A half-day journey of such wonder like the TranzAlpine train should be enjoyed and savoured with some famous TranzAlpine stopovers. To extend your experience, think about lengthening your Christchurch to Greymouth train trip by breaking your journey and enjoy a couple of the tremendous stops along the way.
Hopping off along the way on your South Island train journey allows you to experience small off the beaten track locations, engage with local communities and enjoy activities and accommodation unique to that locality. More than anything else, you have the chance to really capture the essence of the country through which you are travelling. As long as you advise us more than three days prior to travel, you can stop at selected stations and re-board at a later date completely free of charge.
Arthur’s Pass is a small village nestled amongst the Southern Alps, 5kms south of the mountain pass of the same name. It was previously known as Camping Flat or Bealey Flats and is the most logical of the TranzAlpine stopovers.
European settlers explored the Canterbury side of the Southern Alps first in the 1850’s to find open tussock-land for sheep grazing. Looking for a quick route to the West Coast, under instruction of The Chief Surveyor of the Canterbury Region, Arthur Dobson surveyed Arthur’s Pass in February 1864.
When miners discovered gold on the West Coast, Dobson’s survey work took new significance. The race was on to find a route to bring gold to Canterbury and the road across Arthur’s Pass was built remarkably quickly during the very cold winter in 1865.
The railway from Christchurch (Rolleston) to Greymouth, known as the Midland Line took longer to build and with the completion of the Otira tunnel, was finished in 1923. Very quickly, people began to take the train to Arthur’s Pass to go skiing, tramping and climbing. By 1929, Arthur’s Pass was gazetted as a National Park.
Christchurch climbers and trampers began exploring and mapping the area and the formation of the clubs led to the building of huts in the back country. As railway tunnel workers left Arthur’s Pass village, people interested in the area’s natural value bought their houses and today, the destination continues to thrive as a gateway to access many of the walks and tramps that surround this area.
At 1,833 metres, Avalanche Peak is one such walk where you will be welcomed by spectacular views at the summit of Avalanche Peak. To reach the top you can do this as an enjoyable loop walk going up Avalanche peak and back down Scott’s track. 360 degree views greet you at the top and the possibility of sharing your time with keas means this is an amazing trek to do! Allow yourself 6-8 hours as some parts can be steep as you climb 1,100 metres from Arthur’s Pass village. Please look it up and have it on your bucket list for an Arthur’s Pass must do. If you have done it, let us know about your experience!
For those who complete the walk and are in search of refreshment, local knowledge will point you in the direction of the Arthur’s Pass store – they offer incredibly generous scoops of ice cream.
LOCO Journeys can arrange accommodation for your stop in Arthur’s Pass and offer helpful information about what you can do in the area – just Contact Us to ask.
Opened in 1894, Moana Station is a one hour journey by train to Greymouth. It is a special place on the TranzAlpine route and an often overlooked opportunity to stop-off and enjoy the adjacent Lake Brunner.
Lake Brunner originally became a popular destination for picnic trains and is now increasingly frequented by people wanting to take a break from their busy lives, and be rewarded with a natural paradise enjoyable for fishing, walking and boating.
The Maori name for the lake is Kotuku Whakaoho, meaning the ‘sea of herons’. The present name commemorates Thomas Brunner who, in 1848, became the first European to see the lake during his epic 550 day exploration of the region with Kehu and other Maori guides.
There are plenty of special places to stay in the region and LOCO Journeys would be happy to curate a West Coast Experience set within the environs of Moana and Lake Brunner. We will book you on the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch and take care of all the necessary details for you to enjoy some time away.
Back to: LOCO Journeys Blog