four Wheel Drive And Jetboat Ride!

This tour combines thrills and serenity!

Combine the TranzAlpine Train with a guided tour and 4wd adventure

Board your coach in Christchurch for your journey across the beautiful Canterbury Plains to the Waimakariri Gorge. From there you embark on an adrenalin charged forty five minute jetboat ride. An amazing experience. From there, a 4WD takes you out of the valley to eventually join up with the world famous Tranzalpine train for your trip back to Christchurch. This is a full day tour (lunch included)and will put you in touch with some of the most stunning country in New Zealand.

To learn more just click on the banners below:

2. TranzAlpine Train And Arthur's Pass National Park Guided Tour

As an alternative to making the full east/west crossing on the train, why not combine the train journey from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass with a guided tour of Arthur's Pass National Park?

The TranzAlpine train snakes its way over one of the many gorges on it's journey

Board the train in Christchurch, then relax as you cross the Canterbury Plains and into the rugged Waimakariri Gorge and high country, then into the beautiful Southern Alps.

At Arthur's Pass you are met by your guide, who will take you along the old stage coach route through the spectacular Otira Gorge. How they built this road in the 1860's amazes me every time I make the journey.

coach route through the spectacular Otira Gorge. How they built this road in the 1860's amazes me every time I make the journey.

From Arthur's pass you pass through high country where you stop to view the Cave Stream as it tunnels underground through the rugged limestone of the surrounding alps.

View the amazing Castle Hill rocks from the highway. Or, if you are feeling adventurous take a walk to the top for views of the countryside.

Your return trip to Christchurch includes the Waimak Gorge, where the Waimakariri River flows into the Canterbury Plains.

Click on the buttons below to view full details of this sensational tour:

Acknowledgement-we would like to thank Tranzscenic for some of the information and pictures used on this page.

TranzAlpine Train Top of Page