The TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth is a world-class journey through some of the most striking natural landscapes on the planet. And winter is a magical time to do it. From the comfort of the roomy carriage, passengers are treated to exceptional views of snow-dusted mountain ranges, forests, and lakes.
Whether you intend to stop and explore, or you’d rather enjoy the sights from the warmth of the train, this journey has something for everyone.
To give you an idea of the magic you can experience along the way, we’ve highlighted our top sights and adventures to be had along the way. So check out the TranzAlpine train fares, and start planning your adventure through a true winter wonderland.
TranzAlpine Train Day Trip
When the weather is nippy, it's second nature to curl up and grab a hot drink. And what better way to do that then while enjoying the scenery of the impeccable Southern Alps aboard the train. So, sit back, relax, and let us transport you through a winter wonderland, exploring the incredible Southern Alps all from the comfort of a panoramic seat.
Departing the TranzAlpine railway station in Addington, Christchurch at 8:15am, you can experience the full journey to Greymouth and back all in one day, arriving back in Christchurch around 7:00pm.
Ascending more than 900 metres through the National Park, this is the highest and most breathtaking pass across the Southern Alps. The train stops here at around 10:52 am for just 15 minutes before continuing the journey. So if you’re planning to stay on the train for the entire journey, this is your chance to wrap up, hop off and stretch your legs. But if you intend to stay until the train returns at 4:28 pm, make sure you bring your winter woollies. Many of the best things to do here are outdoorsy activities.
Winter walks aplenty
At 2km, the Devil’s Punchbowl walk takes only an hour return, so it’s perfect for walkers of all ages and abilities. Across bridges, through beech forests, and up 240 steps will take you to the mammoth falls the walk is named after. You’ll be stunned at the sheer force of the fresh mountain water powering from the 131m falls.
Working up a hunger, head to the Wobbly Kea Café & Bar to satisfy your grumbling stomach. With a delicious range of home-made cakes and local coffee, you’ll be snug, recharged, and ready to for your next nature walk before hopping back on the train later in the afternoon.
Moana and Lake Brunner
Another stop worth hopping off to explore is the quaint fishing town of Moana. With the gorgeous snowy mountains reflecting in the expansive Lake Brunner, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a spot of lunch and some sightseeing.
There are plenty of beautiful walks within metres of the train station, ranging from a 20-minute track right through to an hour-long loop. The Rakaitane Track takes walkers across a long suspension footbridge. Then through a forest coated with a spongy floor of native moss and ferns, protected by the canopy of slender kahikatea trees. This track takes around 30-minutes return at just 1.2 km, so it’s the perfect length for a winter stroll.
After you’ve finished walking around the lake, it might be time for a bite. We recommend the Kingfisher Restaurant and bar, located in the original historic hotel, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the train station.
With a spectacular view of the lake, delicious pizzas and burgers on the menu, and an array of local wines and beers on tap, it’s a great spot to have a meal and a drink while you wait for the mid-afternoon return of the train. They even offer accommodation if you want to stay the night. Plus, if you need to warm up after your walk, they have a fireplace which is almost always roaring and a divine wood-fired hot tub ready for you to soak in.
Overnight in Greymouth
If you're rejoining the train back to Christchurch, you'll have just enough time to head off and explore the river mouth and café's before rejoining the train around 2:00pm. If you've decided to stay overnight, you'll have a myriad of exciting activities to see and do while you're here. So, why not look into renting from one of the car hire companies, conveniently located at Greymouth railway station?
Just a 45-minute drive north of Greymouth takes you to Punakaiki on the edge of the Paparoa National Park. This is a great base to experience the sublime natural forces of the wild West Coast. See the uniquely stacked layers of Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and the dynamic blowholes surging jets of water high into the sky.
Back in Greymouth, the Monteith's pub awaits your arrival for dinner. Brewed to perfection, this popular local brewery offers tours of their facilities and an indulgent menu. So whether it's a rainy day, or you're interested in learning more about the brewing process, this is your chance to see the beer-making process up close and personal – learning the art of tap pouring without all the froth.
Toasty travels on the TranzAlpine train
Famed for being one of the South Island’s greatest attractions, the TranzAlpine train is a treat for the soul. And there is no better time to experience it than in winter. Ticking all the boxes for comfort and entertainment, this is the perfect trip if you intend to travel New Zealand this winter.
So pack your cosy clothes, and join us to see the snowy sights to make memories that will warm your heart long after you’ve hopped off the train.