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A 3 Minute Guide to the TranzAlpine Train

The TranzAlpine train, New Zealand's most spectacular rail journey is also globally renowned. Tracking from one side of the South Island to the other, the TranzAlpine takes you through some of the wildest and unspoilt scenery in the country.

TranzAlpine train, New Zealand

WHAT

One of the world's most famous train trips, the TranzAlpine is a sensational 4.5 hour railway crossing in the South Island of New Zealand. Traversing the Southern Alps you’ll travel through the dramatic alpine landscape, deep river gorges, native beech forest and the grassy plains of Canterbury.

You’ll see the small village of Arthur's Pass - a popular base for climbers and hikers - and descend (or ascend, depending on which way you're going) through the subtropical rainforests of the West Coast. Each train has comfortable reclining seats, a cafe car and open-air carriage allowing for unobstructed photography and views.

WHERE

Crossing from the East to the West coast of the South Island, The TranzAlpine train goes through Canterbury, Arthur's Pass National Park and the Central West Coast. Home to some of New Zealand's most diverse landscapes, this area of the South Island is known for its wild, untamed beauty.

WHEN

The TranzAlpine train runs year-round and is spectacular in all seasons but the best time to take the journey is late winter. In late winter there are unlikely to be heavy snows obstructing the tracks, but there is still a significant dusting on the Southern Alps - making the scenery that much better. In early winter there are often delays due to snow, while the summer months bring many more people - something to be avoided!

Spring and Autumn are also great times to travel due to decreased tourist numbers and more settled weather. But we still think the addition of snow on the mountains makes for a pretty special trip - something you rarely get in the shoulder seasons.

WHY

A cost effective way to kill three (or four or five) birds with one stone. Driving the same route you would see a fraction of what you would on the rails - with the train taking you places a car simply can't go. You’ll get a sense of the ‘real’ New Zealand, and quite simply - it's spectacular!