Yesterday I ticked a long outstanding box.
Mary and I did a return train trip on the Tranz Alpine from Rolleston (near Christchurch) to Greymouth. Hauled by two big DXC class locomotives, it rumbled into the station on time. The train manager stepped out and called our names, and saw us to out very nice seats in the bright clean carriage. With scarcely a sound, despite the combined 6,000 hp (4,480 kW) up front. The Dunedin built coaches are superbly insulated from external noise, and ride very well.
We travelled briskly across the Canterbury plains until we stopped at Springfield, after which we began the long climb up to Arthur’s Pass. The higher we went the better the views became.
This is by no means an express train. There are people for who it is the preferred means of transport between the East and West coasts, but for the most part, the passengers are tourists going across for the sheer joy of the thing. Just as well really, because the scheduled four and a half hour journey stretch to almost five and a half due to track work , and having to slot in with the many coal and freight trains coming the other way. At Arthur’s Pass, many of the passengers left the train for a stay at local accommodation, and the coal train that had waited for our arrival could begin its descent towards Christchurch.
In Greymouth, at last, we wandered the streets and admired the latest forms of transport (kidding).
Arguably, the homeward journey is simply the same in reverse, but I find I see different things going the other way. I spent a lot of time in the open sided observation car and got quite close to the bush as it whizzed past.
In places the landscape is downright mysterious, and I wondered what it would be like at different times of year. Several people suggested it was most spectacular in winter after new snow. I took several hundred shots and am certain I have not selected the best, nor been able to spend the time editing that I would at home.
We arrived back in Rolleston a good hour latter than scheduled, but well satisfied with the day. A striking sunset hinted at another good day to follow.