A Reader Rides Three Kiwi Trains.
A regular reader and all ‘round good guy has recently come back from a visit to New Zealand and has high praise for the trains he and his family rode there. But hey! Let me turn this space today over to Drew for his interesting and enticing report.
We first rode the TransAlpine from Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass. The scenery is spectacular with many tunnels and high trestles. It is similar to riding on the Zephyr through Colorado. It is about a four hour trip … and it is easy to ride there and back in the same day.
The second train we rode was the Coastal Pacific from Christchurch to Picton which then connects to the ferry to Wellington. That trip is about 5 hours on the train followed by a 3 hour ferry ride across Cook’s Straight. Most of the train trip is right along the coast. I knew to ask for seats on the east side of the train and the Pacific was a stones throw away outside the window for about half the journey.
The last train was the Northern Explorer which runs from Wellington to Auckland. It is an 11 hour journey across the entire length of the North Island. Like the other two trains it is incredibly scenic and runs through a variety of scenery – oceanside, through the mountains, as well as countryside and farm land. It actually has a spiral to gain elevation at one point.
The equipment is identical on each train and is very modern. There are coaches, cafe’ cars, and an unique open air observation car. The coaches have huge viewing windows. About a third of the seats in coach are around tables …The other seats have a “normal” 2×2 configuration and are very comfortable. The cafe’ does not have sit down meals, but is rather more along the lines of an Amfleet cafe.
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My former partner in the advertising business rented a camper and spent three weeks in New Zealand. That was 30-plus years ago … and he’s still raving about it. Well, I’m convinced … the New Zealand trains have officially been added to my bucket list.