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scenic train ride on South Island

MA
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2 reviews
scenic train ride on South Island
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We are interested on touring both the North and South Islands of New Zealand in March of 2022. I seem to remember that there is a great (very scenic) train ride on the South Island that was on the don't miss list. Can anyone enlighten me?

10 replies to this topic
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1. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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There are 3 trains

The Tranzalpine goes from Christchurch to Greymouth and back in a day

https://www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/tranzalpine/

The Coastal Pacific goes from Christchurch to Picton and back in a day

https://www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/tranzalpine/

They are both running a limited service at the moment.

If you want to book at NZ prices check the process at

https://www.seat61.com/NewZealand.htm

The other train is mothballed at the moment. The City Council is considering its future due to no cruise ships which provide its main passenger source

The Taieri Gorge Railway from Dunedin

https://www.dunedinnz.com/visit/see-and-do/tours/heritage/dunedin-railways-taieri-gorge-railway

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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There are two very scenic train journeys in the South Island. The Coastal Pacific runs from Picton to Christchurch, and for about half the journey is right next to the sea. The TranzAlpine runs from Christchurch to Greymouth via Arthurs Pass. See https://www.railnewzealand.com/

Sydney, Australia
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for Fiji, New Zealand, Tasmania
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3. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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I would look at the Picton to Christchurch train trip that runs along the coast.

The TranzAlpine spends a lot of time in a long tunnel so not a lot of scenic parts.

Palmerston North...
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4. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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I am a suspicious of the "railnewzealand" web site as mentioned in reply #2 because of the use of a .com address (most NZ firms use something like co.nz) plus a date of 2015, plus Mark Smith of seat61 fame referring to "greatjourneysofnz " as the "official site of KiwiRail". The last mention has a tag "copyright 2021 kiwirail" at the bottom of the page. It really bugs me that an outfit called Kiwi.com rakes up thousands of complaints aboat shonky air tickets !

Christchurch, New...
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for Christchurch, South Island, Akaroa
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5. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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As mentioned above, both trains are operating on a very restricted schedule (2 trips per week) due to the lack of tourists. Your profile doesn’t say where you are from but assuming it is not Australia, don’t book anything you can’t cancel as it is not certain that our borders will be open anytime soon.

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6. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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I gave the direct websites for the trains in my#1. Do not use anywhere else.

There are a number of Rail booking sites which will charge you more.

The TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific

https://www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/coastal-pacific/

are not taking bookings past end of October at the moment.

Not sure where MA is, suspect USA and personally doubt tourists will be allowed from there next March but who knows.

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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>>The other train is mothballed at the moment. The City Council is considering its future due to no cruise ships which provide its main passenger source<<

Curse this pandemic! My husband and I had a trip on the Taieri Gorge Railway during our honeymoon back in 1997 and it was lovely. I think that must have been pre-cruise-ship-masses as I remember it being reasonably quiet. It would be sad if it was yet another victim of the pandemic.

Christchurch, New...
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for Christchurch, South Island, Akaroa
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8. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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>>It would be sad if it was yet another victim of the pandemic.<<

Too true. Whilst Kiwis often curse the tourist hordes and thousands of us are relishing the chance to see our own country in relative peace & quiet, many people forget that those same tourists support regular services such as Intercity buses (which are only just emerging from hibernation now that the Aussies are back) and the three scenic trains. Luckily the ferries were relatively unscathed due to the freight they carry.

Biggar, United...
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9. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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We travelled on the Taieri Gorge route with Dunedin Railways in March 2020 prior to Covid19 lockdown and thought it was enjoyable and good value for money. The most scenic sections are in the gorge itself.

We had specifically booked in advance a day when there would be no cruise ships in port so that the train would be uncrowded. (It transpires that the cruise ships were not permitted into port by that stage so every day would have been similar).

The same company operate "The Seasider" which runs from Dunedin along the scenic coastline.

Dunedin Railway Station is worth a visit in its own right.

Hopefully when tourists return these trains will operate again.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/AttractionProductReview-g255119-d11460649-Taieri_Gorge_Railway_Journey_from_Dunedin-Dunedin_Otago_Region_South_Island.html

Arrowtown, New...
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10. Re: scenic train ride on South Island
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Serendipitously, this morning there's an article about the journey, by train, from Auckland south.... Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific, and Trans Alpine.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/experiences/train-journeys/300315071/new-zealand-train-travel-how-to-go-from-north-to-south-by-rail

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