The TranzAlpine train has been described as "one of the great train journeys of the world".
And of course it's also one of "The Great Journeys of New Zealand".
One of our fondest New Zealand experiences was a trip that we 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.
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!
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
15 Day South Island itinerary
To view the full itinerary it just click HERE
To view the full itinerary 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.
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.
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!
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?
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 KiwiRail for some of the information and pictures used on this page.