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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 30 July, 2023
Expert travel writer: Mark Chipperfield

This 5-hour (one-way) coast-to-coast train takes you through New Zealand’s ‘Great Divide’, the spine of mountains running down the islands’ centre.

You’ll wind along the Waimakariri River valley, cross the Canterbury Plains, pass through gorges and rainforests, ascend into Arthur’s Pass, and explore the lush plains of Inchbonnie.

The carriages have glass sides to maximise the views from the comfort of your seat, and there is also an outdoor viewing carriage that anyone can use.

If you can work it into your itinerary, it’s a relaxing way to see New Zealand’s spectacular interior.

Price from: £100
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: 5 hours

Getting there & doing it

Book tickets ahead of time on the government’s train services website.

You could in theory make a day trip of it – it’s 10 hours on the train, plus a one-hour layover in Greymouth before the return leg to Christchurch.

When to do it

The train operates daily, departing from Christchurch early morning, and Greymouth after lunch.

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

New Zealand’s South Island

South Islands, New Zealand

New Zealand’s South Island

A primordial playground with truly spectacular scenery on the grandest scale, outdoor adventure activities galore, colourful and compelling Maori culture and terribly nice Kiwis.

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