Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Winter Escape 2012: South Island, New Zealand - Part One

On the ferry ride to South Island

Our ferry ride from Wellington to Picton, South Island was on a brilliantly sunny day. We moved through the Cook Strait onto open ocean waters. It was smooth sailing. As we drew closer to Picton we passed through narrow passageways flanked by enormous mountains. Dolphins were sighted having fun with the waves. It is always a treat to watch dolphins.

Rugged Pacific Coastline from the train 

In Picton, we boarded the Coastal Train heading south to Christchurch. The train had large viewing windows to enable us to absorb the scenery either through the comfort of our seats in our carriage or in the dining car. The open carriage with no windows positioned next to the caboose gave us the optimum views.

View from the open carriage 

The first part of our journey took us through the hilly wine country of Marlborough. Then we found ourselves absorbing the scenery of the East Coast. On one side were magnificent views of mountain ranges while on the other side was the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline. We felt the full force of the wind and the ocean breezes as we busily snapped our cameras to capture these memories. We were informed that we went through 22 tunnels and over 175 bridges. After five hours we arrived in Christchurch for a night's rest before boarding the TranzAlpine train the next morning.

Scenery of the Southern Alps
The Tranzalpine train took us through the Southern Alps of New Zealand heading towards the West Coast; it meandered through Arthur's Pass, around and through some enormous mountain ranges as it barrelled its way through a few tunnels and over bridges looking onto rivers and lakes. We captured these scenes on camera from the open carriage or simply enjoyed the beauty of nature as is evident throughout New Zealand. By the early afternoon we arrived in Greymouth to settle down for the night.

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