The Tranzcoastal Railway
After finding that trains and railways are less than inspiring in the North Island of New Zealand, I was pleasently surprised to discover that all is not lost in the South Island. In fact, the South Island gave me some of the most scenic railway trips I have ever experienced.
The first of these is the Tranzcoastal, which winds its way between Picton (where the interisland ferries dock) and Christchurch. The trip lasted about 4 or 5 hours, and the first half took us through the wine country of Blenheim, and then down to Kaikoura via the scenic coastal route. On one side of the train, the mighty Kaikoura mountains towered over us, and on the other side the Pacific Ocean was laid out like a table cloth. The train stopped in Kaikoura, allowing some passengers to disembark and go whale watching. The rest of us continued on to Christchurch through rolling farmland and more coast.
I saw penguins and seals from my window, and I lost count after going through 20 tunnels and over 170 bridges.
At $104 for a ticket, it was a worthwhile journey. [more]