For many travellers TranzAlpine train food is an important part of their day, particularly if you are enjoying a day return TranzAlpine train journey from Christchurch. Here are the details you need to know.
The time has just past 1pm and your TranzAlpine train glides briefly alongside the wide, swiftly flowing Grey River before turning south-west, passing the historic Greymouth signal box built in 1904 as it crosses Mawhera Quay, before gliding into Greymouth station. With the road crossing bells setting a rhythmic soundtrack, your train comes to a halt finally breaking the tempo of east to west movement across the breadth of New Zealand’s South Island that has been omnipresent since your early morning departure from Christchurch.
You have arrived on the fabled West Coast by train, and despite the TranzAlpine now being stationary, all around you is a hive of activity. Inside the carriage people scramble for bags and belongings, trying not to misplace small children as they exit down the two large carriage steps onto the low platform. You witness friends and relatives anxiously waiting to see loved ones. Tourists tentatively take their next steps toward their onward journey, while at the same time juggling their phone to take a photo to capture this heady moment. As you would expect for any daily occasion, the station is a hive of activity and perhaps the only thing missing is a brass band celebrating your safe passage through the Southern Alps.
Back on terra firma, there is no point in pretending, your time in Greymouth is brief and you need to move quickly to maximise your given hour before the TranzAlpine train starts its return journey to Christchurch. You’ve decided to eschew the terrific choice of TranzAlpine train food including hot and cold meals from the onboard train cafe, and you’ve heeded the guards useful advice that any food in the local eateries should be ordered with the condition given you are a ‘TranzAlpine train passenger,’ and so politely ask them to serve you promptly.
If you have chosen to enjoy lunch in Greymouth there are a few options available, but in the main you are going to be looking for something that delivers food fast. Here are the places you should consider which are all within walking distance.
Greymouth Speight’s Ale House
If it’s pub grub you are seeking, accompanied by a fair selection of New Zealand beers, then you can’t go wrong with Speights. Situated in an historic Grade 1 listed building, Speights is literally a stone’s throw from the station. The Speights building built in 1909 was locally known in Greymouth as the ‘Brick House’ and housed numerous local government offices. Now Speights is famous for superb local southern fare. You can choose between light bites, burgers, and salads along with Pale Ale’s, Porters, Lagers Pilsner and other special releases. Check the opening hours as it is closed for lunch some weekdays – and be sure to advise at the time of ordering you are a TranzAlpine passenger.
Robert Harris Greymouth Coffee Shop
Locally owned Robert Harris in Greymouth is a popular lunch spot offering a warm welcome, great coffee and an absolutely incredible array of cabinet food. If it was the coffee that drew you here, the food will keep you here. The store offers a relaxed space, modern rustic aesthetic that draws inspiration from the region – a perfect spot to relax before your return journey commences. Upon your exit from the station building, turn left and take a short walk along MacKay Street and not more than 200 metres on your right on the corner of Werita Street you will see the splendid Robert Harris Cafe.
If the Tranzalpine train food has not really appealed, the highly rated Sevenpenny is a great spot for lunch, with great coffee, a decent menu range including alcoholic beverages and it is only a short walk from the station. A modern, vibrant cafe there is also a selection of cabinet food if you are wanting something served quickly. One five star review writes ” Amazing find in Greymouth. Great atmosphere, staff were excellent and food was delicious. You have to try this restaurant!!!” If the sun is shining you can choose to sit outside and enjoy the company of Greymouths finest. It will take you less than five minutes to walk the 350 metres from Greymouth train station to Sevenpenny,
Greymouth Countdown Supermarket
Just like many other locations along New Zealand’s West Coast, Greymouth experiences its fair share of rain – almost 3 metres annually. But if your luck is in and the day is fine, take a chance on grabbing a takeaway lunch from the Greymouth Countdown supermarket. One of New Zealand’s foremost supermarket chains, Countdown will offer everything you can expect for a bought supermarket lunch. Fresh fruit, a delicatessen, bakery and maybe even sushi. You can’t miss the large Countdown building as it shares a lengthy boundary with the railway, directly opposite the station. The trick is more knowing how to get there. Walk the length of the train back toward the Grey River (the direction from which the train entered the Greymouth station) and as you get to Mawhera Quay, cross the railway tracks to the right and enter the Countdown/Warehouse car park entrance, walking back down through the car park on the other side of the fence.
The classic lunchtime sandwich has morphed into a global fast food chain whose Greymouth venue stands impressively directly opposite Greymouth station. For wraps, salads, cookies, and freshly baked bread sandwiches of multiple varieties, this is a good option to deliver your lunch on time. You will likely be joined by other TranzAlpine train passengers as you queue to order your ‘sub’. Footlong or 6 inch is the opening gambit and we’d recommend the foot long – leaving half to enjoy on the return journey to Christchurch. At five hours, you are likely to get peckish again. You may find some comfort in that Subway also seems to be the lunch choice of members of the train crew whose timetable matches your own.
Okay then, if time is really short and you can’t hold back from sniffing out a delicious Big Mac, you are in luck. Turn left out of the station, walk along MacKay Street for about 300 metres until you come to the first main intersection. Left into Tainui Street, and there ahead of you at the end of the road you will see the familiar golden arches. There’s one thing that remains constant with McDonald’s; you know what you’re going to get and you know that it won’t take long, even in the New Zealand West Coast town of Greymouth.
If the weather is favourable and you’ve enjoyed something to eat, get a quick feel for Greymouth and take a walk across from the station and climb the Grey River flood defense wall that was built in 1990. Protecting the town from frequent and devastating floods, the concrete wall acts as a brilliant elevated river walkway with points of interest along the way including views down river to where the Mawheranui meets the Tasman Sea. Imagine this setting once being a hive of dockyard activity with sailing and steam ships unloading goods onto Mawhera Quay and extensive Greymouth railway yards behind.
You might just have a moment to grab a photo at the popular GREYMOUTH sign painted across the floor of the wall before heading back across the road to find your allocated coach for your imminent train journey back to Christchurch.
TranzAlpine Train Food – Onboard Options
If you find your time in Greymouth is too short to comfortably enjoy lunch, do be aware that the TranzAlpine train cafe offers an amazing range of hot and cold food – so you won’t go hungry. There’s a great array of TranzAlpine train food and drinks from snacks to hot main meals and everything in between.
Catch up with everything you need to know about your TranzAlpine train journey and read our comprehensive TranzAlpine guide.