1. The Tranzalpine train link between Christchurch and Greymouth, Aotearoa, New Zealand, is one of the world’s most iconic rail journeys
I know why. It’s a cliche but the scenic route is truly visually stunning. It is hard to capture the number of oohs, aaahs and wows that you hear. Both your own and fellow traveller’s as you watch the highs and lows of the terrain through the huge picture windows. The train has an plug in audio commentary for travellers to learn as they go along, I’d recommend tuning in to it. Embrace your inner tourist and listen to the experts, you really should learn something about the area.
2. You can relax and look at the amazing scenery without distraction
The route goes up to the infamous Arthur’s Pass high in the mountains. A windy place occupied by a tiny community. Some people go there for a day or three, no doubt to go hiking or mountaineering. I salute you. The terrain didn’t look hospitable, even on a sunny day. It is hard to imagine how bleak it would have been for ‘Arthur’ and any other pioneers. As we learnt on the train commentary the original terrain would have been basically dry grasses, most of the greenery we now see has been imported over the decades / centuries. Bleak indeed.
The ‘land of the long white cloud’ is illustrated quite clearly, although the weather change dramatically through the day and from one side of a very long tunnel and the other. The palm trees in such a desolate place was a surprise, especially when I’m told my garden in Sunny Donny isn’t warm enough for one.
3. The train has an open sided carriage to allow for clear photography
The very breezy and chilly open cabin is fantastic. Take your coat it is more than a bit nippy! Put your camera around your neck or on a wrist strap. You let go of it up here you sure as heck ain’t going to get it back! Don’t stick your head or hands out in a tragic selfie fashion either as unexpected bridges and tunnels pop up unannounced. I laughed at the thought of having something similar in a fairly mild UK climate, maybe across the Pennines. Our UK system is so totally dominated by Health & Safety it wouldn’t get past the drawing board. Well done to the brave souls allowing a truly immersive travelling experience in the open air.
I chatted with one guy who lives nearby and travels regularly in the open carriage just to get back in touch with his local area and its beauty. What a great idea. How often do you do that where you live?
4. It’s an education
Do you know what a braided river is? No, me neither until I discovered it’s one ‘braided’ by the debris and gravel brought down by the waters from the hills. They are dramatic, beautiful and a little intimidating. I can imagine the powerful waters just rushing down one day, taking everything in its path on its torrential journey.
If you live at the top of a mountain, where it rains, a lot, I guess you need a sense of humour. I hadn’t expected to see such imaginative art in a garden at the rail track, so who ever you are – WELL DONE!
5. It gets you from A to B, what more do you need
Oh yes, and the day I travelled was the day I discovered a strange jelly type sweet (I’m reserving judgment on that one, excuse the almost cannibalistic joining of the two dissected bodies) and Peanut slab! DEEP JOY!!! Anyone travelling in Aotearoa you HAVE to try it (peanut allergy excepted of course)
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