Coastal Pacific Train

A train. 6 hours and 350km.

Today we are making our way from Christchurch to Blenheim on the Coastal Pacific Train.

It’s still dark when we depart Christchurch. I will be able to watch the sun come up.

We take our seats in the front carriage next to the big glass windows. I expect we will see some pretty awesome views on this journey.

The rain is glistening on the windows as we pass through residential areas, the street lights twinkling as a burnt orange horizon mixes into a deep inky blue sky. The bare winter trees silhouette against the dawn. Morning has broken.

I head down to the open carriage to get some photos (I hate taking photos through glass.) Jeepers creepers, it’s fresh out here, but so beautiful. The golden hues spilling out across the land as we pass a river that reflects the colours back.

We pass through frosty farmland, blanketed in white. The air is crisp and cold. Actually freezing. I’m the only one mad enough to be out here. Even though the cold air is numbing my face and hands, the beauty that I am seeing keeps me out here for sometime.

As I make my way back to our carriage, I pass row after row of people engrossed with their phones, their ipads and reading books. It’s so sad. They are missing the beauty right in front of them.

I take a seat and appreciate the soft pink and blue hues of the sky. We then hear an announcement over the speakers. The viewing cart is now closed due to safety reasons. The floor is very icy and slippery. I agree, it was, but I am also disappointed that I wont be able to take glass free photos and feel the wind in my face, despite how cold it was.

I settle into my seat and look out the window. There is a dusting of snow on the distant mountains. We pass through the Waipara vineyards and the rolling green hills that look like a Colin McCahon painting. The colours soft and delicate.

The hills are becoming sun kissed, slowly defrosting from the cold night. The sun is just about to peak out from behind a hill. I can see the golden rays. We come around the corner, I expect to see the sun, I have my camera ready, but instead, we are greeted by a thick blanket of fog. Mist is twisting through the bare winter trees. It’s magical, but also a little eerie. I half expect to see Harry Potter dementors coming out from the woods.

After quite some time, we exit the fog. My eyes settle on a beautiful sage green river. The surrounding landscape is rich and warm in colour. Day is here. The sun is very bright now, it is here to stay. We pass braided rivers and snow dusted mountains.

And then we get our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. A brilliant ocean of glorious blue, stretching as far as the eye can see. Fortunately the viewing carriage is re opened. This time, I am not the only one.

There is 100Km of coastline. It is home to lots of wildlife. Apparently sometime passengers will spot dolphins or sperm whales. I see a lot of sea birds and even some seals out on the rocks, soaking up the sun.

On one side we have the mighty Pacific Ocean. On the other, the Kaikoura Ranges, dusted in snow. Snow always makes everything look so magical. What a glorious day for travelling.

We then pass though some salt flats. I am amazed at the range of colours; bright turquoise, grey and pink tones. As we approach Marlborough the vineyards become more prominent. We finally reach our destination. Blenheim. The train actually goes right through to Picton. A lot of passengers will get off here and take the ferry across to Wellington. We are also Wellington bound, but my mum gets bad sea sickness so we have decided to enjoy a night in Blenheim and take a short flight home the next day. I love that this is also an option.


There are 3 ‘Great Journeys’ Trains in New Zealand. The Northern Explorer running between Auckland and Wellington. The TranzAlpine that connects Christchurch to Greymouth and the Coastal Pacific traveling between Christchurch and Picton. This was my first time doing any of them and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is such a relaxing way to travel and I loved watching the changing landscape.

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