Saturday, November 3, 2007

Don't ever miss this ! Part 2

All 4 photos from source: ( Mark Smith)
Our Journey took off from Greymouth at 2.25 pm. We passed through the old mining town of Dobson, then crossed an ancient suspension bridge over the Grey River. Soon we arrived at Old Brunner Mine which was the site of New Zealand's worst mining disaster in 1896 which claimed 65 lives. The conditions inside our train was cosy and pleasant but outside was very misty. Still the scenery and views in winter was absolutely stunning. Chugging along smoothly, we passed by waterfalls, mountains, valleys and crossed over many low bridges which criss crossed over the river. We followed a deep valley across a shallow river and then came to Otira. This is the place where our train entered the Otira Tunnel at 8.6 km long( 5.3 miles ), making it one of the longest in NZ. It was completed in 1923. As soon as our train emerged from the dark recesses of the tunnel, we were at Arthur's Pass which was a major stop.
Passengers can get off the train for picture-taking, walk around or have a good stretch. We were in the heart of the Arthur's Pass National Park surrounded by snow everywhere. With so much snow around it wasn't surprising that people began to make snowballs and threw them at one another. We did so too! A very good relaxation activity.
On resumption, we passed more hills and plateaus and headed for the famous " Staircase",the highest viaduct at 73 metres high. This vantage point gave us all spectacular and panoramic views of the scenery before us. The train slowed considerably as it slowly wound itself over a series of short tunnels, deep gorges with steel girder bridges and then to the Waimakariri River Gorge of the Southern Alps. Descending, the train passed through Springfield and its foothills, Darfield a commuter town, animal farms and edged further away from the Alps.
Soon, we were on the flat Canterbury Plains open farmlands, passing small wooden suburban bungalows, freight yards, and the Addington Cement Works.
By then it was already early darkness of a cold winter evening as our Tranz Alpine train came to a halt at Christchurch station. Our location was about 3 km SW of the city centre.
We bade farewell to some of our fellow travellers as we went to retrieve our luggage.
Thus ended a journey never to be forgotten.


David said...

It been great reading all about your Sth Island adventures. Brings back some memories. It seems so long ago. You really did well to cover so much distance in the middle of a cold winter. I haven't been on the Tranz Alpine yet, its about one of the last remaining areas I have not been to, but I really want to go. When I was little our family used to drive from Dunedin all the way up the west coast to Nelson at the top,stopping at all the old mining towns and staying in camping grounds. It was a long way and it seemed to rain perpetually, but they were wonderful trips. One day we should hire a fleet of camper-vans and all drive up together!

uncle dick said...

Yes David,but make that one day come sooner...I really like the idea of a camper-van as firstly, I've never done it before. And secondly, I think NZ especially the South is one of the BEST places anywhere in the world for camping adventure in a safe environment.