I wrote about being on board the Interislander ferry and crossing New Zealand’s Cook Strait from Wellington on the North Island to Picton on the South Island.
There are cheaper or faster ways to travel between Wellington and Christchurch. But I love boats, and I love trains. So, an alternative is a trip with KiwiRail Scenic Journeys, combining boat and train. After 3.5 hours, the ferry across Cook Strait arrives in Picton at 1140am. I make my way out of the ferry terminal, and walk the short path to the train station nearby. My luggage on the ferry is automatically transferred onto the train, as I’ve paid for both legs of the trip in its entirety.
At 1pm, the Coastal Pacific train trundles out of Picton for the 5-plus hour journey to Christchurch, with key stops in Blenheim and Kaikoura. Ahead are smooth rolling hills; green meadows; salt flats (at Lake Greenmere); the rugged and snaking Pacific coastline around which the train tracks cling; and finally, the emergence of the towering Kaikoura mountains, “merely” the northern extension of the much taller mountain range to the south.
Early-winter skies are dark as our train arrives a little before 630pm at the southern terminus in Christchurch. People shuffle onto the platform, I dig out my contact information, and I hop into a taxi to the place I’m staying.
Ferry, train, first sighting of the Southern Alps: it’s another glorious day in New Zealand.
More travel on the South Island: