Head to the centrally located Christchurch Railway Station for your morning departure on board the TranzAlpine. Enjoy breakfast and coffee with a view in the Scenic Café as you leave the Garden City behind and head towards Springfield on the South Island Main Trunk Line.
You’ll roll across the wide patchwork expanse of the Canterbury Plains, which is New Zealand’s largest area of flat land. At Rolleston, the train turns inland, joining the Midland Line and heading towards the distinctive braids of the Waimakariri River and on to Springfield.
You’ll see the towering Torlesse mountains at the edge of the plains as you come into Springfield.
This little town is the last stop before entering the mountains on the route known as Arthur’s Pass. Originally an ancient track used by Māori for trading pounamu greenstone, it was named for Arthur Dobson, who first mapped it in 1864.
It is the next section of railway, between Springfield and Arthur’s Pass National Park, that is considered a masterpiece of engineering. It follows the winding Waimakariri River gorge, tracking along cliffs and steep banks through 15 short tunnels and four towering viaducts.
At Cass, head to the Open-Air Viewing Carriage for spectacular views of Mount Binser rising above the Waimakariri River.
The TranzAlpine will arrive mid-morning at New Zealand’s highest operational railway station. It’s a great opportunity to explore one of New Zealand’s beautiful National Parks. There’s a range of accommodation at Arthur’s Pass Village as well as hikers’ huts(opens in new window) linked by tracks throughout Arthur’s Pass National Park.