This Aotearoa New Zealand tourist experience is all about the journey.
The Tranzalpine Railway takes you across the South Island from Christchurch, over the Southern Alps, to Greymouth on the West Coast. It passes by plains of cultivated paddocks, beside braided rivers in beds of grey shale; along viaducts curving across steep gorges; through tunnels plunging into the dark heart of the mountains; past stands of ancient podocarps, alongside clear streams, waterfalls and pristine mountain lakes; through swamp forests teeming with native wildlife; and past lonely little settlements with empty streets and abandoned houses.
Plug yourself into the Tranzalpine audio commentary and listen to the stories; of how the land was formed mai rano (in the time before time); of Rotomanu, the lake of birds and Waimakaririri, the cold river; of the Pakeha who first farmed the plains and crossed the alps; of the workers who built the railway; of the people who gave their names to the towns along the way; and of the swagman’s ghost that still lingers in the Otira tunnel.
If you can tear yourself away from your window or the open-air viewing carriage, you can add to the Tranzalpine experience with refreshments from the Scenic Café.