The Coastal Pacific train with coast on one side, snowy mountains on the other
I had been on a scenic railway tour in the south island of New Zealand before, but I had assumed that the massive death toll and destruction from the Christchurch earth quake in 2011 would have ended the Picton-Christchurch trip. As Anthony Dennis reported, however, the Coastal Pacific journey is up and running again, better than ever.
The Coastal Pacific train journey travels between the delightful port of Picton and Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city. This journey is a scenic feast of New Zealand, with the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side of the train and the Pacific Ocean coast line on the other. The scenery along this rugged coastline is enjoyed via either the large panoramic windows in the normal carriages or an open air, breezy viewing carriage.
The Coastal Pacific train takes visitors through some of New Zealand’s finest horticultural and farmland areas, to see amazing wildlife such as dolphins, seals and penguins.
Whale watching in Kaikoura, on board the Tiki Touring boat
The town actively promotes itself a popular stop off for those passengers who choose to immerse themselves in the sheer drama and beauty of this place with its majestic alpine scenery, beautiful rugged coastline, Maori culture and amazing ocean wildlife. Visitors can and do break their journey to sail on the whale watching boats or to swim with the dolphins, literally.
vineyards in Blenheim
The service runs in both directions between Christchurch and Picton daily, stopping enroute for passengers at Rangiora, Waipara, Mina, Kaikoura, Seddon and Blenheim. The trip takes 5 hours 20 minutes, one way, with new café cars to sample the local food and wine.
New Zealand's South Island.
I have marked Picton, Blenheim, Kaikoura, Waipara, Rangiora and Christchurch
From May to September, KiwiRail’s Coastal Pacific train service between Christchurch and Picton will operate a reduced winter timetable i.e only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. So while winter scenery is more spectacular, summer is the most flexible time to travel.