Tranz Alpine Train

New Zealand: Day 14 – TranzAlpine Train Ride to Christchurch

Tasman Sea to Greymouth
This is as close as the road gets to the Tasman Sea driving to Greymouth

The Drive

This morning we drove from Franz Josef up to Greymouth to take the TranzAlpine train ride back to Christchurch. This trip was north, rather close to the Tasman Sea coast, and the last 50 kilometers or so were directly on the coast, though the road is never immediately next to the water.

The coastline is mostly undeveloped, and the development that does exist is generally farmland (for grazing), and light industry. I only noticed one or two “subdivisions” along the coast line. The houses were generally very modest. Some were two stories.1

Regrettably, the train was delayed an hour. We later learned that the first train out that morning had encountered issues at the tunnel, which is 7 kilometers long through a mountain. The tunnel has a large door that closes. It was stuck closed.


Rusting Coal Car
Rusting Coal Car in Greymouth
Coal Miners Memorial in Greymouth
Coal Miners Memorial in Greymouth
Greymouth Wharf
Greymouth Wharf
Rope Pull along Wharf in Greymouth
2.25 Ton Rope Pull along Wharf in Greymouth

We tooled around the small town of Greymouth while waiting for the train. This is a small town, population under 10,000, that once had a large coal mining industry and today accounts for almost half of the entire population along the New Zealand western coast. Along the warf was a monument to all of the coal miners who had lost their lives in coal mining incidents. Many of the buildings along the wharf were from a bygone era and now sit shuttered and dilapidated. Greymouth has also placed some interesting relics from the coal mining industry along the wharf. These made for some fun pictures.

TranzAlpine Train Ride

Tranz Alpine Route in Red
TranzAlpine Route in Red

The TranzAlpine train itself is very nice—much nicer than an airplane! Traversing through the southern alps, the views from the train would have been stunning had we left on time. As it was, we caught a few glimpses of the setting sun in the mountain peeks along the route, but darkness engulfed about half of the trip.

Southern Alps through Train Window
Southern Alps through Train Window
Tranz Alpine Train
Tranz Alpine Train

We ended our day back at The George where we spent the night before our travel “day” back home.


Photos will be added soon.

  1. I mention this because I consider what we do to coastlines in the US to be tragic!