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  • Writer's pictureRobert Lainhart

TranzAlpine Train, Greymouth, & Nelson

Today was a big travel day but not from point A to point B. It was more of A to B to C to A to D.

One thing I really wanted to do while in New Zealand was take the TranzAlpine train journey across the Alps. My mother and aunt had other priorities so I left them at the hotel in Christchurch and took a taxi to the Christchurch train station.

From the Christchurch station the train journied West and beganing climbing the massive mountain range that lay before us. The train continued gaining elevation before we reached Arthur's Pass which marked the halfway point and the high point of the journey. After a brief stop at the pass, we began our way down the western side of the island. One of the most memorable points of the decent was passing through the Otira Tunnel which journeyed underground for 5.3 miles. We were in total darkness for about 10 minutes before we litterally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

We arrived at the station in Greymouth at about 12:30 PM meaning the full joruney took about 5 hours. Greymouth lies on the South Island's west coast and had an interesting role in my trip. On this day I only spent about an hour in Greymouth, but in a few days time I would be scheduled to return with my National Geographic group. For today, I took a taxi 45 minutes south to the town of Hokitika which housed one of the only airports on this side of the island.

I left the Hokitika airport on a tiny 20 seat plane in route to Christchurch. I was excited for a scenic flight over the alps but somehow I chose the only seat on the entire plane that had no window. Fortionatly I was close enough to the front of the plane that I was able to watch the pilots captian the vessel all the way through to Christchurch. At the Christchurch airport I transfered to a different plane which flew me to Nelson.

In Nelson, one of our expedition leaders picked me up to the airport and took me to the hotel where the other guests were waiting. We attended an informational session and then went to dinner in downtown Nelson where we were able to meet our fellow traveling companions. After dinner we were shuttled back to the hotel where I immediaty fell asleep.

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