TranzAlpine train day trip

Oct 22nd, 2018, 09:55 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 12
TranzAlpine train day trip

My wife and I will have two nights in only one full day. I'm interested in what folks might think about doing a day trip on the TranzAlpine train. If we were to do it, I'm thinking we would take it to Moana (next to last stop) where it arrives around noon. We'd then have about three hours for lunch before catching the return back to Christchurch. We like train travel, but this does burn a full day. (That said, we'll be there in early December, so there should be lots of daylight.) I'm also guessing that the enjoyability factor is somewhat weather dependent, so I'm not sure how practical it is to decide a day or two before if we want to do this.

Competing for our time in Christchurch would be a visit to Akaroa (both to explore and maybe take the penguin tour) and the Botanical Gardens. After Christchurch we head to Tekapo and Mount Cook...

magritten is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2018, 11:09 PM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 67
- see mountain views without the hassle of driving
- relaxing restful day
- early start
- same views in and out
- Moana is tiny, (it wouldn't be my pick of a destination)

Your other options both sound better to me.
Thelittlestkiwi is offline  
Oct 24th, 2018, 02:52 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,875
I've been expecting Melnq8 to respond to your question, but she must be busy with other matters. I can recall her, and others, mentioning that a lot of time is spent going through tunnels on the TranzAlpine train and that views were better appreciated by driving instead (which is the only way I've seen this route). It's interesting that the Man in Seat 61 (who I believe sometimes posts on the Europe forum) prefers the Northern Explorer train journey, finding it more "epic".
The weather will probably be lovely in December, but there is always a small chance of bad weather, so I would re-think that 3-hour stay in Moana.

If going to Akaroa, you might want to check the cruise ship schedule as the village is small and might feel a little overwhelmed during a visit of a cruise ship or two.

By the way, if you are still thinking of comng to Dunedin. There is a large little blue penguin attraction at Taiaroa Head's Pilot's Beach on the Otago Peninsula.
Dunedin also offers the option of the Taieri Gorge Railway, which is not as scenic as the TranzAlpine, but it also doesn't take all day. Dunedin Railways on some days also offers shorter train trips, of about 90 minutes return, The Seasider, which travels along the Dunedin coast.
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Last edited by Diamantina; Oct 24th, 2018 at 03:07 PM.
Diamantina is offline  
Oct 24th, 2018, 07:44 PM
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Thank you both for your thoughts on the train trip...we've been on the fence about taking it and--based on your comments--if we do, I don't think we'll disembark in Moana. (But we did like the timing of that!) All said, we may be sliding off the fence and not investing a full day in the trip.

Diamantina...thank you so much for the link to cruise ship schedule! Our full day in Christchurch/Akoroa would be Dec 4, which looks clear, or our half day would be the afternoon of Dec 3, which has a ship, but at least it's only one (and a smaller one at that). As to the penguins...they are soooo cute! I'm really not sure what we'll do on that front given our time constraints, but really hope we can figure out how to experience that.
magritten is offline  
Oct 27th, 2018, 04:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,482
Yep, I've just returned from a CO-NM road trip. I do indeed feel that the journey on the TranzAlpine is tunnel heavy, and lacks the scenery one gets driving over Arthur's Pass. Three hours in Moana wouldn't be my choice either.

I'd either rent a car for the day and drive myself, or head to Akaroa, especially if the weather is fine.
Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2018, 06:21 AM
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We were on the fence about this and there are now three votes for "meh," when it comes to the train. And an even stronger "meh" for my idea of getting off at Moana. (For the record, that was purely based on the schedule and our ability to have a lunch break.) We had always liked the Akaroa and the more we've explored this, it seems like we can really devote most of a day there, as opposed to half a day. We will have a car and we'll continue to look into that.

Thanks all for the feedback...including the cruise ship schedule, which was quite helpful.
magritten is offline  
Oct 29th, 2018, 02:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,482
I've done be Trans Alpine train - went to Greymouth and back in a day . I was at a conference and didn't have much time or access to a car . I did enjoy the trip . It was July as well.
northie is offline  
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